A Fine Book, With One Small Protest: A Review of ‘Tweeting with God’

A Fine Book, With One Small Protest: A Review of ‘Tweeting with God’ July 15, 2015
Fr-Remery
Tweeting with God author Fr. Michel Remery

by Kate Yeago

Tweeting with God is an introduction to Catholicism, a sort of “200 questions you had about the Catholic Church but were afraid to ask”. It’s extremely readable and engaging, clearly aimed at a younger audience. The book uses a Twitter-themed format: each question is dealt with in two pages and summed up at the end with a max-140-character “tweet”. There are plenty of supplemental infographics and charts for each question, and helpful appendices at the end of the book. The formatting could be distracting for some, but on the whole, it makes a cute gimmick for the present day.

The book is very well organized, divided into four main sections: “Tweets about God: the Beginning & the End”, “Tweets about the Church: Origin & Future”, “Tweets about You & God: Prayer & Sacraments”, and “Tweets about Christian Life: Faith & Ethics”. One of the real strengths of this book is that it’s thoroughly cross-referenced, and includes plenty of references to the Catechism, the Compendium, and the Youth Catechism. There is also a great free Tweeting with God app that integrates into the book by letting you scan the image that heads each question, and which contains excerpts from the book, and lots of additional information and prayers. This could be a wonderful tool for using the book in Bible studies or other group faith formation settings.

Tweeting with God_coverBecause of the brevity of the questions, the book does tend to simplify many of the major doctrinal claims of the church, although this is remedied slightly by the references to additional reading.

As a convert to Catholicism, I think the way in which this book simplifies Protestantism is slightly problematic; Lutheranism, Calvinism, and Anglicanism are all briefly mentioned individually, but the main discussion of Protestantism makes no distinctions between denominations. While most of the claims about “Protestants” might be true for some non-denominational Christians, most devout Lutherans or Anglicans would be offended by many of the assumptions put forward. Most notable are the generalizations about beliefs concerning Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, which vary wildly across denominations (growing up Lutheran, I always believed in the True Presence). Catholics do themselves a disservice when they fail to educate themselves on the actual beliefs of other Christians. If one does not engage with the actual beliefs of others, how can apologetics exist? You have to know your opponent’s argument to be able to respond to it. The book does a splendid job showing the non-opposition of science and religion, and uses up-to-date and accurate scientific research to support its arguments; it seems rather a shame that this couldn’t be done for the beliefs of other Christian denominations, too.

However, this is primarily a book about Catholicism, and the vast majority of the book is very, very good. Its treatment of the central mysteries of the Church (Christ’s Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection) is sound and orthodox, and it puts to rest a great many misconceptions about the devotional and eschatological teachings of the Church (Mary and the saints, hell and the Second Coming, etc.). The questions dealing with prayer are especially helpful, and the last two appendices provide great starting plans for those who are learning how to pray.

The section on ethics gives compassionate but clear explications of why the Church teaches what it does, especially helpful in these days when moral matters can seem all too murky.

Tweeting with God is filled with beautiful quotations from great Christian writers, saints, and popes, lots of eye-catching graphics, and fascinating stories and factoids. It’s extremely accessible, making ancient church doctrines as interesting as the lives of modern saints, and as relatable as discerning your own vocation.

I’d definitely recommend this book as a wonderful resource to help discover what the Catholic Church teaches and to find references for more in-depth answers from the official documents of the Church. It’s an engaging introduction for young people looking to clarify misconceptions formed either through limited exposure to Catholicism or through poor catechesis. However, you might want to ask your Protestant roommate what he actually believes before taking your newly-inspired zeal for your faith out for an apologetics match.

Kate Yeago attended the Catholic University of America, and is a professional organist and church musician in the Washington, DC area. She was raised Lutheran, but was received into the Catholic Church three years ago after a brief but tantalizing dalliance with gnosticism. Her interests include rhetoric, Dominican spirituality, composing music, and mangling stereotypes about young people.

Read an excerpt — and more conversation on the book — at the Patheos Book Club here!


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