Book reviews

Dr. Glenn Siniscalchi’s Retrieving Apologetics (Pickwick, 2016)

Note: Amazon recently deleted the following review of Dr. Siniscalchi’s excellent book; I am reposting it here to publicize his work.  Since Amazon collaborates with cancel culture zealots and bans books with which it disagrees, I recommend not buying this book on Amazon.  (Why give your hard-earned dollars to a company that censors books?)  Instead, buy this book directly from the publisher:

Cogent, inspiring, lucid, mellifluous, scholarly: these are adjectives which describe my reading of Dr. Glenn Siniscalchi’s effort to restore apologetics to its proper place in Catholic life.

Siniscalchi’s book is wonderfully succinct, the 274 easy-to-read pages covering major aspects of Thomistic thought on belief in God, the significant contribution which Christianity brought to a pagan world (that every human life is worthy of respect), the importance of using one’s intellect to affirm faith, and the rationality of belief in a benevolent God Who wishes not only to communicate with His creatures, but also to offer them eternal life.

          Thoroughly footnoted with a twelve-page bibliography to encourage further reading, Siniscalchi’s book is scholarly yet designed for popular reading, as the divisions into five parts and fifteen chapters suggest.  Thus, the book is a one-stop course in a variety of disciplines.  The cultural significance of Catholic Christianity—specifically of the crucial role that Catholic institutions such as charities, hospitals, and universities have played over the past two millennia—is simply inspiring and makes one proud to be part of a universal faith based, not on terror or pessimism, but love and hope.

          Catholic Christians of any rite (Byzantine, Melkite, Maronite, Roman, etc.) have always appreciated the inherent beauty of the faith.  What impresses the reader on finishing Siniscalchi’s book is how logical the Catholic faith is.  Siniscalchi destroys atheist claims skillfully and with grace; after all, as he mentions several times, apologetics involves not merely pointing out another’s errors, but doing so in an appropriate and Christ-like manner.

Siniscalchi is a master of identifying logical fallacies in atheist or heterodox opinions, and he addresses those errors in thinking without engaging in ad hominem attacks.  The reader can easily understand the deep philosophical ideas being presented because Siniscalchi’s style is, as affirmed above, cogent and lucid, flowing smoothly from one idea to the next (the meaning of the adjective “mellifluous”).

It is no wonder, then, that virtually every page of my copy has been marked with an annotation of something important to remember, something worthy of future discussion, or something simply interesting to investigate in the future.

          Two areas in the book’s production need to be addressed.  The second edition should correct some annoying typographic errors.  Also, although the content of the fifteen chapters is evident from their titles, an index should be created to assist the reader in locating specific terms quickly.

These minor matters aside, I highly recommend Siniscalchi’s work for all, especially high school and college students.  In fact, I can see how this book can be the basis for a series of broadcasts on EWTN, videos on YouTube, or a masterly online course (one chapter each week in a fifteen-week course).  Siniscalchi should pursue these opportunities to promote his excellent work.

Don’t have time to read St. Thomas Aquinas’ massive works?  Can’t get to the entire body of Vatican II documents?  Don’t have the energy or the eyesight to plow through the Catholic Encyclopedia?  Read Siniscalchi’s book instead.  A subtitle for the book could be “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Faith but Were Afraid to Ask.”

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