Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything

Yes, it’s meant to be provocative. In fact, during his recent visit to Fordham, James Martin, S.J., one-upped himself when he recalled a favorite prospective title for his upcoming book: “Jesus: That’s Funny.” He chose a different title for the book, but the moral of the story, that is, his passion for uniting joy and religion, still illuminated his visit.
“We’ve lost the element of joy in Catholicism,” he told us, noting that people often sit in church stone-faced. At first the message sounds overly obvious; yet, it could be radical for Catholics of our generation. What if we dared to combine humor and religion? What if we were surrounded by smiling statues instead of solemn ones?
Father Martin at Fordham
It feels strange and heretical just writing it. However, it might just be the key to a brighter future for Catholics, a vision to which Catholics of our generation are especially privy. Read on for more about Father Martin's visit, info on his new book, and videos of him.

Of course, Father Martin primarily came to discuss/promote his book, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything. The Jesuit Guide obliquely follows his transformation from businessman to Jesuit, covering everything from ‘Who was Ignatius?’ to the debacle of chastity. As I later learned from parts of the book, the process of becoming a Jesuit raised serious questions for Martin about religious life, love, and even (you betcha) sex. His text goes covers all of it, and it does so in the language of the laity. (Check out more of his humor in the videos below.)

So why the (Almost)? Other than to spark curiosity, I’m not entirely sure. The book talks about how to be religious as a whole person and how to incorporate spirituality into decision-making, rather than just being a Catholic at mass or in the confessional. Unsurprisingly, this holism encapsulates the James Martin in-person experience. He may be comfortable with the fact that he is a Jesuit, but he does not let it stop him from being a jokester.Check out more from Father James Martin at Fordham's blog.

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