There can be little doubt in this reviewer’s mind that this work by James McEvoy is tough going. There were times when I found it difficult to grasp, though I suspect that says more about me than about the theologian who wrote it.
I read this book largely because the author will be giving a public lecture that the Parish which I serve hosts each year. It is a work that should be read, however, if for no other reason that it attempts to place the Church and World back into dialogue in an age of secularism. It is a necessary conversation – a dialogue – that needs to take place, particularly on the part of the Church if the Church is to be seen as having any place in the modern world and the public sphere.
The first part of the work looks at the historical and philosophical development that have occurred in both the Church and the World, and which has lead to the dramatic moment that now confronts the Church in its relationship to the World. Far from seeing all as lost, McEvoy maintains that there is an opportunity for the Church to continue to play a role in the world, not just for believers but for the whole world, if it is prepared to accept that modernity and secularism are not enemies of encounter but rather an opportunity for dialogue.
The second part of McEvoy’s work studies in broader detail the nature of dialogue from a range of perspectives, not least that of the Second Vatican Council, and seeks to show exactly how the Church might dialogue with the world…if it’s prepared to ‘leave Christendom for good’.
This book, as I have already indicated, requires persistence and occasional backtracking in order to fully appreciate what McEvoy is attempting to spell out as the future of Church-World dialogue. It is a necessary task, however, lest the Church become an historical anachronism.
Well worth the effort; very needed in today’s Church and World.