Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Art of Catechesis: What You Need to Be, Know and Do

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Art of Catechesis: What You Need to Be, Know and Do

Article excerpt

The Art of Catechesis: What You Need to Be, Know and Do. By Maureen Gallagher. Foreword by Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1998. vi + 230 pp. $14.95 (paper).

A good amount of practical wisdom can be found in Maureen Gallagher's introduction to the work of catechesis. It contains competent, serviceable counsel from an experienced practitioner in the. field. It will perhaps be most useful for prospective or new catechists -who need a brief overview of what is involved on the methodological and the experiential side of this ministry.

However, the book suffers from some difficulties. The first appears in the impossibly unrealistic subtitle ''I what you need to be, know and do." A book three times its size could not deliver on such a promise, and not surprisingly its sketch of the skills and content necessary for this ministry border on the cartoonish (without denying that cartoons can be helpful!). Is it really helpful to approach the psalms of lament for the first time looking for signs that the psalmist was "having a bad day" (p. 43)? Or to survey twenty centuries of-Church history in nine pages (pp. 93-101)?

But the other difficulty, in my judgment, is its theological slant toward an experientialist view of catechesis, whose primary task for catechesis is to shape natural religious imagination and feelings, to which Church doctrine lends clarif@4ng help. We need not debate that doctrine reflects experience, or question the need for its existential appropriation, or deny the cognitivist danger of equating catechesis with the mere delivery of doctrine. But is not doctrine also a mediator and shaper of religious consciousness, a frame of mind given for us to apprentice ourselves to and not too quickly reinterpret, i. …

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