This book is not what I expected. Cardinal Wuerl, in his introduction to the book, says, “It is directed primarily at adults today who would enjoy a popular narrative of the life and teachings of the early Fathers of the Church.” I expected, as he also wrote, that a church father would be highlighted and then Talbot would help us understand why his message is for today.
So I expected vignettes of early Church Fathers and their message. What the book is actually about is how Talbot came to be Catholic and how his reading of the early church Fathers verified what the Catholic Church teaches and practices. One could say the book is about how the writers of the first millennium shaped Talbot's life and work.
Even though I am Protestant, I am still glad I read the book. I have read some about the Catholic faith and this book added to my understanding.
Talbot writes about how he founded their community at Little Portion and how it is patterned after the experiences of early Christians. He gives a little of his personal history and then explains the importance of the term “Father.” He highlights the use of tradition in the Catholic Church. He also writes about the monastic and cenobitic lifestyles, the Jesus Prayer, charity, and Mary. He also takes readers through the liturgy and shows the basis of practices from the Fathers. He has a good section on transubstantiation.
He promotes the Catholic view that the authority of the Bible is rooted in “the earthly authority [that] preceded, produced, confirmed, conserved and canonized the books of the Bible.” He also advocates that, “The ordinary means of salvation are the Church itself and the sacraments that Jesus has entrusted to the Church.”
Even though I am not Catholic, I appreciated the book. It really helped me understand why the Catholics do what they do. I also learned a bit more about Talbot, who is now traveling and speaking. Their community had a major fire in 2008 and he is working to fund rebuilding that the insurance did not cover. He has created a DVD teaching series called “Nothing Is Impossible With God” and you can watch a promo here.
John Michael Talbot was a popular Christian music artist, having won Dove Awards and Grammy nominations. He founded “The Brothers and Sisters of Charity” in 1980. It is at the Little Portion Hermitage in Barryville, Arkansas. You can learn more about the community at www.LittlePortion.org. You can find out more about Talbot at http://johnmichaeltalbot.com/.
Image, 208 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.