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The Bad Catholic's Guide to the Catechism

A Faithful, Fun-Loving Look at Catholic Dogmas, Doctrines, and Schmoctrines

Author(s): John Zmirak

ISBN13: 9780824526801

ISBN10: 0824526805

Publisher: Crossroad Publishing Company (Nov 2012)

Extent: 255 pages

Binding: Paperback

Size: 2 x 15 x 22.3 cm

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  • Catholics today face a barrage of puzzling questions about their faith and their Church. This bracingly funny, achingly honest look at what the Church really teaches—and what it doesn’t—takes on the toughest objections moderns raise to Catholic faith.


    Presented in the guise of the old-fashioned Catechism that generations of Catholic school kids in plaid skirts or clip-on ties had to memorize, this candid handbook provides a witty take on the teachings of the Catholic faith. Objections from relativist, New Atheist, dissenting Catholic, and other points of view are featured, with intellectually sound questions and entertaining answers.


    Penned by a Yale-educated author who worked both in the mainstream, secular media as well as for Catholic outlets, Zmiraks book reveals the whole range of contemporary criticisms aimed at the Church—and how to answer them in kind. Using both a rapier wit and the strong left hook of a blue-collar kid from Queens, this guide defends its faith with good humor and sincere respect at every turn while illustrating the difficulties 

  • John Zmirak


    John Zmirak is an editor, a journalist, a college professor, and a political commentator. He is the author of The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Seven Deadly SinsThe Bad Catholic's Guide to the Catechism, and the coauthor of The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Good LivingThe Bad Catholic’s Guide to Wine, Whiskey, and Song; and The Grand Inquisitor.

    Zmirak has contributed to Investor’s Business Daily and the National Catholic Register. He lives in New York City.

  • Be the first to review this product

    Those friends of the decanter who are interested in such things may like to know that ol’ Robbo just finished John Zmirak’s latest book, The Bad Catholic’s Guide To The Catechism.  My reaction?  Well, I plan to go right back to the beginning and start all over again, if that gives you any indication.   Of all the Bad Catholic books Zmirak’s put out to date, I really think this is the best one.  It’s set up as a  Socratic dialogue between  a worldly sophisticate and the author, in which the latter explains (patiently, for the most part) how this whole big thing called Catholicism actually works.   The book is tight and snappy (although there are some occasional rants aside for those who like ‘em) and laugh-out-loud funny in many places (although it is deadly serious in others, especially when confronting the nastier episodes of Church history).  So far as I can tell in my own ignorance, it’s also bang-on orthodox in its teachings.  Above all, it fills me with that sense of awe, wonder, humility and idiocy that makes me want to shout with joy at God’s greatness and hide under a rock lest He spot me, all at the same time.  (Your mileage may vary, of course.)


    I like to think of Zmirak as the Jonah Goldberg of Catholic Apologetics.   And I mean that as a compliment.  Like the G-man defending Hayek or Adam Smith, Zmirak delves into the Magisterium with a mix of honesty, luminosity and humor in language that is never stuffy or remote, but instead attuned to the current culchah.  (Okay, with its assortment of  Tolkien and Star Wars references, it might be argued that he’s dialed into the geekier corner of said culchah, but that’s no bad thing.)   Also like Jonah, he tends to talk about his dogs a lot.   The comparison breaks down insofar as I don’t believe Zmirak’s couch talks to him, but if you imagine his interlocutor here as a piece of furniture (I’m thinking something Danish Modern) instead of some Upper West Side hipster doofus, then you’re nearly there.


    A couple of specific grace notes in this book made me smile in particular.  One was a mention of putting aside some trouble of the world and listening to a Haydn Mass.  I getthat.  In fact, I was doing just that thing just last evening.  (I also listened to settings by Taverner and Byrd, but it’s not the same.)   The other was his flagging of a particularly obnoxious piece of political correctness at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT, where some stoodent group from the gender politicks fever swamp sent a memo round demanding that everybody replace he/she/him/her in their writing (and speech?) with ze (subjective) and hir (objective and possessive).  Ah, me.  I see that things haven’t especially changed since I was there 25 years ago.


    In fact, what’s changed is that this sort of nonsense is no longer confined to asylums like dear old Wes, but instead permeates the mainstream more and more.  Which is all the more reason to work of further anchoring oneself in knowledge and faith.  Reading this book certainly helps with that.


     - Wordpress


    John Zmirak is easily one of the funniest writers alive...He attacks the subject matter with the best of his doctrinally sound depth of knowledge and relays it with maxium humor.


     - Thomas McArdle, former communications director, Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights


    A ploymath who is at the same time gloriously funny and massively serious...thoroughly orthodox and sane. The reader will be instructed, blessed, and exhilarated.


     - Thomas Howard, author, Evangelical Is Not Enough


The Bad Catholic's Guide to the Catechism

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