Thursday 19 April 2018

What the Saints Never Said Pious Misquotes and Subtle Heresies - Trent Horn

What the Saints Never Said: 
Pious Misquotes and Subtle Heresies
Trent Horn
Catholic Answers Press
ISBN 9781683570691

eISBN 9781683570714

In the last year I have read 12 books by Trent Horn, I have appreciated all of them, and I loved 'Why We're Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love' and this book is just as good and am important read. The introduction to this book alone will cause you to question your own memory, and quotes that are considered famous. Horn starts with this:
"The villain clad in black raises his fist at the hero and says, "Luke, I am your father!" The dashing captain unfolds his communicator and gives the order, "Beam me up, Scotty." A mysterious jungle man sets down the woman he's rescued and she teaches him to say, "Me Tarzan, you Jane." What do these three things have in common? 
You might say they're lines from famous movies: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek, and Tarzan the Ape Man respectively. But then you remembered this is a book about fake quotations and you changed your answer: they're misquotations from famous movies. 
In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker accuses Darth Vader of killing his father. Vader responds, "No, I am your father"-not "Luke, I am your father." The crew of the Starship Enterprise often asked Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott to beam them up via the transporter, but no one in the Star Trek films or television shows ever said, "Beam me up, Scotty."2 Finally, in the 1932 classic Tarzan the Ape Man, Tarzan only says "Tarzan. Jane. Tarzan. Jane," not "Me Tarzan, you Jane.""
And then addressing the question of why it matter he states:
"Before I continue, I need to address readers who might be rolling their eyes or muttering the word "nitpicker." Does it really matter if people get one word wrong in a line from a Star Wars film? Who cares if the cute story about George Washington and the cherry tree never happened? Why can't you just leave the saints alone and write about something important? But accurately recording the wisdom of saints and other well-known Catholics is important because truth is important."
He then goes on to say:
"But the most important reason we should challenge false quotes from saints is because in some cases they contradict the Faith these saints embraced. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the saints are charitably yelling from heaven, "No! I actually said the opposite of that!" The major fake quotes in this book are not merely paraphrases of saintly wisdom or harmless pieces of advice that have been falsely attributed to the saints, although I do cover those kinds of quotes, too. Instead, each chapter in this book addresses a theme embodied in a well-known quote that is contrary to our Faith."
And after reading this book I am even more convinced about the power of words, and yes getting a quote correct really does matter.  The chapters in this volume are:

1. "Preach the gospel always; if necessary, use words."
2. "People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered . . . Love them anyway."
3. "You don't need to believe in God to be a good person."
4. "Pray as though everything depended on God, act as if everything depended on you."
5. "God helps those who help themselves."
6. "The truth is like a lion. You don't have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself."
7. "I believe because it is absurd."
8. "Rome has spoken, the case is closed."
9. "The road to hell is paved with the bones of priests."
10. "God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them."
What the Saints DID Say

Each chapter does not deal with just a single quote, but quotes along themes. And the last chapter is one of the most powerful and important for us to read today. Trent Horn tackles some pretty controversial topics in that last chapter and in the whole book. The reason he does so is because truth matters. Horn tackles over 40 quotes in this book, some are close to the original source, some are well meaning and along the lines of the thought of the source. Some are so warped the original meaning is lost or manipulated. A few are misattributed, and some are just fabrications. 

Back when I worked for a non-denomination campus ministry, I kept a database of quotes. It was searchable by topic, author, and key words. I wonder if I were to be as diligent as Trent how many would need to be dropped from the list. Different staff members would send me quotes when they were read, from book, the web, or that they heard in talks and lectures. We used them for promotional material and in creating our own talks for retreats or conferences.  It never really occurred to be to track down and verify sources, especially when taking a quote of a quote from a secondary or tertiary source.  I know that going forward I will be far more diligent in what quotes I uses, and am thankful to Trent Horn for opening my eyes. This book was an excellent read!   

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Trent Horn:

20 Answers Series:
20 Answers Abortion - Trent Horn
20 Answers Death & Judgement - Trent Horn
20 Answers Faith & Science - Trent Horn
20 Answers God - Trent Horn
20 Answers Jehovah's Witnesses - Trent Horn
20 Answers Mormonism - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Bible - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Eucharist - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Real Jesus - Trent Horn
20 Answers The Church - Trent Horn

Other Books:
Hard Sayings: A Catholic Approach to Answering Bible Difficulties
Answering Atheism - How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity
The Mystery of God Study Guide

What the Saints Never Said
Why We're Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love

Books Co-Authored by Trent Horn:
Persuasive Pro Life: How to Talk About Our Culture's Toughest Issue (with Fr Frank Pavone)
From Creation to Catholicism: The Story of Salvation History (with Patrick Coffin)

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