Desire & Deception
Publisher: Tumblar House
Publication Date: October 1, 2009
How Catholics Stopped Believing
The Catholic Church is THE great fact of our entire civilization. Art, architecture, music, literature, theatre, law - even cuisine and sports - at their best, all bear her mark. However much she and her teachings may be despised by media and government, however many of her children may abandon her, this is a reality that cannot be shaken. For over two millennia, it has been so.
Yet at the same time, the Church has perhaps never faced so great a combination of challenges as she does today. Most secular governments oppose her to greater or lesser degrees; the Mass, her most solemn rite, has in many places been turned into a collection of strange ceremonies where irreverence views with sheer banality to conceal the awe-filled reality of what is actually happening - the descent of Jesus Christ Himself into the bread and wine on the altar.
There remains an enormous question which few are anxious to tackle: why bother with the Church at all? Why is she here? In Desire and Deception, Charles A. Coulombe makes the case that the role Christ first envisaged for her - that of the sole means of Salvation for mankind - has been completely obscured in the minds of the vast majority of Catholics today. He gives the history of how this came about, explains that this obscurity is at the root of the Church's current internal dilemmas, and shows that Catholics must regain their sense of mission if they are to fulfill Christ's mandate.
[Modernists] have succeeded in blotting out former solemn pronouncements from the popular mind with the newer ones, proclaiming as development of doctrine what was actually repudiation. Unfortunately, at every stage of this process, there have been folk who, knowing what the Church actually teaches, have resisted.
It is a hallmark of the modern mind that it dismisses with labels anything it cannot overcome intellectually.
Charles A. Coulombe is one of North America’s most respected and sought-after commentators on culture, religion, history, and politics. A specialist in the history and government of the Catholic Church, Coulombe’s influence and expertise extend far beyond matters religious. He has written on topics ranging from the history of rum to haunted houses to a history of the United States.
Mr. Coulombe is a social and political commentator of note. In 2005 he provided narration and commentary for ABC News during the funeral of Pope John Paul II and the subsequent election and installation of Pope Benedict XVI. A former journalist, Mr. Coulombe served as a film reviewer and Contributing Editor of the National Catholic Register, during which time he received the Christian Law Institute's Christ King Journalism Award. Coulombe's work has appeared in over than 20 journals, including regular columns in Fidelity (Australia), PRAG (London), Monarchy Canada, and Creole Magazine (Louisiana). He has also been a frequent contributor to such publications as Success, Catholic Twin Circle, Gnosis, FATE, and the New Oxford Review.
As an informed and passionate speaker on a wide variety of religious, social, political, historical, and literary topics, Mr. Coulombe has appeared on lecture circuits throughout the North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. In 1992 he lectured at Oxford University and the following year embarked on a lecture tour of Ireland and Great Britain, returning to Oxford and Cambridge in 1995. Coulombe has also delivered lectures at the University of Southern California on the history of Rock & Roll and at Cleveland's John Carroll University on the history of medieval monarchy. In February 2011, he was invited to take part in a debate on the abolition of the monarchy before the prestigious Oxford Union.
I am so glad I read this book. In "Desire & Deception" Mr. Coulombe tackles a subject that has the potential to be dry and theoretical, but at the same time controversial and polarizing. His premise is that the reason the Faith is in such decline (understatement alert) is that the dogma of Extra Ecclesia Nulla Sallus (no salvation outside the Church) got shoved down the memory hole.
He lays out the philosophical history leading to that and said philosophical history is what electrified me. This is not, however, a nerdy esoteric book. It is a knowledgeable, engaging everyman discussion of two irreconcilable currents of thought in the Church, what each current leads to and the consequences thereof. Mr. Coulombe's writing style is so entertainingly educated, veering perfectly between the twin pitfalls of oversimplification and insider baseball. It has caused me to think critically about ideas that I took as established facts. This book is important because its subject is foundational. Get the foundation wrong and everything built on that foundation will be out of kilter. This is a terrific read.
I can't recommend this book enough, the whole reason for the Catholic Church which Jesus established is the salvation of souls!, today the emphasis is on every other thing instead of why Jesus (GOD) incarnated on earth to bring salvation. Even the name Jesus means Savior. This shows the philosophy and history why modern Popes, Bishops ,Priests and Laity have no idea how to guide the Ship of Peter. Start preaching this Dogma and watch all HELL break out literally. A great book!!!!!
This was the first book I read from Mr. Coulombe and I was not sure what to expect. The title and cover are both a bit odd and I honestly was worried this would be a superficial analysis of where things went wrong. What a surprise! Mr. Coulombe lays out a detailed (and to me, unexpected) argument that the problems extend centuries back to the reintroduction of Aristotelian logic to European thought. The introduction to ultra-realism and nominalism alone was worth the price of this book. His arguments against Baptism of Desire and in support of E.E.N.S. are solid and I've noticed that elsewhere in trad-land, these topics can quickly make a man persona non grata. Often such bitterly emotional responses are indications that something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and after reading this book, you'll have good reasons to believe it so. A must read.
Coulombe, in characteristically witty style, upholds the primacy of the Will over the Intellect and Plato over Aristotle, and he cuts through the fog and the "slithering" of certain theologians and philosophers.
It is Coulombe's assertion that the Church has long taught the necessity of water baptism for salvation, despite common deviation in the last two centuries. Before then, "There were those who believed in Invincible Ignorance, and in Baptism of Desire. But these were for the most part confined to Universities and Seminaries."
He points out that it was common practice for jailed catechumens and those in danger of death to be baptized, and so claims that use them as examples for "baptism of desire" or "baptism of blood" are unsubstantiated -- "one's own fallen blood, sprung of Adam, simply could not have the salvific effects of Christ's Precious Blood", he writes. He argues in response to users of St. Ambrose's Oration that the saint "in fact knew, that Valentinian had indeed been baptized, but was not at liberty to reveal the circumstances of the event, which presumably were bound up with the Emperor's mysterious death". He also highlights potential contradictions in St. Thomas Aquinas' stance. And he says that while the Council of Trent ruled that "the laver of regeneration or its desire" brings *justification*, it does not necessarily bring *salvation* ("which can only come about if the individual goes ahead and receives the Sacrament and then finally perseveres", according to the author).
There's a lot in here. For background, Coulombe shares several enlightening bits on the Americas that are given more context in his other work, and he goes into much detail on the case of Fr. Leonard Feeney, whom he clearly admires a great deal.
It would be nice if this work (written in 1993) were to be expanded to answer CCC #1258-1261.
Charles Coulombe does a fantastic job of reminding Catholics that the Church means what she says: There is no salvation outside the church. Be prepared to have whatever you think you know about church history/theology thrown out the window.
In Desire and Deception, Mr. Coulombe has presented several lines of evidence for a strict interpretation of the doctrine, "Extra Ecclesium Nulla Salus". Whether or not you agree with his conclusions or analysis (I can't say I do completely), I think it is difficult to come away from this book without realizing that something has gone terribly wrong in the Catholic Church over the last century. Simply put, if our doctrines inspire indifferentism rather than zeal for the salvation of souls outside of the Church, then something is dreadfully amiss.
I have subtracted two stars for the following reasons:
1) I believe it would have been beneficial to better represent more conservative interpretations that lie somewhere between Frs. Feeney and Rahner.
2) There are numerous typographical errors that need to be corrected. If Vincent reads these reviews, I would be willing to send him an email with the errors I found.
Thank you, Tumblar House and Mr Coulombe!
This compact book quickly goes through the history of a subject that is often forgotten by many Catholics and yet is essential to the mission of the Church. Having been a convert to the Catholic faith, I found the book made me contemplate why I came into the faith. This book helps to elaborate on the necessity of the Church for salvation, and how that underlies great missionary activity and zeal for the faith. Without this, there are not many reasons to convert to or stay in the faith. From this book, hopefully everyone will gain zeal to bring converts into the faith and have hope for people to come into the Church.
These were the first books I've read by Mr. Coulombe. I consider myself quite lucky to have found someone as insightful and knowledgeable in such an enormously important subject, particularly in these days. I look forward to reading all his other books.
Desire & Deception
Very convincing and well-argued