Book Review: Loss and Gain

Feb 7th, 2011 | By | Category: Blog Posts

If you are a Reformed Christian and considering the Catholic Church then you have probably already immersed yourself in some of the classic theological works so dearly loved by Catholic Christians. It might be time to take a break.  Reading too much dense theology can have some serious side effects (including conversion to the Catholic Church). Why not put down the Summa for a few weeks in exchange for a good novel?

Thanks to Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman, theology geeks no longer have to decide between reading a good novel and reading good theology. If you’re unfamiliar with Blessed Newman’s life and work, his first novel, Loss and Gain, is a must read. Newman was an extremely influential Anglican priest and leader of the English Oxford Movement who converted to the Catholic Church in 1845. Three years after coming into the Church, Newman retold the story of his conversion in Loss and Gain through the fictional character Charles Reding. Although there are major differences between Newman and Reding, there is no doubt that Newman imposed his own thought process into his main character’s discovery of the Catholic Church. Set in the early half of the 19th century in Victorian England, Newman transports the reader into the high minded world of Oxford University where students were beginning to ask questions that many came to believe could only be resolved in the Catholic Church.

Bl. Cardinal John Henry Newman
Blessed Cardinal Newman

What makes this novel compelling is that it is real. When Reformed Christians convert to the Catholic Church they usually do so at a painful cost to themselves. Many of the authors at Called to Communion have permanently lost friends and deeply strained family relationships. Newman experienced the worst of this. Yet, he came to the conclusion (as he makes clear through his character Charles Reding) that the fullness of the Catholic Church would more than offset anything he had to give up in order to come home. Hence the title, Loss and Gain.

More than any other book I read in my own journey to the Catholic Church, Loss and Gain helped me to imagine what it would be like to actually become Catholic. The book reminded me that my Savior loved the Church enough to die for her and that, united to Him, I could certainly go through some temporary sufferings for her myself. If you are just beginning to open up to the possibility that the Catholic Church might be who she claims to be, or if you are already on the road to conversion, I can promise you that this book will be a worthwhile read along the way.

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  1. This book is available for free on the Kindle (or Kindle Reader for iPod/iPhone/iPad, Droid, etc.). I downloaded it last night, and I look forward to reading it, Jeremy. Thanks for the review!

  2. Great! I did not realize it is available for free on kindle. I’d love to hear what you think of it when you’re finished.

  3. Loss and Gain can also be read online, here.

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