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148 BOOK REVIEWS the Creator may have fashioned in worlds that may lie forever beyond human reach. University ofNotre Dame Notre Dame, Indiana ERNAN MCMULLIN Marriage and Christian Life: A Theology of Christian Marriage. By DANIEL HAUSER. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2005. Pp. 210. $30.00 (paper). ISBN 0-7618-3057-X. In his new book, Marriage and Christian Life, Daniel Hauser addresses marriage and family issues from the standpoint of a systematic theologian committed to defending traditional Catholic positions. Throughout the text, Hauser contrasts the richness of Catholic theology with the poverty of contemporary popular thinking about marriage. His project is designed to show readers that the Christian tradition has something distinctive to offer, while the culture is morally bankrupt. Though he succeeds in providing a theologically sound portrait of sacramental marriage, his book is not as strong as it could be because it is overly abstract, does not treat recent academic and papal writing on marriage, and neglects the crucial social dimension of Catholic theology on marriage that is perhaps its greatest strength. Hauser's vision is refreshingly positive and modern in that it emphasizes the beauty of marriage as a religious vocation, something traditional treatises on marriage have not always done. He writes, "At the heart of marriage is the call to respond to the love of God. In the process of responding to God's love, I give myself to God and others in order to come to myself" (xvi). Throughout the book, he emphasizes the religious significance of marriage, defining it as "the means of preaching the gospel and bringing others to salvation, giving life spiritually and physically" (189). Relying on the theology of John Paul II, he claims that true freedom is not doing what we want but living the truth given by God (23-24), while true love is "dying to oneself for the good of another" (86). This is what Christian marriage is really all about. Unlike many theologians writing in this area, Hauser offers a thorough treatment of the nature of faith in Christ and the Church as the context for thinking about marriage as a sacrament (chap. 2) and a strong argument for the salvific nature of the sacraments and their place at the absolute center of Christian life (chap. 3). Crucial to his view of marriage is his understanding of the role of Christ in salvation history. Hauser provocatively asserts that the only real reason to get married is to be saved (83). Avoiding an overly spiritual description of this primary arena of salvation, he affirms the unity of body and BOOK REVIEWS 149 soul in human persons and shows that it is not apart from but "through our sexuality that we serve God" (88). His insistence that "we are our bodies" (89), and his claim that, because of our sinfulness, we need to rely on sacraments and each other for our salvation, are helpful correctives to overly romantic and spiritualized visions of marriage that still command attention. Clear presentation of sacramental theology is helpful, but concrete examples are needed to bring the theology down to earth. Unlike previous generations of theologians writing on marriage, theologians like Hauser (who is married with five children, according to his acknowledgements) have an asset in their experience of married life. There is a great need for married theologians (particularly fathers) to write about how they experience the sacrament of marriage in their every-day lives. Narratives would make the text more readable and more appropriate for classroom use. Perhaps more troubling is Hauser's limited engagement with recent academic theological writing on marriage and family. The bibliography lists only thirty sources. With the exception of papal writings, it includes very few theological texts on marriage written after 1981, and fewer footnotes than most texts of this kind. Major recent theological works in the theology of marriage and family by authors such as Lisa Sowle Cahill, Florence Caffrey Bourg, David Matzko McCarthy, Michael Lawler, Mary Shivanadan, and John Grabowski simply do not appear. Hauser seems to be in conversation with opponents both secular and Christian, but those opponents are rarely named or cited. Either/or statements instructing readers that they must...


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