Be sure to listen to Following The Truth on October 26, 2011 at 8 PM Eastern as I’ll be interviewing Teresa Tomeo about Extreme Makeover!
When I first heard about Teresa Tomeo’s new book from Ignatius Press, Extreme Makeover (Women Transformed By Christ, Not Conformed To The Culture), I assumed that it would be a “woman’s book”. Accepting that fact, I still wanted to read it in order that I could recommend it to the ladies. After reading this book, however, I was pleased to discover that everyone (including men) can benefit from her powerful message.
One of the main reasons I appreciate Teresa Tomeo’s work is that she just flat out “gets” the Catholic Church and the culture in which we live. More importantly, she understands that they are at odds with each other. Society tells us to “do whatever feels good” and the Church tells us to imitate the example of Jesus. The media tells us that the Church is “old fashioned” and that babies are an inconvenience while the Church reminds us that truth doesn’t change and that life is a precious gift from God.
I found this book difficult to put down. In the opening chapter (What’s a Girl Like Me Doing in a Church Like This?), Teresa gives her personal testimony and offers first hand proof that “the Truth will set you free” (John 8:32). That “Truth”, of course, is found in Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church. In the pursuit of happiness and freedom, Tomeo bought into the lies put forth by the media: career first, total self centeredness, and the irrelevance of the Church. Now, after finding out for herself that this approach won’t bring happiness or even freedom, she can honestly declare that “God and His Church have it right”!
As she presents the various topics such as the “abortion distortion” and the “contraception deception”, we learn of the many instances where the media misleads us in order to further their own biased message. Did you ever think about where the term “pro-choice” came from? Tomeo provides a little history and enlightens us that this was a carefully selected choice of words designed to take the focus away from the horror of abortion. Coversely, those of us who support life are consistently described by the media as being “anti-abortion” or “anti-choice”. These terms were also deliberately chosen by abortion supporters (and the media) in an attempt to promote their agenda and characterize us as negative and against “choice”. As for the “contraception deception”, Teresa doesn’t hold back as she proclaims that “the Church is spot-on when she says contraception is a barricade to true intimacy and openness between spouses and between them and God”. She supports this argument with sound research and first-hand knowledge, providing a much needed rebuttal to the message proclaimed every day by the media.
One of the most powerful topics in this book deals with Jesus, His Church, and the Dignity of Women. When was the last time you heard the all male priesthood defended by the media, especially by a woman? Teresa devotes an entire chapter to the Church as a defender of women’s dignity. There is no way I can do it justice, so I’ll simply say that she makes her point articulately, convincingly and with lots of references to Church documents. As further proof of the fact that she “gets” the Church, Tomeo includes the much underutilized sacrament of reconciliation as part of her Spiritual Beauty Plan for women. Well done!
Rounding off this book are personal testimonies from several women who have come to appreciate the beauty and truth found in the Catholic Church. As a man, I can speak to women about these topics 24 hours a day, but the message is a hundred times more powerful when it comes from other women. I strongly recommend this book for all women as it presents the truth that you won’t get from watching TV. As for men, I urge you to buy this book for the women in your life, but make sure you read it first…there’s a lot you can learn from it too!