I’m not sure anyone wants to take credit for this book.
“Agenda for the Third Millennium” was an unexpected find one day at a used bookstore for theological nerds. The store was dangerous, full of old and new texts by saints, popes, and brilliant laity (and everyone in between). But this little volume “by His Holiness Pope John Paul II” caught my attention. At only $5, it was a steal.
This review will cover the disappointment of what this book isn’t as well as the high points of what this book is.
As a reviewer, I know to evaluate items for what they are. However, the title, “Agenda for the Third Millennium”, is so misleading that buyer must beware. This is not an agenda. Agenda in Latin is literally the things that need to be done. I was earnestly hoping this book would be something more like the encyclical Novo millennio ineunte–a plan for the future that I, as a discerning 30-something, desperately need. This book is not an agenda. It is rather a series of excerpts from St. JPII on different important topics: faith, the Church, prayer, love, history, evil, work, the world, peace, and religions. Despite the quality of the writing per se, nobody seems to take credit for the publication–the publisher is Harper Collins (1996), and the translations are done by Alan Neame, but the Introduction is simply signed ‘The Publisher.’
I have never known a publisher to take such credit.
The writings of the Pope as credited in the back span from 1978-1994–coherent in doctrine but hardly unified in any other way. It is not the kind of book to dive into.
However, despite all those annoying deviations from my expectations (thanks no thanks, title), I have to give all due credit to the wisdom of one of the world’s most popular saints. JPII was an extremely important pope and did much good for the Church. Although the book can be awkward to read cover-to-cover, it does cover many of the most important problems today and sheds light on ecclesiastical views of those issues. It is an extremely useful little book.
And it is little. My edition, at least, is only slightly bigger than my cell phone, although 3x as thick. It is convenient to carry and read snippets at time for prayer. That, perhaps, is the best use for this book. It is a series of over 100 excerpts of JPII, none of which are too long, so they are easy to read in only a few minutes here and there. I would place it in an Adoration chapel or a personal prayer space.
“Agenda for the Third Millennium” is certainly worth the $5 I spent. While not a coherent papal writing, there is a lot of wisdom in its passages.
-Ann Moser, at twitter @interceptorismy.
Disclaimer: Posts are mine, and I attempt to write according to orthodox Roman Catholicism. Please bring any errors in doctrine to my attention.