SAN DIEGO – As host of the popular radio program “Catholic Answers Live,” Cy Kellett is on the air every weekday afternoon, helping callers with questions about the Catholic faith.
During his four years with the show, Kellett has realized that many people are “innocently ignorant of almost everything Christian” because they have grown up in secular homes and attended secular schools.
He said that many don’t even know “very basic stuff,” like how long ago Jesus lived.
With his new book, A Teacher of Strange Things: Who Jesus Was, What He Did, and Why People Still Follow Him, Kellett goes back to basics.
“It’s not high theology; it’s written in very simple terms,” he said of the book, which was published by Catholic Answers Press and will be available in late April. “The idea is, when you get done with it, you have a picture of who Jesus was and what He did.”
A Teacher of Strange Things is divided into three sections: “Who Jesus Was,” “What He Did,” and “Why People Still Follow Him.”
In the first and longest section, “Who Jesus Was,” Kellett attempts to situate Jesus and His ministry within the historical period, geographical location, and society in which He lived. Noting that all of the biographical information we have about Jesus was written down by people who were convinced of His divinity, he then explains why the details of Jesus’ life cannot be considered independently from that central claim.
Through a series of six chapters devoted to individual “moments” in Jesus’ life, including the Finding in the Temple and the Calling of St. Matthew, Kellett also reflects on what these stories can tell us about Jesus’ personality, giving readers a sense of what He was like as a person and what it would have been like to talk to Him or listen to Him.
The second section, “What He Did,” looks at what Jesus taught about morality and religion, as well as the meaning of His death on the cross.
In the final section, “Why People Still Follow Him,” Kellett explains “what it’s like to be a follower of Jesus.”
Kellett is an impassioned proponent of radio, which he describes as “a wonderful medium.”
“The best way to share the Gospel is talking with somebody. … That’s the way Jesus did it,” he said.
But he also acknowledges that one of radio’s limitations is that on-air explanations can’t be as comprehensive as one might like. That’s where books have an advantage.
Kellett is no stranger to the written word. He was on the staff of The Southern Cross from 1996 through 2007, serving for 10 years as its editor. In 2013, he published Ad Limina: A Novella of Catholics in Space, a futuristic tale about the first native-born bishop of Mars making his way to the Vatican. The book, which was Kellett’s first, offered moral insights under the guise of science-fiction.
Kellett said he wrote A Teacher of Strange Things primarily for people like himself, Catholic parents with children in their 20s “who either have rejected the faith, or are not sure about the faith, or [are] just wandering around not practicing the faith.” He envisions the book as something that such parents can give to their children.
Among his children’s friends, Kellett sees young adults who appear to be “stumbling through life,” lacking a strong connection to God or an understanding of what it truly means to be human.
“My absolute dream is that somebody, somewhere in that situation, will sit down with this book and, at the end of it, will go ‘Ah, I know the direction to go. I need to be closer to Jesus.’”