Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Product Review: Faith Database

Faith Database
CD: $39.95
[1,646 MB]
Annual upgrades planned.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program.
Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Faith Database CD-ROM.

Faith Database is the labor-of-love brain child of Tim Cooper who entered the Catholic Church in 2003. For five years, Cooper collected Catholic resources for his own study. Then, while leading a parish-based group on early church writings, he wrote a computer program linking doctrine to scripture and content in those early texts.

With encouragement and guidance from folks at Catholic Answers, the project evolved. Launched in August, Faith Database allows users to search through writings by the early Church fathers, Doctors of the Church, popes, and orthodox theologians (e.g., Chesterton, Newman); 10 different translations of scripture; Church Council documents; the Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Old Catholic Encyclopedia, the Baltimore Catechism, and the Code of Canon Law.

Via email I asked Tim to tell me more about his vision for the project. "My original intent was for all Catholics for wish to learn their faith better," he wrote. "As a former Protestant I can say with all sincerity that most Catholics don't know what they have and most Protestants don't know what they're missing." Yesterday I spent a lot of time wandering through Faith Database to see what was there and to evaluate the ease of navigation.

Mostly I used key words from research for my new book about the Jewish roots of Christian identity and religious practice. I greatly appreciated the convenience of having all church writings and scripture in one place. Normally I log on to several different websites to find this stuff. The database of art images and maps is a useful, inspiring addition.

While I didn't find everything I wanted, I did find material I needed and was pleased with that outcome. According to Cooper, he and business partner Jerry Suelzer plan to add approximately 10 new texts a month. Personally, I hope they either stick to agreed-upon classics or broaden their view of who is making important contributions to Catholic thought these days.

Technicalities: According to Tim, I'm not the only one who had installation troubles. He admits the install with Vista is very slow. They're working on a new installer program and encourage calls for technical support. I also found the navigation a bit cumbersome and hoping they add a spell check to their next iteration. I have every confidence these technical quirks will get worked out. Meanwhile, Faith Database is a good resource, one that does indeed introduce the Catholic faith.

1 comment:

  1. For Mac? Huh? Please? I neeeeeed it. I waaaaant it.


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