It may be that Ralph MacInerny's "Leave of Absence," reviewed by Carol A. Crotta (The Book Review, Aug. 24) is a "seriously bad" novel.
It is equally possible that Crotta, as a lay Catholic (assumed) knows nothing about the historical tensions the Thomist religious position and that of Duns Scotus created. The "God of Mercy" versus the "God of Power" question is still a lively issue in many theological circles, and had Crotta understood the relative positions, her view of McInerny's best friends might have been less flip.
The Thomist/Scotist debate is at the heart of Milton's "Paradise Lost," and as such is easily accessible. What Crotta calls "high-minded, pointless name-dropping" might really be indicative of a much deeper conflict between those characters, but let us not bother Crotta with education.
I would like to suggest, though, that in future book reviews, The Times choose reviewers who can back a comment with some minimal acquaintance with the subject, or at the very least have the curiosity to explore a subject before tossing off what sounds cute but what is in fact mere glibness.