The Political Arena

IP#228 Mary Eberstadt – How the West Really Lost God on Inside the Pages

“How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization” is a phenomenal book on this subject.web-4  Mary Eberstadt delivers a compelling theory about the decline of the Christian religion in the Western world. By the analysis of data on the family,  from pre-Revolutionary France to contemporary culture in the West, she demonstrates how the natural family is the prime nurturing force for Christianity in society.  When that family structure dissolves, so does the Christian religion in a culture and the rise of secularization is fostered.  While presenting the problem, she also offers hope for the future.   Another fascinating and provocative read by Mary Eberstadt!

How-the-WestYou can find the book here

“An absolutely brilliant and strikingly fresh portrait of the ‘double-helix’ of faith and family, coupled with a potentially game-changing analysis of the why and how of secularization, all written with the sparkle and empathy that characterize the work of one of America’s premier social analysts.” —George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C.
“Mary Eberstadt’s account of the synergistic relationship between the fracturing of the family and declining religiosity is both chilling and utterly convincing. No theorist of secularization has come close to Eberstadt in sociological insight or explanatory power.”

— Mary Ann Glendon, author of The Forum and the Tower: How Scholars and Politicians Have Imagined the World from Plato to Eleanor Roosevelt

“A brilliant contribution to the really big question about the future of the West, and a pleasure to read.”—Rodney Stark, author of The Rise of Christianity

IP#293 Michael Novak – Social Justice Isn’t What You Think It Is on Inside the Pages pt 2

Michael NovakWhat a delight to talk once again to Michael Novak especially about “Social Justice Isn’t What You Think.” Co-authored with Paul Adams, this book is fantastic! Clearly written, it offers all who read its pages a depth to the subject matter few other works have been able to provide. They rescue the term “social justice” from those who would misuse the term to foster various agendas. As Fr. James Schall critiques so well, “No concept in ethical and political philosophy is more in need of clarification and critical analysis than that of “social justice.” This term is a relatively late arrival in Catholic vocabulary. Adams and Novak provide a careful, thorough analysis of the term and the ideas and approach that make it useful. This is a very welcome book, not to be missed by anyone at all concerned with public order and understanding.” Not to be missed!

Here is part 2 of our conversation.

Social Justice Isn't What You ThinkYou can find the book here
Adams and Novak write with compelling clarity and force. They make a rich contribution to our understanding of social justice and the policy implications that flow from it. – Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia

Elegantly, winsomely, and with telling examples, Adams and Novak show how Catholic Social Thought challenges conventional “liberal” and “conservative” approaches to social issues. This is a terrific book for anyone who is prepared to look anew at the dilemmas facing a society that aspires to be both free and compassionate. – Mary Ann Glendon, Professor of Law, Harvard University

 

IP#292 Michael Novak – Social Justice Isn’t What You Think It Is on Inside the Pages pt 1

Michael NovakWhat a delight to talk once again to Michael Novak especially about “Social Justice Isn’t What You Think.” Co-authored with Paul Adams, this book is fantastic!  Clearly written, it offers all who read its pages a depth to the subject matter few other works have been able to provide. They rescue the term “social justice” from those who would misuse the term to foster various agendas.  As Fr. James Schall critiques so well, “No concept in ethical and political philosophy is more in need of clarification and critical analysis than that of “social justice.” This term is a relatively late arrival in Catholic vocabulary. Adams and Novak provide a careful, thorough analysis of the term and the ideas and approach that make it useful.  This is a very welcome book, not to be missed by anyone at all concerned with public order and understanding.” Not to missed!

Here is part 1 of our conversation.

Social Justice Isn't What You ThinkYou can find the book here
Adams and Novak write with compelling clarity and force. They make a rich contribution to our understanding of social justice and the policy implications that flow from it. – Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia

Elegantly, winsomely, and with telling examples, Adams and Novak show how Catholic Social Thought challenges conventional “liberal” and “conservative” approaches to social issues. This is a terrific book for anyone who is prepared to look anew at the dilemmas facing a society that aspires to be both free and compassionate. – Mary Ann Glendon, Professor of Law, Harvard University

 

IP#270 Jay Richards – The Hobbit Party on Inside the Pages

Jay-RichardsWhat fun!  I love reading and discussing great authors and their work (especially if it’s someone of the caliber of J. R. R. Tolkien) . Throw into the mix the fundamentals of Catholic Social teaching, a bit of religion, history and politics  and suddenly you have a party…“The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot “ to be exact.   Much has written about Tolkien’s religious connotations in “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings”, but authors Jay Richards and Jonathon Witt delve interestingly enough into the political aspects of the novels.  For fans of the books (and/or the movies for that matter), this a wonderful source of light which illuminates yet another facet of Tolkien’s incredible literary diamond.  Dr. Jay Richards is always great to talk with and what a joy to engage on this topic.

The-Hobbit-Party

You can find the book here

“J. R. R. Tolkien is one of the most widely read but arguably misunderstood of the twentieth century’s literary geniuses. In this book, Witt and Richards lift the veil on Tolkien and reveal a political and, yes, economic thinker who constantly surprises readers and whose insights are even more valuable for our time than his own. Tolkien fans who read this book will never think about this great author the same way again.”
— Samuel Gregg, Research Director, Acton Institute Author, Becoming Europe

“This book is a ‘drop everything and read it’ book. Richards and Witt have opened up an often ignored aspect of Tolkien’s work, namely the sense in which his myth bespeaks a political and economic order that stands in stark, even violent, contrast to the presiding power structures that dominate this unhappy globe. It should be made required reading in all courses in political philosophy. It’s a glorious book.”
— Thomas Howard, Author, Dove Descending: A Journey into T. S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets”

IP#147 Dr. Raymond Dennehy – Jacques Maritain’s Christianity and Democracy and the Rights of Man and the Natural Law on Inside the Pages

Dr. Raymond Dennehy was a delight to talk to about the work and influence of 20th century French philosopher Jacques Maritain.  Ignatius Press has published in a special one volume set,  Maritain’s “Christianity and Democracy and the Rights of Man and the Natural Law”, which  provides key insights for Christians in shaping the political and social orders.

Jacques Maritain was one of the principal exponents of Thomism, the philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas, in the modern world. He lived for many years in the United States, and taught at Princeton University and Columbia University. After WWII, he served as the French ambassador to the Vatican. He also helped draft the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

 You can find the book here

  • “Maritain was one of the pioneers of the Catholic human rights revolution, which changed the course of 20th century politics. While helping the Church through a genuine development of social doctrine, Maritain helped forge some of the tools that eventually broke through the Berlin Wall.” – George Weigel, Ethics and Public Policy Center

“In these passionate words one encounters the mind of Maritain in all its vigor and variety. His reflections on the challenges facing the world’s democratic experiments – starkly realistic yet infused with Christian hope – are as timely today as they were seventy years ago.” – Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard University

“This has been one of my all-time favorite ‘David books’ – those little books that take down Goliaths. Almost single-handedly, Maritain launched a hypothesis on the Christian (and Jewish) origins of the foundational axioms of democracy, of which many atheists are now coming to admit the truth. The sheer power of his hypothesis is more evident with every passing year. The republication of this classic is therefore bound to kindle longing for a deeper, more just reevaluation.” – Michael Novak, American Enterprise Institute

IP#259 Sheila Liaugminas – Non-Negotiable on Inside the Pages

sheila_liaugminas“Non-Negotiable: Essential Principles of a Just Society and Humane Culture” by Sheila Liaugminas is a fantastic book which clearly articulates the essence of Catholic Social Doctrine, especially those teachings which touch the lives of Catholic Americans. She addresses important challenges many face in the arena of politics and cultural relativism and offers solid guidance in the struggle to restore respect for human dignity.   Excellent!

Non-NegotiableYou can find the book here

“I truly admire Sheila Liaugminas. She is an outstanding journalist. We have dialogued extensively on her radio program about the rights of conscience and the protection of what we call our ‘first principles.’ Sheila has laid out in great breadth and depth the need for a revived understanding of the essentials of human dignity and societal organization.”
– Jeff Fortenberry, Member of Congress

“Both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have spoken of the ‘dictatorship of relativism’ in our world today and its negative impacts not just on our faith, but to the common good of society. Shelia Liaugminas draws upon the universal principle of natural human rights and dignity to address several contemporary moral issues which have suffered as a result of a relativistic mindset. Her book is a valuable resource in the struggle to restore a true, just and virtuous society.”
– Most Reverend Thomas Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield, Illinois

WOL6 – Democracy, Tocqueville, and St. John Paul II – Reflections on the teachings of St. John Paul II w/ Dr. Carson Holloway – Discerning Hearts

WOL6 – Episode 6-  “Democracy in America” by Alexis de Tocqueville is the focus of this episode.  What is “democracy” and why did it work it in the American experience.  There is much that is good and sound in the founding of “modern western democracy”, but what has happened in the view of “Evangelium Vitae” that has possible knocked it off track.

The Way of Life, Carson Holloway examines the fundamental philosophers of modernity-from Hobbes to Toqueville-to suggest that St. John Paul II’s critique of modernity is intended not to reject, but to improve. Thus, claims Holloway, it is appropriate for liberal modernity to attend to the Pope’s thought, receiving it not as the attack of an enemy but as the criticism of a candid friend.

   For other episodes in the series visit Dr. Holloway’s Discerning Hearts page

This series is based on Dr. Holloway’s book “The Way of Life”

WOL5 – The “Declaration of Independence” – Reflections on the teachings of St. John Paul II w/ Dr. Carson Holloway – Discerning Hearts

WOL5 – Episode 5-  The  “Declaration of Independence” and American political philosophy and what it involves.  What is the “natural law” and how it applies to political thought.  There are principals of political “rights and wrongs” and these are the foundations for political practice (which are not always followed by the human person).  What are the “self-evident” truths?  What are “natural rights”?  Why did this system of thought survive given the American experience compared to the results of the French revolution and its theories?  Both might be “children” of the Enlightenment, but one was hostile to Christianity, the other embraced it.

The Way of Life, Carson Holloway examines the fundamental philosophers of modernity-from Hobbes to Toqueville-to suggest that St. John Paul II’s critique of modernity is intended not to reject, but to improve. Thus, claims Holloway, it is appropriate for liberal modernity to attend to the Pope’s thought, receiving it not as the attack of an enemy but as the criticism of a candid friend.

   For other episodes in the series visit Dr. Holloway’s Discerning Hearts page

This series is based on Dr. Holloway’s book “The Way of Life”

WOL4 – David Hume, The Scottish Enlightenment and the Culture of Death – Reflections on the teachings of Pope John Paul II w/ Dr. Carson Holloway – Discerning Hearts

WOL4 – Episode 4 –  The Scottish Enlightenment…what was it and why was it such an important movement to understand.  The influence of David Hume – Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist.  The flaw in Hume’s philosophy –  that self-interest is  stronger than sympathy, and if morality, according to Hume’s thinking,  is derived from the passions, then ultimately self-interest is a greater worth and motivator than sympathy.  This conflicts with the Christian understanding of the “Golden Rule” and fuels the Culture of Death…those in need become very vulnerable in the culture.

The Way of Life, Carson Holloway examines the fundamental philosophers of modernity-from Hobbes to Toqueville-to suggest that John Paul II’s critique of modernity is intended not to reject, but to improve. Thus, claims Holloway, it is appropriate for liberal modernity to attend to the Pope’s thought, receiving it not as the attack of an enemy but as the criticism of a candid friend.

  

For other episodes in the series visit Dr. Holloway’s Discerning Hearts page

This series is based on Dr. Holloway’s book “The Way of Life”

RN36 – Regnum Novum – “The International Community” – Compendium of Social Doctrine Chap 9

Episode 36- Regnum Novum: Bringing forth the New Evangelization through Catholic Social Teaching with Omar GutierrezOmar-Gutierrez-1We continue the study of the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church”  Chapter 9 “The International Community”

CHAPTER NINE
THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

I. BIBLICAL ASPECTS
a. 
Unity of the human family
b. 
Jesus Christ, prototype and foundation of the new humanity
c. 
The universal vocation of Christianity

II. THE FUNDAMENTAL RULES OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
a. 
The international community and values b. Relations based on harmony between the juridical and moral orders

III. THE ORGANIZATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
a. 
The value of international organizations
b. 
The juridical personality of the Holy See

IV. INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION FOR DEVELOPMENT
a. 
Cooperation to guarantee the right to development
b. 
The fight against poverty
c. 
Foreign debt

We live at a very special time. The confluence of many things has brought forth the clear need to be able to articulate the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church in a way that is accessible and applicable. This is not to be an effort where high-minded theories are to be bandied about. Rather, this is a time of opportunity wherein we can apply the Social Doctrine to the concrete so as to bring about a New Kingdom, a Revolution. – Omar G.

Also visit Omar’s “Discerning Hearts” page Catholic Social Teaching 101

Urging-of-Christ's-Love

 

You can find Omar Gutierrez’s book here

In The Urging of Christ’s Love Omar Gutiérrez tells the stories of eleven people who lived their lives in pursuit of Christ Jesus. Each Saint, Blessed or Servant of God is considered in the context of Catholic Social Teaching. Then at the end of each chapter a prayer is offered and quotes from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church are provided in order to link the lessons we can learn from the saint’s life to Church teaching. By discovering some new saint friends, and rediscovering some old ones, The Urging of Christ’s Love presents Catholic Social Teaching in an accessible and important way.

WOL3 – Hobbes, Locke and the Culture of Death – Reflections on the teachings of Pope John Paul II w/ Dr. Carson Holloway – Discerning Hearts

WOL3 – Episode 3 -The influence of Thomas Hobbes and his role as the father of modern-day liberalism.  Absolute monarchy and the tyranny of “unlimited” government.  The difference between Divine-right monarchy and Absolute monarchy, and the legitimacy thought behind “dictatorship”.   How this affects ruling systems in history, and it’s influence on the “Culture of Death”.  Who was John Locke?  The Law of Nature and it’s obligations according to Locke’s thought.  The fundamental rule to preserve oneself.  Bl. John Paul’s response to that thought…to respect the moral law and give of oneself.

The Way of Life, Carson Holloway examines the fundamental philosophers of modernity-from Hobbes to Toqueville-to suggest that John Paul II’s critique of modernity is intended not to reject, but to improve. Thus, claims Holloway, it is appropriate for liberal modernity to attend to the Pope’s thought, receiving it not as the attack of an enemy but as the criticism of a candid friend.

  

For other episodes in the series visit Dr. Holloway’s Discerning Hearts page

This series is based on Dr. Holloway’s book “The Way of Life”

WOL2 – What is “Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)” -The Way of Life – Reflections on the teachings of Pope John Paul II w/ Dr. Carson Holloway – Discerning Hearts

WOL2 – Episode 2 – What is “Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)”?  What does this have to do with Liberal Modernity?  What is wrong with public culture we now have?  What is the Culture of Death?  Are there defects that go at the deepest foundational levels of our culture that have led to this behavior?  Human dignity has to be recognized on all levels.  Who was Thomas Hobbes, English philosopher and proponent of absolute government?  His life and times? And what are the damaging effects  of his thought on the value of the human person?  What would be Bl. John Paul’s response?

The Way of Life, Carson Holloway examines the fundamental philosophers of modernity-from Hobbes to Toqueville-to suggest that John Paul II’s critique of modernity is intended not to reject, but to improve. Thus, claims Holloway, it is appropriate for liberal modernity to attend to the Pope’s thought, receiving it not as the attack of an enemy but as the criticism of a candid friend.

 

For other episodes in the series visit Dr. Holloway’s Discerning Hearts page

  

This series is based on Dr. Holloway’s book “The Way of Life”

IP#214 Dr. Benjamin Wiker – Worshipping the State on Inside the Pages

Dr. Benjamin Wiker once again brings to us a fascinating, well-researched, and informative historical review of the multiple factors which have brought us to the rise of  “secularDr.-Benjamin-Wiker liberalism” in the United States.  This is not book about political parties, but rather the overall mindset that has infected every fabric of our society. He demonstrates the interplay between ideas and events. By looking at the teachings of certain influential philosophers (Machiavelli, Hobbes, Spinoza, Rousseau, and Locke) he demonstrates the “step-by-step” descent  which has led us to  point where various aspects of our culture lift up the “belief of unbelief”, a strange paradox which ultimately undermines the integrity of the moral life of a society.  Dr. Wiker is delightfully engaging to talk with.  I always look forward to reading his books…over and over again.

Worshipping-the-StateYou can find the book here

“Benjamin Wiker’s book is the most forthright and unblinking analysis yet published of the ubiquitous assault on religion in American society. Not only every religious believer but every believer in religious liberty should read it.’

James Hitchcock, Professor of History, St. Louis University and author of What is Secular Humanism?, The Recovery of the Sacred, and The Supreme Court and Religion in American Life.

IP#75 Dr. Marc Guerra – Christians As Political Animals on Inside the Page

“Christians as Political Animals: Taking the Measure of Modernity and Modern Democracy” as fascinating work that looks at faith, reason, virtue, and the limits of modern liberty. Dr. Marc Guerra, professor of the graduate program at Ave Maria University, brings forward Augstine and Aquinas, as well as 20th century theologians and political philosophers, to help us recognize that Christian thought must keep a proper prospective in viewing the political realm, and not to surrender our call and response as members of the body of Christ.  Is it heading stuff?  Not at all, faith and reason anchored in Truth, is for all of us to understand…it should be the true rudder we use to navigate the political landscape.

You can find Dr. Guerra’s book here

IP#156 Fr. Robert Sirico – Defending the Free Market on Inside the Pages

Fr. Robert Sirico offers an engaging presentation of the moral foundation for the free market.  He helps us to see our economy, not as a “mechanism” but rather as a dynamic of human relationship.  When this is done, basic principles found in Catholic Social Teaching can then be applied and used to redeem a system that can bring about the common good.  Many view the free market theory and policies as rationalization for the excess found in capitalism and fuel for the sins in the heart of some capitalists.  Fr. Sirico, doesn’t deny this reality, but instead helps us to see the goodness hidden beneath the distorting effects of moral failure, challenging us to bring the light of virtue into the system which can enhance the dignity of the human person and better the society as a whole.  An important and fascinating topic for our time, Fr. Sirico somehow manages to make a potentially dry subject compelling and relevant by sharing much from his own spiritual journey and life.  An excellent read…highly recommended to all.

You can find the book here

“I’ve been doing financial counseling and education for over two decades, and one thing that has always stood out to me is how much money is connected to every part of our lives, from relationships to politics to ministry. Money is never just about money; it’s always just part of the issue. That’s why I appreciate Father Robert Sirico’s ministry. Sure, he talks about money, but he also shows how all of these different aspects of our lives interact with and impact each other.”
Dave Ramsey, New York Times best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio show host

IP#129 Mary Ann Glendon – The Forum and The Tower on Inside the Pages

It was with great joy to be able to speak with Mary Ann Glendon about  “The Forum and the Tower: How Scholars and Politicians Have Imagined the World, from Plato to Eleanor Roosevelt”.  A fascinating book that chronicles not only the thoughts, but also the lives of  12 notable philosophers and/or statesmen throughout history.  The “and/or” is important, because not all can can successfully combine both.  In fact, only  two in this particular work, are found to be that complete “Philosopher Statesman”.   Why is that so?  Why is difficult for one who develops a theory to put it into practice?  And on personal level on my part, that this is one of the most enjoyable and engaging converstations I’ve been blessed to have in this particular “forum”.  We also discuss Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI and their influence in today’s world.

Mary Ann Glendon is Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and is a former United States Ambassador to the Vatican. She holds A.B., J.D., and M.C.L. degrees from the University of Chicago. In 2004, Pope John Paul II named her as the first woman to serve as President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

You can find the book here
About the Book:

As Aristotle noted long ago, two very different and sometimes incompatible ways of life—the political and the philosophical—exert a powerful pull on the ambitious and talented members of any society. Mary Ann Glendon, who teaches at Harvard Law School, says that she sees this double attraction in her students. Some go into politics, but many turn away, fearful of the compromises and corruptions of power. Such students may go on to become teachers and scholars, but they never quite give up on the idea of “making a difference” in the wider, public world, even if they aren’t quite sure how to do it. Ms. Glendon’s The Forum and the Tower profiles 12 figures in Western history who struggled—not always successfully—with the conflict between an active life and a contemplative one, between ‘life in the public forum and life in the ivory tower.’… The Forum and the Tower is a wise exploration of the eternal tension between action and thought.
— Brian C. Anderson, The Wall Street Journal

IP#124 Marcello Pera – Why We Should Call Ourselves Christian on Inside the Pages

It was an honor to have a conversation with Marcello Pera, who  served as president of the Italian Senate from 2001 to 2006 and who now teaches political philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.  We discussed his book “Why We Should Call Ourselves Christians: The Religious Roots of Free Societies.  He maintains “that the very ideas on which liberal societies are based and by which they can be justified—the dignity of the human person, the moral priority of the individual, the view that man is a “crooked timber” inclined to prevarication, the limited confidence in the power of the state to render him virtuous—are distinctively Christian or, more precisely, Judeo-Christian ideas. Take them away and the open society will collapse.”  A  fascinating insight from a European viewpoint why America has succeeded in the past and the danger it faces in the future.

 “The challenges of our particular historical moment”, as Pope Benedict XVI calls them in the Preface to the book, can be faced only if we stress the historical and conceptual link between Christianity and free society.

 

IP#107 John Mueller – Redeeming Economics on Inside the Pages

“Redeeming Economics: Rediscovering the Missing Element”, boy do we need this now! John Mueller, of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, does an extraordinary job of pointing out what we are missing in all the discussions about economics…the fundamental productive unit – the family.  He helps us to leap forward by looking backwards, by looking at the error in Adam Smith’s theory which has had no way to account for a fundamental aspect of human experience: the social relationships that define us, the loves (and hates) that motivate and distinguish us as persons.

In trying to reduce human behavior to mere exchanges, modern economists have lost sight of how these essential motivations are expressed: as gifts (or their opposite, crimes). Mueller makes economics whole again, masterfully reapplying economic thought as articulated by Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas.

Contrarian and compelling, Redeeming Economics covers everything from unemployment, to inflation, to the economics of parenthood, to the greatest geopolitical challenge facing the United States, to flaws in the mega-bestseller Freakonomics, to the author’s illuminating exchange with the controversial philosopher Peter Singer.

 

 

Learn more about the book here

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