Month: July 2009

Ignatius Press’ "Summer Super Sale"

Ignatius Press - Catholic Books
Ignatius Press is having its Summer Super Sale — Books as low as $3.00, with titles by Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, Thomas Howard, G. K. Chesterton, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Adrienne von Speyr, Josef Pieper, Joseph Pearce, Ronald, Knox, Jean Galot, Manfred Hauke, and many others. Videos as low as $5.00, with titles featuring Steve Ray, Scott Hahn, and Fulton Sheen. Prices are good through August 31, 2009.


Michael Burleigh

Despite a semester overseas in England and mandatory schooling in the subject, it is to my great regret that I neglected to pay much attention to European history in college. What I did study a decade ago I’ve barely retained — something I’ve been compensating for in years since, by way of a 45 minute subway commute that provides just enough time to get a few chapters in.

The British historian Michael Burleigh is one whose work I’ve discovered recently and have benefited greatly from reading. Earlier this year I finished Earthly Powers (“The Clash of Religion and Politics in Europe, from the French Revolution to the Great War”) and am now working through the sequel: Sacred Causes (“The Clash of Religion and Politics, from the Great War to the War on Terror”). Both volumes are fascinating studies of European history, through the prism of church-state relations and the myriad attempts of each to assume the role of the other. (more…)

Meet the Jeub Family.

“Life with a ‘Quiverful’ family: the story behind the story” – Reuters journalist Rick Wilking shares his experiences documenting the lives of a Christian “Quiverfull” family who have 15 children due to their belief that all family planning is best left in the hands of God.

Quiverfull, like any other belief system or philosophy, takes different forms. Believers generally view children as a gift from God and avoid all forms of birth control. To many, including the Jeubs, the movement means trusting God entirely to decide your family size by surrendering your life to God.

The Jeubs say that goes for their reproductive life too. “Wendy and I believe God wants us to trust Him in our family planning. The results are his to deal out. We’re more than fine by that. We are amazed (italics theirs) at how incredible the blessings have been…..We have 15 children, but why would we say that #16 wasn’t a blessing? Or #17? Or #18?”

Wilking talks about how the family’s initial hesitance to let him into their home (“They said they prayed on it hard and were led to let me into their home to tell their story through pictures and sound”). However, they aren’t entirely averse to the public eye. The Jeub family themselves have a website and a blog and share their tips and tricks on raising a family.

Reactions to families like the Jeubs (or the Duggars) are, of course, all too predictable.

Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical "Caritas in Veritate"

The chosen topic couldn’t be timelier. Forty years after the publication of Pope Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio, and following in the footsteps of his predecessor John Paul II (who marked its twenthieth anniversary with his own Sollicitudo Rei Socialis), Benedict conveys his desire to

“pay tribute and to honour the memory of the great Pope Paul VI, revisiting his teachings on integral human development and taking my place within the path that they marked out, so as to apply them to the present moment.”

It is Benedict’s conviction that Populorum Progressio deserves to be considered “the Rerum Novarum of the present age”, shedding light upon humanity’s journey towards unity.”

Benedict’s reflection is a lengthy and substantial one — 30,468 words: an introduction, six chapters, conclusion, and 159 footnotes, to be precise.

Pope Benedict XVI signs his new Encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate

Caritas in Veritate online

At the request of Joseph Bottum, I have been asked to do a roundup of news, coverage and commentary to the Pope’s encyclical Caritas et Veritate for the periodical First Things.

I will be posting my compilations there for at least the next week. (In that time, I will also be working on a new entry for the encyclical to be posted to our Benedict XVI Fan Club as well).

Charles Carroll — America’s Catholic Founding Father

Charles Carroll of Carrollton was a delegate to the Continental Congress and later United States Senator for Maryland. He was also the only Catholic to have signed the The Declaration of Independence. One of the wealthiest men in the colonies, it is reported that — upon fixing his signature,

a member standing near observed, “There go a few millions,” and all admitted that few risked as much, in a material sense, than the wealthy Marylander.

(The Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, 1737-1832, by Kate Mason Rowland).

A new biography, American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll (Lives of the Founders) (ISI) will be published in February 2010. (Tip of the hat to Carl Olson). The author, Dr. Bradley J. Birzer, was recently interviewed by the Washington Times:

Q: Carroll was the last of the signers to die. What did he have to say about America at the end of his life?

A: He was so critical of what happened to the republic after the founding. He’s very critical of the democratic element in the American republic – he’s worried that self-interest and greed are replacing republican virtue. So from the late 1700s, Carroll starts being called “the hoary-headed aristocrat.” He starts to be seen as a relic of an older age. But after Carroll dies, there’s a resurgence of his reputation. All across the country, the headlines read, “The last of the Romans is dead.”

And he was one of Alexis de Tocqueville’s main informants. So there are moments in de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (Penguin Classics) when he is being critical of the democratic spirit, and it seems very clear to me that he is taking that from his interview with Carroll.

Q: What does history get wrong about Carroll?

A: I’m always amazed at how much our own history, especially [in] our textbooks, tends to portray the founders as merely enlightened figures. And there’s no doubt they were. But the vast majority were Christian – Franklin and Jefferson being the exceptions that so many focus on. And the American people were intensely religious, mostly Protestant, at the time of the founding. I think it’s dangerous that we secularize the founding so much. We need to know the context – we need to know what inspired them to fight for liberty.

Read the whole thing.

This would make the second book published recently about the Catholic founding father, the first being Scott McDermott’s Charles Carroll of Carrollton: Faithful Revolutionary (Scepter Publications, 2001).

McDermott, a circulation librarian at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, writer and convert, began studying about Carroll after he came into the Church — In 2005, Zenit News interviewed him about his biography and Carroll’s influence on the founding fathers (Part I | Part II).

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I concur with the observation that the religiousity of many of our founding fathers is sadly overlooked and much neglected. Michael Novak made an important contribution to restoring a proper recognition to the religious roots of America’s founding with his On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding (2001), followed by Washington’s God, a study of the religious faith of the pre-eminent ‘Father of our Country’.