ISI Books writes to say

ISI Books writes to say November 13, 2013

I wanted to give you a heads-up that Maciej Ziȩba, OP—one of the foremost interpreters of the thought of Pope John Paul II—has arrived in the United States from his native Poland. Fr. Ziȩba, a close associate of John Paul, has written the new book Papal Economics: The Catholic Church on Democratic Capitalism, from Rerum Novarum to Caritas in Veritate, which Michael Novak calls “the definitive work on the economic teaching of the modern popes” and First Things calls “an invaluable resource for those who want to have a better understanding of the Catholic social justice tradition.”

Fr. Ziȩba will be in the United States through Nov. 20. ISI has arranged speaking engagements for him up and down the East Coast. (Tour dates below.) If you can’t make it to any of the events, I thought you might want to speak with Fr. Ziȩba while he’s here. If you wanted to e-mail me some questions for Fr. Ziȩba, I would be happy to see that he answered them.

Here are the tour dates:

Wednesday Nov. 13, First Things Editorial Office, New York, NY, 6:30 pm

  1. Thursday Nov. 14, University of Pennsylvania Collegium Institute, Philadelphia, PA, noon
  2. Thursday Nov. 14, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Wilmington, DE, 5:30 pm
  3. Friday Nov. 15, Mt. St. Mary’s University, Emmitsburg, MD, 3 pm
  4. Monday Nov. 18, Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, 5:30 pm
  5. Tuesday Nov. 19, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, noon
  6. Tuesday Nov. 19, Christendom College, Front Royal, VA, 4:00 pm

 Thanks for your consideration.

I’m a little leery of anything that Michael (“Christopher Hitchens is a treasure“) Novak is that effusive about since I’m leery of the tendency of his intellectual circle to torture papal teaching until it says what they want it to say, but on the other hand, the guy is a Dominican and I like ISI, so I’ll cut him some slack.  If you are in the area, you might want to check it out.

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  • Marthe Lépine

    I have read the comments about this book in First Things a few days ago and was left with the impression that your last paragraph is actually correct…

  • Marthe Lépine

    Me again… I have followed your last link and have just re-read the article in question (that I had read at the time it appeared), and it seems to me that the article can also serve as a good explanation of the fear and panic expressed by “some” conservatives through their reaction to Pope Francis…

  • Daniel Nichols

    He was instrumental in introducing Poland to neocon thought, and founded, with Novak, Weigel, and Fr Neuhaus, an annual conference in Krakow to the effect. And, yeah, if Novak praises you it is a bad sign….

  • Daniel Nichols

    And re your infatuation with the Dominicans, a friend’s son is at the Dominican House of Studies in DC. He reports that the friars were quite the Santorum enthusiasts in the last primary season. Just sayin’….

    • chezami

      That doesn’t sound much like the Western Province. Remember: when you’ve met one Dominican, you’ve met one Dominican.

      • IRVCath

        Exactly. While I’m pretty sure many of the newer crop of OPs are very, very orthodox from personal experience, they’re not exactly fans of torture and deportation. To them, Santorum would likely be “good in parts”. Maybe the further from Washington DC you get, the less wedded to poli-tricks a religious gets?

        • Daniel Nichols

          Yes, well I am sure that Santorum is “very very orthodox” by some standards. He’s fer the Eucharist, agin the Pill, etc. How you could miss his fervor for torture and aggressive foreign policy, or his Islamophobia, when you are an intellectual Dominican is beyond me. And according to this first hand report, they were beyond seeing Santorum as lesser evil; they were excited about this Catholic Candidate.

          • IRVCath

            Of course, this is nothing new. See, for example, how the Churchmen treated JFK and pretty much the entire Kennedy family before the 80s. In retrospect, I think the only ones that they would have been justified in lauding was Bobby and Eunice (Sargent Shriver too, but he’s only related by marriage). Even the saintliest of prelates can be seduced by a man in the political world who at least seems to take part of his Faith seriously in daily life.

            I can see a religious or a priest looking at Santorum, and seeing someone who goes to Mass every Sunday (even as many of their nominal flock can’t be bothered to show up for Easter), who follows Church teaching on sexual morality (even as many, perhaps even a majority, not only don’t know the teachings, but seemingly are in open, contemptuous defiance of what you say), who doesn’t dismiss you as a crackpot when you point out that the liturgy was not a toy, who seems to be one of the few that has seen the inside of a confessional in the past five years. The Dominican, even with all his education, likely thinks, “well, here’s a man who’s like me in so many ways.” As to the underside of his policies, remember, that most of them seemingly affect people not like him; this is an unconscious thing that happens, usually. The torture, of course, is Over There; the foreign policy, is Over There; and as for the Muslims, well, they’re not even Christian, which makes fellow-feeling hard, even as the secular media stokes the flames with images of Lower Manhattan in September. They’re largely Over There, too. But abortion, Kathleen Sebelius, gay marriage, etc. happens on our shores – they seem at first glance to be the more pressing problems.

            Then there’s the fact that it’s all too easy to get caught up in the mob – even intellectuals. The mobs of conservative Catholics can be intoxicating in their own way, as with any crowd during an election. Furthermore, Santorum, like any other good politician, is good at ginning up support by shaping his message. I know, because I myself was seduced into that sort of thing. It’s only when that mob mentality ended up with me voting for a pro-abortion candidate simply because he was a Republican (and there were truly pro-life candidates in the primary race – some even on the Republican ticket – but had little money to his name) that I, on the day after the election, was horrified at what I had done. A Dominican intellectual is no less a man than I. I can see where he would have been seduced.

            • Daniel Nichols

              I understand what you are saying, but this just confirms that “pelvic issues” alone do not a Catholic make. Indeed, if solidarity is the prime social virtue and the gospel of the poor is central, as Pope Francis insists, many may have to rethink their priorities. And yes, I expect more from Catholic academics. But then, as Fr Benedict Groeschel once said “The world is full of rich Franciscans, dumb Jesuits, Dominicans who can’t preach, and Salesians who hate small children.” It is a shame that Fr Benedict, whom I once knew, is probably destined to be remembered for confused comments made in a post-stroke mental haze, rather than for his many very wise and funny things he said. And believe me, he is way funnier and earthier when there are no microphones…

              • IRVCath

                Oh, I don’t doubt you. It’s merely that even friars can have dangerously myopic views. After all, Guantanamo is in Cuba, Abu Ghraib in Iraq – you don’t see it on a regular basis. On the other hand, the abortion clinic is down the road, I’m perhaps one of two people in this school who voted Yes on 8, and I’m typing this comment right now surrounded by people who likely think that the Sebelius Mandate is fine and dandy, and to hell with the Cathoilics, because Progress, that’s why. It’s short-termism and parochialism (no pun intended).

      • Daniel Nichols

        True; ironically, the Eastern Province and the House of Studies was the one long known for its “orthodoxy”, the one I attended Mass at regularly when I lived in the DC area, the one where I attended a couple of Third Order meetings (though I in the end never joined any third order). This was in the 80s, when things seemed simpler. Though I do remember once when a Christendom grad announced that the only duty of the State to the poor was one of sanitation, to dispose of their dead bodies when they died in the streets…. I should have known that we were in trouble, even back then, when the battle seemed to be one about doctrinal orthodoxy and reverent liturgies…

        • chezami

          Re: the Christendom grad: Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?

          • DevsLoVvlt

            With all due deference to Mr. Nichols’ memory, your comment is gratuitous, given that 1) the reference is a paraphrase (at best) of 2) a ~25yo comment 3) without context or 4) proper attribution. There appears to be no direct injury done to the anonymous Christendom grad, but the haste with which the unsavory implication was issued indicates credulity and cattiness. Please, Sir, less haste and more consideration?

        • IRVCath

          I think the reason that happened was the mentality of the Cold War, and the crisis in the Church. The ones who the secular press lauded for calling for relief for the poor and justice for immigrants were also the kind of Catholics who thought that someday, somehow, Humanae Vitae would be a dead letter and that the Pope would one day make abortion allowable for Catholics (Bernardin was an exception, but even he got tarred and feathered for vaguely sounding like the left-dissenters). Besides, they vaguely sounded like the stuff the atheistic leftists on university campuses were spouting – and supporting Communism is a sin, no? The ones who seemed like the obedient children seemed to be flocking to the free-marketeers (because that means they’re not commies, see?) and the Evangelical Protestants in the Republican Party. This seemed to be even more true after 1994, when the Democrats seemed to have decided they didn’t need people like Casey the Elder, or State Senator Roberti, anymore (I find it sad that the latter is remembered more for his gun-control legislation than for his consistent-approach to all life issues, seameless-garment and all). But when you surround yourself with free-marketers and with Evangelicals, there is a risk of their thought seeping into yours, if you’re not careful. You risk going native.

          From what I see of their novice blogs, though, the new crop seem to be less beholden to the belief that the GOP or the Conservative Movement will save us all, even in the Eastern Province. Meanwhile those in the Western has also seen that CST is consistent with the so-called hot-button issues. Maybe it’s because a good number of people entering the Dominicans (and other vocations) now have little memory of the Cold War polarization, and the bishops and superiors in terms of doctrine and faith seem to be a better bunch overall (with morals, I don’t know – but a discussion on the sex abuse crisis is a topic for another day). Most practicing young Catholics don’t have the same hang-ups as their predecessors. Appeals that solidarity sounds communistic doesn’t work on them, because aside from the North Koreans, Raul Castro and that idiot in Caracas, no-one really takes ideological Communism seriously anymore. Fears of dissident bishops fall on deaf ears because in America at least most are retired, men of another era.

          • Marthe Lépine

            Mention of “solidarity” sounding communistic rings like a serious disconnect to me… Because of the name of the movement in Poland that contributed mightily to the fall of communism: And I may be wrong, but I seem to recall that the “Solidarity” movement in Poland was also, or started from, a labour union. (That is not meant as a criticism of Mr. Javier’s comment here, it’s just that his comment brought this to mind.)

            • IRVCath

              I meant “collective aid”. Sorry.

  • thisismattwade

    I’d rather read Brandon Vogt’s upcoming book about the Church’s social teaching, which doesn’t have the scarlet “letter” of Novak’s approval. I know very little of Mr. Vogt, and it seems so does Mr. Novak – so he’s off to a good start!

  • sonofgray

    Based on reviews I’ve read, it does actual seem to articulate a fair assessment of the Social Teaching encyclicals. No marking out of parts of Caritas in Veritae that BXVI supposedly didn’t write. It’s possible Novak likes it because he’s just forgotten that solidarity actually matters when considering matters of social justice. That or he’s just “prudential judgement”-ed it away.

    • IRVCath

      Ah, yes – it seems prudential judgment is what American Catholic intellectuals use when they want to be court preachers for one of the political parties. It has an actual meaning – just not what they seem to use it for.

  • Sean P. Dailey

    Michael Novak also calls the battle of Lepanto a “pre-emptive strike” by the Holy League. Nuff said.