Learned Hand: The Man and the Judge. By Gerald Gunther.
Knopf. 818 pp. $35
Professor Gerald Gunther sets out in this ambitious biography to depict both the inner life and judicial career of one of the cynosures of American law, Learned Hand. Alas, neither aspect of this immensely complex man-Felix Frankfurter referred to him as “the modern Hamlet”-is presented satisfactorily. Although he is admirably restrained in handling such matters as Hand’s marriage, Gunther fatuously prattles on about Hand’s fragile self-esteem and about his sense of being an outsider. However, Hand was utterly engaged by the intellectual life of his time, enjoyed a wide and enduring array of friends, and was a revered judge. The liberal Gunther’s larger problem is Hand’s abstemious view of the judge’s role. A former Hand clerk, Gunther has understandable admiration for this august jurist, but he is obviously uncomfortable with Hand’s profound judicial conservatism. For example, Gunther refers to Hand’s “harsh, law-and-order remarks” when in one case he wrote: “Our dangers do not lie in too little tenderness to the accused. Our procedure has always been haunted by the ghost of the innocent man convicted. It is an unreal dream. What we need to fear is the archaic formalism and the watery sentiment that obstructs, delays, and defeats the prosecution of crime.” This is, of course, plain common sense, but such language is anathema to the delicate sensibilities of the contemporary law professor. Hand was a critic of judicial activism throughout his career. His disgust with an activist judiciary is expressed with brilliant concision in the 1958 lectures published as The Bill of Rights . As Gunther observes: “Hand attacked the propriety of the Supreme Court acting as a ‘third legislative chamber’ and behaving in the manner of lawmaker by second-guessing the merits of legislative choices via constitutional adjudication”-a critique that explicitly included Brown v. Board of Education . In a time when judges routinely make social policy guided only by their own (typically leftist and secular) sense of justice, it is refreshing to turn to Hand’s eloquent example of judicial restraint. He was a judge who recognized-and this point doubtless accounts for the enduring quality of his work-“that it is as craftsmen that we get our satisfactions and our pay.”
”Gregory J. Sullivan
The Prague Castle and its Treasures. By Prince Karl von Schwarzenberg et al.
Vendome Press (Rizzoli). 272 pp. $65.
With 250 full color illustrations, this unsparingly lavish volume is guaranteed to instill deep nostalgia in those who have lived in Prague and, for others, a determination to go there soon. The castle includes the Church of St. Vitus and other religious architecture of great interest. The pictures and the engaging commentaries remind us that Prague, still emerging from the madness of communism, was once a center of the high drama of world history and art. It is a sign of the blessed limitation on human madness that neither the Nazis nor the Communists destroyed the spiritual and aesthetic wonders to which this book bears witness.
Politics and Religion in Central and Eastern Europe . Edited by William H. Swados.
Praeger. 226 pp. $59.95.
Thirteen essays by Americans and Central Europeans on the history and current challenges of the religion/politics mix in formerly Communist societies. Of particular interest to specialists.
Letter to a Jewish Friend. By Gian Franco Svidercoschi.
Crossroad. 96 pp. $12.95
The story of the boyhood friendship between Karol (“Lolek”) Wojtyla and Jerzy (“Jurek”) Kluger in Wadowice, Poland, and how that friendship was reestablished many years later after the former had become Pope John Paul II. Kluger’s immediate family and many other Jews of Wadowice had meanwhile been killed in the Holocaust and, as is the case with many survivors, it was with painful reluctance that in 1989 he returned to the town that had once harbored a flourishing Jewish community. This little book is being widely distributed by the Anti-Defamation League to highlight the human dimension of a pontificate that, in accord with Vatican Council II, has forever changed the relationship between Jews and Catholics.
Christianity and Economics in the Post-Cold War Era . Edited by Herbert Schlossberg et al.
Eerdmans. 186 pp. $10.99 paper.
In 1990 an international group of mainly evangelical Protestant scholars gathered in Oxford, England, to issue “The Oxford Declaration” on Christian faith and economics. The current book includes essays reflecting on the declaration and its implications for the future.
Pastoral Care Under the Cross . By Richard C. Eyer.
Concordia. 155 pp. $12.99 paper.
The pastoral care director at Columbia Hospital in Milwaukee has written an admirably wise and accessible guide for chaplains, nurses, doctors, and social workers who care for the suffering, the terminally ill, and their families. Special attention is given AIDS patients and the mentally ill.
The Art and Architecture of Islam 1250-1800 . By Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom.
Yale University Press. 352 pp. $65.
Another gorgeous volume in Yale’s “Pelican History of Art” series. The focus is, of course, on mosques and palaces, and the authors helpfully illuminate the subtle differences that might escape the untrained eye that is struck by the sameness of Islamic architecture.
“I Come Away Stronger”: How Small Groups Are Shaping American Religion . Edited by Robert Wuthnow.
Eerdmans. 401 pp. $14.99 paper.
Fifteen essays describing and evaluating a wide range of experiences with small groups that understand themselves to be somehow involved in “the quest for spirituality.” Wuthnow of Princeton begins and ends the volume with his typically judicious manner of putting all things into perspective. He underscores the way in which, in a time of fascination with bigness in religion (e.g., the Protestant megachurch movement), small groups meet a need for intimacy and ongoing personal relationships.
Homosexuality in the Church: Both Sides of the Debate . Edited by Jeffrey S. Siker.
Westminster/John Knox. 211 pp. $14.99 paper.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and Richard B. Hays vs. James B. Nelson and Lisa Sowle Cahill, along with nine others. This is not really a debate, since contributors are not speaking to one another, but it does lay out some of the basic arguments on “both sides.” The book is unmistakably tilted toward the “inclusivist” view of the editor, who describes himself as “a repenting heterosexist.” (As in recovering alcoholic.)
Sex: The Catholic Experience . By Andrew Greeley.
Thomas More. 167 pp. $19.95
truisms with self-importance. This, for one of many examples, “Surely it is clear from the human sciences (of one of which I am a practitioner and hence may speak with authority) that it is natural for husband and wife to make love, one with another.” One has to feel sympathy for a someone who calls himself a “practitioner” of sociology, but it must be admitted that Greeley has an impressive array of data to back his argument that “Catholics have sex more often than other Americans, they are more playful in their sexual relationships, and they seem to enjoy their sexual experiences more.” Greeley makes no secret of his contempt for Catholic teaching on the need for conjugal love to be open to new life, and therefore, regrettably, does not even begin to enter into the specifically Christian argument for sexuality as the “gift of self.” He is very convinced, however, that God does want all “Her” children to have good sex, as Dr. Ruth used to say, and that “She” is therefore especially pleased with her Catholic children.
Beyond Naive Belief: The Bible and Adult Catholic Faith. By Paul E. Dinter.
Crossroad. 347 pp. $29.95
It would be easy, and in part justified, to dismiss this as but another in a long and dreary history of books excitedly proclaiming the discovery that heaven is not really “up,” God doesn’t have a long white beard, and, as the author says, “the Bible has a history.” While Dinter, an inactivated priest, is certainly not an orthodox Catholic, he is sometimes suggestive in his classically liberal probing of Catholic themes from a “postmodernist” perspective. The book could usefully induce some of the fallen away to reconsider the faith, which must be weighed against the at least equal possibility of its thoroughly confusing those who have not fallen away. The theologically literate will encounter no surprises.God’s purposes are revealed not only in the great events of history and public life, but also in the daily tasks and responsibilities of our ordinary work life. That truth, while not new, is illustrated vividly in a variety of contemporary contexts by the author, a Reform rabbi. Jewish and other sources are employed to show how work need not be separate from the religious and spiritual realm, that work can even provide occasions for the sanctifying of life within God’s larger plan and structure of meaning. Other topics dealt with include the hallowing effect of Sabbath observance, the corruption of a workaholic mentality, and the continuing relevance of rabbinic teaching to business ethics. (He quotes First Things contributor Alan Mittleman: “Judaism is a religion of the classroom, but it is also a religion of the marketplace, courts, and operating rooms.”) A popular, self-help style belies the book’s intellectual substance and depth.