The Mobilization of Shame: A World View of Human Rights .
By Robert F. Drinan, S.J.
Yale University Press. 194 pp. $24
Georgetown law professor Drinan fills a gap in the literature with this concise, readable survey of the evolution of human rights protection from the late 1940s to the present. He provides a clear summary of international human rights law for the general reader, including a wealth of detail on the manifold human rights operations of the UN, on U.S. human rights policies over the years, and on regional human rights tribunals in Europe and Latin America. The book falters, however, when it moves from description to analysis and evaluation. The author, for example, places a good deal of weight on undefined terms like “the international community,” and reposes many of his hopes for the future of human rights on ?the mobilization of shame? by nongovernmental and supranational organizations. But while the former Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts is sharply critical of U.S. human rights policy (especially as conducted by Republican Administrations), he shows less concern about UN agencies, and none at all about the financing, motives, and agendas of the very mixed bag of interest groups known as NGOs.
” Mary Ann Glendon
Faith, Reason, and Political Life Today .
Edited by Peter Augustine Lawler and Dale McConkey.
Lexington. 272 pp. $24
The essays contained in this volume cover a remarkable range of topics, from Aristotle and Solzhenitsyn to Leo Strauss, Flannery O’Connor, and even, in no less than two chapters, Star Trek . What unites them is the authors’ concern “all too uncommon among political theorists” with the moral and spiritual condition of mankind. Many of the authors take seriously Francis Fukuyama’s claim that, with the elimination of communism as a social and political possibility, human history has reached a sort of terminus. In our time, or so the argument runs, liberal democracy has attained such extraordinary power and widespread acceptance that it has come to be thought of as the only legitimate form of government. While the dawning of the universally democratic age promises many goods?among them, peace, economic prosperity, and political freedom for millions, if not billions, of human beings?it may not be altogether good. For the authors in this volume, as it was for Tocqueville and Nietzsche before them, a homogeneously democratic epoch would be one permeated by narcissistic self-satisfaction and moral degradation. Anyone troubled by these unintended byproducts of the democratic age and hoping to find resources with which to resist them will relish the serious and sober essays collected in this volume.
The Concept of Sin .
By Josef Pieper.
St. Augustine?s Press. 116 pp. $11 paper.
A new and marvelously readable translation, by Father Edward T. Oakes, S.J., of Pieper’s incisive investigation of the ever-pressing question of what is meant by “sin.” Building on but moving beyond psychological understandings of guilt, and excavating the reality of wrong “being that underlies our wrong” doing, Pieper brings the wisdom tradition of Plato, Augustine, and Aquinas into conversation with moderns, both Christian and anti-Christian, who try to make sense of sin and evil in the human condition. In his usual manner, Pieper pushes philosophical inquiry up to and sometimes a little over the edge of theology, but is always respectful of the indispensable part of revelation in attaining true wisdom. Once more St. Augustine’s Press of South Bend, Indiana, is to be commended for giving new currency to treasures of the Christian intellectual tradition.
Out of the Depths: The Story of Ludmila Javorova, Roman Catholic Priest .
By Miriam Therese Winter.
Crossroad. 258 pp. $19.95
Rogue ordinations of priests and consecrations of bishops are nothing new in Christian history, but with the breakaways to the Old Catholic Church following Vatican Council I in the nineteenth century, the phenomenon of episcopi vagantes (bishops on the loose) became a pronounced feature of an underworld of apostate Catholics and sectarian Anglicans. In the U.S. today there are dozens of lines of “apostolic succession” in which eccentric leaders with magnificent titles preside over tiny “Catholic” congregations in which almost everybody is a putative priest or bishop. The episcopi vagantes story took a peculiar twist during the years of Communist oppression in East-Central Europe, where in some countries much of the Church’s ministry operated underground. Out of the Depths is the story of a charismatic leader of the “Koinote” network of ministry in Czechoslovakia, Felix Davidek, who was consecrated a bishop under doubtful circumstances and who consecrated seventeen other bishops on his own between 1967 and 1987. He and they ordained an unknown number of priests, including the attempted ordination of at least seven women, of whom Ludmila Javorova is one. All this was done, of course, without the authority of Rome or the national episcopate, and after the collapse of communism the Church tried to straighten out the resulting confusions. Davidek and some of the other putative bishops had already died, but those men whom they had ordained and who were deemed qualified for the priesthood were “conditionally” ordained and their positions regularized under the hierarchy. Since the Catholic Church teaches that she is not authorized to ordain women, there was no question of recognizing the validity of the orders of the women involved. Ludmila Javorova now teaches religion in a grade school and considers herself to be faithful to the Church, although, in her intense loyalty to her friend and mentor, Felix Davidek, she also thinks of herself as a priest in “spirit” if not in “law.” Her reflections on the priesthood and the Christian life are frequently affecting, and she obviously has little sympathy for the Women?s Ordination Conference, the National Catholic Reporter , and others in the U.S. who have tried to use her peculiar circumstance in promoting the ordination of women. It would seem that the author of Out of the Depths intends this book to be an instrument serving that cause. In that connection, the book is of slight consequence since it is no more than an interesting footnote to the long and colorful history of episcopi vagantes . It is very much worth reading, however, as an account of one particularly curious aspect of a strange religious underworld created by Communist tyranny.
Hayek: A Biography .
By Alan Ebenstein.
St. Martin?s. 402 pp. $29.95
Best known for his classic defense of liberty and polemic against statism, The Road to Serfdom , Friedrich Hayek was deservedly honored by the Nobel Prize as one of the most influential economic and social thinkers of the twentieth century. This biography is mostly a cobbling together of facts and ideas, but what it lacks in literary grace is partially made up for in the author’s objectivity in evaluating the theories and personalities that shaped the “Austrian school” and its continuing impact, largely through the University of Chicago. Ebenstein attends to the strong streak of utopianism in Hayek?s belief that the free market, given effective legal guarantees for property and price fluctuations, would lead to universal prosperity and peace. Hayek died in 1992 at age ninety-three and at his Catholic funeral the priest said that he “had a continuous internal battle with the concept we call God.” On Ebenstein’s account, Hayek had slight interest in either the concept or the reality, but he may be wrong about that. On that subject, Hayek’s writings are atypically unclear.
Church Unity and the Papal Office .
Edited by Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson.
Eerdmans. 184 pp. $20
Coming out of a conference on John Paul II’s encyclical Ut Unum Sint that brought together many of the people you would most want to hear on this subject (Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy, J. A. DiNoia, Stephen Sykes, George Weigel, David Yeago, and the editors), this book provides an accurate picture of ecumenical thinking about the Petrine ministry”at least among Catholics, Lutherans, and Anglicans”at the beginning of the millennium. As for the prospect of “church unity,” it is fair to say that the book is stronger in good intentions than on proposals or expectations.
Same-Sex Matters: The Challenge of Homosexuality .
Edited by Christopher Wolfe.
Spence. 283 pp. $14 paper .
This is an important book. The essays by noted authorities address point by point the arguments advanced by the homosexual movement”moral, legal, historical, and medical. The tone is generally calm, urgent, caring, and non-polemical. There are few issues on which people who usually trust intuitive and traditional wisdom so often get cold feet in saying out loud what they believe to be true. Same-Sex Matters should stiffen spines, clear minds of cant, and contribute to moving beyond slogans toward civil argument.
Signs of Intelligence: Understanding Intelligent Design .
Edited by William A. Dembski and James M. Kushiner.
Brazos. 224 pp. $12.99 paper.
The editors and some of the contributors”e.g., Phillip E. Johnson, Nancy Pearcey, and Michael Behe”are familiar to the readers of these pages. In fourteen short essays this book succeeds admirably in pulling together in a welcoming form the many aspects of the “intelligent design” debate”scientific, cultural, theological, and educational. When people ask what all the fuss and excitement is about, send them to Signs of Intelligence .
Academic Freedom and Christian Scholarship .
By Anthony J. Diekema.
Eerdmans . 214 pp. $22
Of course nobody’s perfect, but among Christian institutions of higher education Calvin College in Grand Rapids has done a remarkable job of advancing both of the great goods in this book’s title. Diekema, former president of Calvin, enlivens his argument that these goods are friends and not enemies with accounts of controversies in his own experience as teacher and administrator.
A Desert in Bohemia .
By Jill Paton Walsh.
St. Martin?s. 332 pp. $23
A complex story simply told. In a Czech land called “Comenia” that could be Bohemia, first the Nazis and then the Russians impose terror and devastation, through which the author traces the fate of several families, including that of an aristocratic woman who both supported the Nazis and saved the lives of Jews. Some of the characters accept permanent exile in England, for others England is home, and for yet others there is, with the fall of communism, an irresistible desire to go back and build on the rubble. A Desert in Bohemia is a welcome addition to the growing literature on what happened to ordinary and not so ordinary people in the bloody second half of the twentieth century. Written as a novel, the book conveys a powerful sense of reality in the lives of people who are not sure what it was that they did and what it was that just happened to them.
Beyond Retribution: A New Testament Vision for Justice, Crime, and Punishment .
By Christopher D. Marshall.
Eerdmans. 301 pp. $24
A professor of New Testament in New Zealand provides a detailed and often intriguing argument for what is variously called redemptive, curative, or restorative justice. For better or worse, the elaborate investigation of, for instance, the connections between St. Paul’s teaching on justification and the criminal justice system will be totally inaccessible”and, if accessible, implausible”to anyone within hailing distance of policy discussions about crime and punishment. ‘Tis a pity, for it is a subject very much in need of moral and theological reflection.
The Gospel According to the New York Times .
By William Proctor.
Broadman & Holman. 308 pp. $14.99 paper.
The message behind the “culture creep” promoted by the Times is a “gospel,” says veteran reporter Proctor, because it is adhered to with religious-like devotion both in the editorial and news sections of that influential medium. The gospel is determinedly set against what the paper views as “deadly sins,” such as religious certainty, almost any kind of conservatism, the Second Amendment, and even the slightest challenge to the unlimited abortion license. Proctor amply and carefully documents his indictment, and the book will be of value to anyone who doubts his thesis. Others might think that he is at times belaboring the obvious. But then, it is the obvious that is too often ignored.
More Money, More Ministry .
Edited by Larry Eskridge and Mark Noll.
Eerdmans. 429 pp. $20
“They’re just in it for the money.” It is a criticism not uncommonly heard of the many entrepreneurs of the religious world broadly described as “evangelical Protestant.” And, of course, the criticism is true of some. But that obvious point is not nearly so interesting as the complexities explored in these essays that try to understand both the boosterism and conscientious uneasiness that mark the relationship between money and ministry. The book has stirred salutary debate and introspection among evangelicals.
The Holocaust: Never to be Forgotten .
Edited by Helga Croner et al.
Paulist. 94 pp. $9.95 paper.
A valuable set of reflections on the Holy See’s document We Remember by Avery Cardinal Dulles, Rabbi Leon Klenicki, and Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy. Klenicki effectively presents Jewish dissatisfactions with the document, Dulles places the document into the historical context of Jewish-Catholic relations, and Cassidy provides an insider’s view of how the document came about. This little book is an important addition to the vast literature on questions that will remain troubled and troubling.
Reconciling Faith and Reason: Apologists, Evangelists, and Theologians in a Divided Church .
By Thomas P. Rausch.
Liturgical Press. 134 pp. $14 paper.
A theologian of Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles sets forth in brief compass an overview of conflicts within American Catholicism, advocating a “common ground” approach to living together in a Church that is, he believes, stronger and healthier than such conflicts may suggest.