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PRESS RELEASE: My Battle Against Hitler

One of the Great Overlooked Dramas of the Nazi Era

“Better to be a beggar in freedom than to be forced into compromises against my conscience.”

 —Dietrich von Hildebrand

 My Battle Against Hitler (Image, Oct. 21, 2014), the memoirs and essays of Dietrich von Hildebrand published for the first time in English, offers a glimpse into the heart and mind of one of the 20th century’s most important Catholic thinkers and the Nazi’s public “enemy number one” in Vienna.

Von Hildebrand, a German-Catholic philosopher and theologian, was a vocal opponent of Hitler and Nazism from the onset of the political movement in the early 1920s.

Upon Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, von Hildebrand fled from Germany to Vienna, Austria so he could devote himself entirely to the intellectual and cultural battle against the Nazi ideology.

In Vienna, with the support of Austrian chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, he founded and edited the premiere German-language anti-Nazi weekly paper, Der Christliche Ständestaat (The Christian Corporative State). For this, he was sentenced to death in absentia by the Nazis.

“It is rare today that an important new story full of vivid detail should come to light from the already much-documented Nazi period,” notes John Henry Crosby, translator, compiler, and editor of My Battle Against Hitler.

“His story might well have been lost to us,” writes Crosby in a letter to readers, “were it not for a memoir, penned near the end of his life at the request of his wife, Alice von Hildebrand.”

“I am honored to present this book to a global audience,” writes Crosby, “first as one of the great overlooked dramas of the Nazi era, and second as a gripping story of one man’s readiness to risk everything to follow his conscience and stand in defiance of tyranny.”

Praise for My Battle Against Hitler
“At this moment in history, no memoir could be more timely than Dietrich von Hildebrand’s account of how and why he risked everything to witness against the spreading evil of National Socialism. With much of today’s world silent as Christians face increasing persecution, many good men and women are asking themselves what they can do.  This remarkable book will challenge and inspire them.”
—Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University and Former US Ambassador to the Holy See

“There is but one man who can stand with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, both in intellectual brilliance and in bravery toward the Nazis; that man is Dietrich von Hildebrand. I am privileged to strongly recommend this important book as a superb introduction to this great hero of the faith. May it spawn a new generation of devotees and champions of his extraordinary thought and life.”
—Eric Metaxas, New York Times bestselling author of Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy and Miracles

“Dietrich von Hildebrand, unlike so many European Christians of his time, was an early and vigorous critic of National Socialism; a man of brilliant intellect and articulate pen who spoke out forcefully against Nazi hatred of the Jews; a scholar who defended the Christian understanding of society and the human person at immense personal cost.  This wonderful collection of his writings acquaints us intimately with an extraordinary man of faith.  It’s mandatory reading for anyone interested in a fuller understanding of a profoundly important era.”
—Charles J Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia

About the Author
DIETRICH VON HILDEBRAND (1889–1977), born in Florence, was the son of renowned German sculptor Adolf von Hildebrand. A leading student of the philosophers Edmund Hus­serl and Max Scheler, he took up the “great questions”—about truth, freedom, conscience, community, love, beauty—with a freshness that allowed him to break new ground, espe­cially in ethics, but also in epistemology, social philosophy, and aesthetics. His conversion to Catholicism in 1914 was the decisive turning point of his life and the impetus for important religious works. His opposition to Hitler and Nazism was so outspoken that he was forced to flee Germany in 1933, and later across Europe, finally settling in New York City in 1940, where he taught at Fordham University until 1960. He was the author of dozens of books, both in Ger­man and English. He was a major forerunner of Vatican II through his seminal writings on marriage, on Christian philosophy, and on the evil of anti-Semitism.

JOHN HENRY CROSBY (b. 1978), is a translator, writer, musician, and cultural entrepreneur. He is founder and director of the Hildebrand Project, which fosters deep cultural renewal through publications, events, fellowships, and online resources that draw on the continuing vitality of Dietrich von Hildebrand’s thought and witness.

 

To request a review copy or to schedule an interview with John Henry Crosby, please contact Katie Moore, publicist, kamoore@penguinrandomhouse.com, 719-268-1936.

 


INTERVIEW: Scott Hahn

Q&A with Scott Hahn

author of

Joy to the World

on-sale 10/28/2014

 

 

 

Q. In the 20+ years that you’ve been writing books, this is the first one that focuses entirely on the Christmas story. What inspired you to write about this topic? Why now?

Christmas arrives with a powerful effect on small children and on older folks. In between childhood and grandparenthood, we can temporarily lose our capacity for wonder. But maybe the second wave is hitting me now, as I’m experiencing Christmas with my grandchildren as they grow. Going back to the story in recent years, I’ve discovered complexities, convergences, and moments of stunning beauty, which I had not appreciated before. I’m not the first one to notice these things. In fact, I’m learning from the early Fathers and the most recent scholars. But I can’t help but want to share them with everyone—everyone who’s celebrating Christmas.

Q. In Joy to the World, you write “The events of Christmas challenge us, just as they challenged the original characters—the family—whose history they tell.” What do you see as the biggest challenge of Christmas?

To welcome Jesus. That’s always the challenge. We think our lives are full, and we don’t really trust him to come in and mess with our plans. Even after all these thousands of years, we hang a “no vacancy” sign at the inn.

We’ve built a culture on the illusion of control, and Christ is a threat to that illusion. Maybe that’s why he came as a little baby. In my own experience, however, it’s been my babies—my children—who taught me what little control I really have.

If we’re open to life, if we’re open to Christ, we come to trust God’s providential plan. That’s a lesson of the Christmas story. Just ask Zechariah. Just ask Joseph.

Stepping out in trust is scary, and the Christmas story confirms that at every turn. But what’s the alternative? To cling to the illusion of control, just because it’s our familiar illusion? Herod is the Christmas character most like our modern-day control freaks; and his life is completely out of control. Joseph, on the other hand, entrusts himself to the angels and goes from one trial to another. Yet today we can see Joseph’s life as heroic and true, and Herod’s as just plain crazy.

Q. How did you come up with the title Joy to the World?

I’ve been thinking a lot about joy—ever since Pope Benedict declared the Year of Saint Paul. I remember I was in Jerusalem that summer and reading the Letter to the Philippians, and I was overwhelmed by his exhortation to joy. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). Go read that letter and count the number of times you see the words “joy” and “rejoice.” Well, Paul’s words took hold of me and wouldn’t let go. Now we have a pope, our beloved Pope Francis, who speaks to us of the “Joy of the Gospel.”

Joy is a quality that belongs to Christmas. We sing it in our Christmas carols because in Christmas we celebrate the reason for Paul’s rejoicing: the advent of the Messiah, the salvation of the whole world. We have good reasons to celebrate. We have good reasons for our joy.

Q. What is your favorite part of the Christmas story?

It depends on the day you ask me. Today I’m caught up in thinking about the angels, and how different they appear after the advent of our savior. In the Old Testament, they are frightening and intimidating to human beings. Think of the Prophet Daniel, who falls on his face in dumbstruck fear. In the Christmas story, however, they appear as guides and companions. Jesus changes everything in the order of the universe. He changes the way heaven relates to earth and the way people relate to angels. I marvel as I consider what else has been changed so profoundly—what else have I missed?

 


PRESS RELEASE: Pope Francis Extends an Invitation to a Life of Joy

This Special Edition of The Joy of the Gospel Includes a Foreword by Father Robert Barron and an Afterword by Father James Martin, SJ

“The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus… In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.”
– Pope Francis

 In his apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium), Pope Francis extends an invitation to let the joy of faith back into our lives, an invitation to a “renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ.”

This beautifully designed hardcover edition of The Joy of the Gospel (Image, Oct. 7, 2014) includes both a foreword by Father Robert Barron, popular author of the bestselling book and series Catholicism, and an afterword by bestselling author Jesuit Father James Martin.

“It would be foolish to try to summarize this masterpiece of theological and ecclesial thinking,” writes Father Martin in the afterword. “Instead, let me focus on those first few important words, which give this letter to the Church its theme.”

“Pope Francis wants us to understand that the Gospel brings us joy,” continues Father Martin. “His exhortation tells us this.”

In the introduction to The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis remarks “there are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.”

Although he is quick to point out the many challenges to the faith, Pope Francis’ primary focus throughout his teaching is the theme of joy.

“I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty,” writes Pope Francis. “Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved.”

Another important theme expressed throughout the exhortation is the mission of the Church to evangelize.  Father Barron writes about this point in the foreword.

“When we find something that is good or beautiful or compelling —whether it is a movie, a work of art, a book, or a person —we don’t keep it to ourselves,” writes Father Barron.

“This principle applies, par excellence, to our experience of Christ Jesus risen from the dead. We want, with a reckless abandon, to give this supremely good news away,” adds Father Barron. “This energy, this compulsion—“woe to me if I do not evangelize”—is, for Pope Francis, the beating heart of the Church.”

In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis explores additional themes that are important for Catholics around the world, including:

A)     the reform of the Church in her missionary outreach;

B)     the temptations faced by pastoral workers;

C)     the Church, understood as the entire People of God which evangelizes;

D)     the homily and its preparation;

E)      the inclusion of the poor in society;

F)      peace and dialogue within society;

G)     the spiritual motivations for mission.

 

POPE FRANCIS is the first Latin American to be elected to the chair of Peter. A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he was ordained as a priest in 1969. He served as head of the Society of Jesus in Argentina from 1973 to 1979. In 1998 he became the archbishop of Buenos Aires, and in 2001 a cardinal. Following the resignation of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, on February 28, 2013, the conclave elected Bergoglio, who chose the papal name Francis in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi.

For press inquiries please contact Katie Moore, publicist, kamoore@penguinrandomhouse.com, 719-268-1936.


INTERVIEW: BROTHER GUY CONSOLMAGNO and FATHER PAUL R. MUELLER

Q&A with Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ

and Father Paul Mueller, SJ

authors of

Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?

…and Other Questions from the Astronomers’ In-box at the Vatican Observatory

 

How did you come up with the concept for this book?

Guy: We really only came to understand, ourselves, what this book was all about by actually writing it.

Paul: Guy and I found ourselves talking a lot, over the last few years, about the peculiar frustration we’d been feeling with the kinds of questions that we get asked here at the Vatican Observatory – questions that people send by e-mail, or ask us when we give public talks. For Guy, that frustration was a long-term thing, since he’s been at the Observatory for 18 years. For me it was a new thing, since I arrived at the Observatory just four years ago, in 2010.

Guy: Some of the questions we kept being asked seemed to be a little “off”. At first, I was tempted to just dismiss them. (Baptizing aliens? Oh, come on…)

Paul: Don’t get us wrong — we’re delighted that people are interested in the Observatory and its work, and we think it’s great that people want to ask us important questions about science and faith. But more often than not, the questions that we get seem to presuppose that there’s some sort of opposition between science and faith. The questions are often posed in such a way that we can’t give an answer without “taking sides” between science and faith. But Guy and I have no interest in “taking sides” — from our perspective, there is no opposition or inconsistency between science and faith.

And so our dilemma was this: If we gave answers to the questions, we’d end up seeming to take sides.  And if we didn’t give answers to the questions, we’d be ignoring earnest inquiries from well-intentioned people. We didn’t want to do either of those things. But what to do instead?

Guy: The fact that people kept asking such questions made me realize that there must be something serious and real behind them… if only I could put my finger on what that was. Maybe those questions had hidden assumptions that weren’t quite right. But how could we tease out those assumptions?

Paul: Gradually we realized that the way for us to respond was to start out with the questions that people were asking us. But instead of trying to give answers, we should first try to sharpen and deepen those questions.  If we could bring to light some of the assumptions and presuppositions hidden behind the question, then maybe we’d be able to re-pose the questions in a better way.  Maybe we’d be able to come up with similar-but-different questions which wouldn’t so much demand an answer as invite people to ponder and to go deeper.

 

What made you decide to write it as a dialogue?

Paul: Writing the book in dialogue form, as a conversation, left us free to consider questions from various angles, in an informal way.

Guy: At first we tried to smooth it all out into one narrative, but that just drained the life out of what we were saying. Finally, we realized we were speaking in two different voices, we were each telling stories based on our own personal histories.

Paul: And the dialogue format meant that Guy and I would not have to agree with each other all the time!

That format also helped free me up from writing too much like a philosopher; in dialogue with Guy, I’m able to write more like a regular person, I think.

Guy: In fact, we finally realized that dialogue itself was what the book was all about. The thing all writers are told is to “show, not tell.”  By writing in dialogue form, we could show how science and religion live together, by showing how the two of us live with our own science and religion.

 

What is one of the strangest questions you’ve been asked during your careers at the Vatican Observatory —one that didn’t make it onto the pages of this book?

Paul: Once when I was getting a haircut here in Italy, the barber asked me whether the Pope talks with aliens at the Observatory! But you know, lots of strange questions come up in barbershops.

Guy: Someone wanted to know if I was really in touch with aliens. When I told him I was not, he replied, “Ha! I knew you wouldn’t tell me the truth!”

What’s sad are all the people like him who don’t ask questions but who are sure they already know the answers. Unfortunately, the more certain they are, the more likely it’s nonsense. Over the years, some people have e-mailed me offering long, detailed proofs that everything we know about religion is wrong, or everything we know about science is wrong. Others have sent me detailed descriptions of their own interactions with aliens.  I really feel for those people; they are in need of the sort of help that no one can give them over the internet.

By contrast, I’ve come to realize that no question is really strange, when it’s being asked in a spirit of inquiry which is truly open. If people really want to know something, and they’re open to being surprised, then their curiosity is always legitimate. A number of questions that people have asked us – and the answers we gave them – have wound up in this book.

 

Each of the six conversations in the book is portrayed as taking place in a different physical setting…five real and one fictional. How did you decide on these settings?

Guy: That was Paul’s idea, actually. I was skeptical, until I saw how well it worked. In fact, it worked so well that we had to add caveats through the book to remind people that it’s a portrayal, a conceit, a fiction; we didn’t actually travel to Antarctica or the Restaurant at the End of the Universe!

Paul: Once we decided to make use of specific settings, the various locations just popped up for us spontaneously. For talking about Pluto, there’s no place on earth more appropriate than Antarctica – especially since Guy has spent time there. For talking about the end of the Universe, it was obvious to me that we had to be dining at the fictional Restaurant at the End of the Universe, from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – a book which, in its own cynical way, does a wonderful job of uncovering some of the presuppositions and assumptions hidden behind questions that people like to ask.

 

What was your initial reaction when Pope Francis discussed the possibility of baptizing Martians in a homily in May of 2014?  

Guy: I had to laugh. I knew what he was driving at, of course; but I also knew how some people would immediately take it in the wrong direction, as if he were saying we should actually be baptizing Martians. Sure enough, pretty soon there were all sorts of rumors on the internet that a Papal announcement about aliens was imminent!

Paul: Of course that was not the Pope’s intention. His main topic was the controversy in early Christianity, as to whether people had to become Jews first before they could be baptized as Christians. The early Christians ultimately came to realize that the message of Christ is universal – it is open to all people, not just to the Jews. So the point that Pope Francis was making was mainly about the universality of the Christian message, not about Martians.  He was using the question about baptizing Martians to illustrate how difficult and strange the question of the universality of the Christian faith was for the early Church.

Guy: And by the way, despite its title, our book is not mainly about extraterrestrials, either. It is mainly about us humans, and how we view ourselves in this universe.

 

What is the coolest part of your job?

Paul: I get to live and work with a bunch of working scientists. My field is history and philosophy of science. But living here at the Vatican Observatory, on a daily basis I get pulled up short by being challenged to see and hear how things look from perspective of working scientists. That’s a good corrective for me in my own work and research. It helps keep me focused on questions that matter in the real world of science, instead of on questions that matter only to philosophers. I like that!

Another cool thing is that the scientists with whom I live and work are all people of faith – people for whom faith and science coexist without conflict and without difficulty. I like that, too!

Guy: For me… it’s that I get to handle meteorites on a daily basis. I get to hold in my hand, rocks that have been around since the beginning of the solar system, four and a half billion years ago; rocks that have been in outer space!

 

Where is the best place to get a cappuccino in the Vatican?

Paul: The most congenial place for a cappuccino is the coffee room of the Vatican Observatory!

Guy: We have our own full-up industrial strength cappuccino machine here at the Observatory. All astronomy runs on coffee; especially in Italy.

Paul: Every morning at 10AM all the Jesuits and lay staff members of the Observatory come together for 15 minutes of caffeinated conversation. During my first year at the Observatory, the 10AM coffee time was a struggle for me — my Italian was not yet to the point that I could take part in the conversation. But now I look forward to coffee time every day.

Guy: The Observatory is actually located an hour outside of Rome, in the papal summer gardens at Castel Gandolfo. So we don’t actually get cappuccino in the Vatican itself. That said, I do like the coffee shop in the Vatican museums; it’s right near the Pinacoteca, which is the most underrated part of the Vatican Museums and which has some wonderful old paintings of astronomical objects from the 1700s.

To request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ or Father Paul R. Mueller, SJ  please contact Katie Moore, publicist, kamoore@penguinrandomhouse.com, 719-268-1936.



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