Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Fortnight for Freedom Reading Essentials: Books About Religious Freedom

The USCCB has issued a call for a Fortnight for Freedom in celebration of the many rights that American citizens enjoy and to patriotically pray for our nation and the current challenges facing religious freedoms in the US. As part of that effort, we’ve assembled this list of books on the subjects of religious freedom and faith and politics from some of the most respected Catholic voices in America.


$20.00 Hardcover edition

Born out of a speech celebrating the 1,700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, in which emperors Constantine I and Licinius granted Christians legal rights, this book by Cardinal Angelo Scola gives attention to the crisis of religious freedom in the twenty-first century. Let’s Not Forget God outlines how Christianity has been at the center of creating a pluralistic society, from the Roman Empire in 313 to the American Revolution in 1776. This bold vision of freedom brings religion into the realm of public debate without allowing the state to banish or control it.

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eBook Exclusives: The following titles are important messages from prominent Catholic leaders and are available only as eBooks at a very low price:

True Freedom by Timothy Dolan

99 Cent eBook Original

Are American liberties on the endangered species list? In this eBook original, the Archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issues a plea for all citizens to reject the cynicism of the day and foster a culture in which religious freedom and all human life are infinitely valued.

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A Heart on Fire Charles J. Chaput

99 Cent eBook Original

In this eBook original, Charles J. Chaput, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, offers a powerful manifesto on the need for Americans to protect religious freedom. By thoughtfully interpreting and applying Catholic values to this confusing moment in history, he provides hope for an American audience hungry for courage and counsel.

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Proclaim Liberty by Carl Anderson$2.99 eBook Original
In this ebook, comprised of three talks Carl Anderson gave between April and August 2012, the author argues that all people of faith ought to approach politics in an effort to transform the divisiveness and hostility in today’s political arena into a society in which every person is respected and valued—a society that Pope John Paul II has called a “Civilization of Love.”

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Available in Print and eBook Formats:

On Heaven and Earth by Pope Francis A conversation between Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, and prominent Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka that brings remarkable insight to subjects such as politics, abortion, religious freedom, and the intersection of faith and the public arena.

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Why Catholicism Matters by Bill Donohue

One of the most visible representatives of the Catholic Church in the United States shows how the Church is far from being an ossified carry-over tradition from antiquity. Why Catholicism Matters celebrates the significant contribution the Church makes in many aspects of today’s world and applies its wisdom to issues on a personal, national, and global scale.

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God in Action by Cardinal George

In this bracing manifesto, His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, one of the leading Catholic intellectuals in America today, provides refreshing insight into the intersection of faith and the public sphere. Finding both challenges and reasons for hope, he lays out a vision for national life that respects natural law, human dignity, and the essential ways religion uniquely contributes to the common good.

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Render Unto Caesar by Charles ChaputFew topics in recent years have ignited as much public debate as the balance between religion and politics. Does religious thought have any place in political discourse? Do religious believers have the right to turn their values into political action? What does it truly mean to have a separation of church and state? The very heart of these important questions is here addressed by one of the leading voices on the topic, Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia.

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A People of Hope by John AllenOne of the world’s most respected religion journalists profiles New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, one of the country’s—and possibly the world’s—most important Catholic leaders through lengthy exclusive interviews. Hear Dolan’s thoughts on many issues including religious freedom and political involvement.

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Beyond a House Divided by Carl AndersonFrom health care, to the role of religion in America, to abortion, to the importance of traditional ethics in business and society, Anderson uses fresh polling data and keen insight in Beyond a House Divided to show that a surprising consensus has emerged despite these debates. He sheds light on what’s been missing in the public and political debates of the last several years: the consensus that isn’t hard to find if you know where to look.

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The Right to be Wrong by Kevin HassonIn the running debate we call the “culture wars,” there exists a great feud over religious diversity. One side demands that only their true religion be allowed in the public square; the other insists that no religions ever belong there. The Right to Be Wrong offers a solution, drawing its lessons from a series of stories–both contemporary and historical–that illustrates the struggle to define religious freedom.

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Archbishop Reflects on the Long Travail of Religious Freedom

“For anyone concerned with religion and the common good, Let’s Not Forget God by Cardinal Angelo Scola is a must-read.”– John L. Allen, Jr., associate editor of The Boston Globe and author of The Global War on Christians

What does one of the most influential leaders of the Catholic Church have to say about the subject of religious freedom?

In Let’s Not Forget God (Image, June 3, 2014), Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, tackles this very important issue and reflects on how it has affected all aspects of common life, from religion to politics and economics.

Born out of a speech celebrating the 1,700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, Let’s Not Forget God demonstrates how these centuries-old debates have contributed to the development of Western societies from the Roman Empire in 313 to the American Revolution in 1776.

“Simply reviewing the major events of the seventeen centuries between the Edict of Milan and the present day should allow one to grasp the grave contradictions connected to the practice, and even to the conception, of religious freedom,” Scola writes.

In Let’s Not Forget God, Scola relates theology to everyday life, giving attention to how religious freedom has affected the development of democracy in Western societies and specifically addresses the historical view of religious freedom in the United States in light of the contemporary case of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate.

“In the project of elaborating a new vision of religious freedom, Americans will be interested to know, Scola believes our legal and philosophical tradition is better positioned to lead the way than Europe’s,” notes John L. Allen, Jr., associate editor of The Boston Globe and author of The Global War on Christians, in the forward to Let’s Not Forget God.

“Scola continues to be among the most interesting and influential churchmen on the global stage,” writes Allen. “What this short book offers, therefore, is insight into how a true Catholic heavyweight approaches the Church’s most consequential political concern today, which is religious freedom.”

The story behind the book:

“This book came about through the preparation of the speech that for many years the archbishop of Milan has addressed to the city on the occasion of the feast of Saint Ambrose. The idea of this annual speech dates back to the deceased cardinal archbishop of Milan Blessed Ildefonso Schuster, but it began to take on greater importance with Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini (archbishop of Milan and later Pope Paul VI) and in a particular way with Cardinal Giovanni Colombo. Why a speech from the bishop of Milan on this occasion? The reason is clear. Saint Am- brose is the city’s patron. Before being elected bishop of Milan he was a statesman, and he maintained this sensibility as a bishop, while obviously reshaping it to fit his new responsibilities as pastor. On the occasion of his feast and in light of his legacy, the bishop of Milan offers to all citizens a few reflections of a general nature on aspects of public life. The theme for my presentation in the Basilica of Saint Ambrose during vespers on December 6, 2012, was, in a certain sense, compulsory. This year marks the celebration of the 1,700-year anniversary of the Edict of Milan. However one may wish to interpret the edict, it is beyond doubt that 2013 provides a special opportunity for exploring the topic of religious freedom. Its relevance is plain. Just as evident is its complexity.” – Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan

About the Author

ANGELO SCOLA is a Cardinal of the Catholic Church, a philosopher, and a theologian. He was appointed Archbishop of Milan, Italy, by Pope Benedict XVI on June 28, 2011. Previously, he served as Patriarch of Venice and was elevated to the cardinalate in 2003.

To request a review copy, contact Katie Moore, publicist, at, 719-268-1936.


INTERVIEW: Joseph Bottum discusses An Anxious Age

 Q. How did you come up with the idea for An Anxious Age?

In some ways, An Anxious Age really began when I was sent out to report on the protesters at Occupy Wall Street—and couldn’t finish the assignment. I could feel a spiritual anxiety about modern civilization radiating from nearly all of them, but I could find no easy way to explain it.
Now, two years later, this book is my answer: Not just those protesters but nearly everyone today is driven by supernatural concerns, however much or little they realize it. Radicals and traditionalists, liberals and conservatives—together with politicians, artists, environmentalists, followers of food fads, and the chattering classes of television commentators: America is filled with people frantically seeking confirmation of their own essential goodness. We are a nation of individuals desperate to stand on the side of morality—anxious to know that we are righteous and dwell in the light.
The trouble, of course, is that we’ve lost any shared cultural notion of what exactly that goodness might entail.

Q. The crux of the book is your claim that the most significant and under-appreciated fact about all of contemporary America is the collapse of the Mainline Protestant churches over the last fifty years. That’s a pretty bold claim. How did you come to view the decline of Mainline Protestantism as such an influential factor in the shaping of America’s cultural landscape?

The reasons for the Mainline churches’ decline are interesting in themselves. Science, capitalism, liberal Protestant religion, the bureaucratic needs of rising nation states—all those changes that Max Weber called the “elective affinities” that created the modern world—resulted in a pretty thin metaphysical order. By the late 1800s, most educated Americans probably had no strong belief in any supernatural entities beyond the bare Christian minimum of the individual soul, below, and God, above.
Maybe as a result, a hunger for a thicker world, for a supernatural infusion, is written across America in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—from the table-rapping ghosts heard by spiritualists in the 1840s to the popularizing of the Ouija board in the 1910s, and on to our own time. Denied much sustenance in the central rooms of American religion, this spiritual hunger would eventually drain the Mainline churches down to their present cultural weakness.
And here’s where it really starts to get interesting. Because American history has led us to expect our national spirituality to be explicitly religious, tied to the nation’s churches, we often fail to recognize other effects as spiritual. But strange beings were set free to enter the social and political realms by the decay of the churches that were once a primary source of the cultural unity and social manners that we now lack in the United States.
I’ve gone back more than a century to Max Weber’s classic sociological study The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism to resurrect the notion of “spiritual anxiety”—in an effort to explain what escaped into the public life with the collapse of Mainline Protestantism. What once were religious concerns have fled the churches to become political and social agitations. And across the nation, in liberals and conservatives alike, there lurks a disturbing sense that how we vote is how our souls are saved.
Our dangerous spiritual anxieties, in other words, have broken loose from the churches that used to contain them, and they now madden everything in American life. These new supernatural entities—or, at least, these new social and political manifestations of the enduring human desire to perceive something supernatural in the world—seem to me omnipresent. Think of our willingness to believe that our political opponents are not just wrong but actually evil. Think of the ways we talk about food, weight, and cigarettes, the way we use such concepts as gender, race, and the environment.
In politics, culture, art—in everything, spirits and demons, angels and demigods, flitter through American public life, ferrying back and forth across our social and political interactions the burdens of our spiritual anxieties.

Q. In An Anxious Age you take up two case studies of contemporary American social classes. The first being “The Poster Children,” the college-educated members of the upper-middle-class, many of whom reject Christian belief. The second being “The Swallows of Capistrano,” the Catholics formed by the pontificate of John Paul II. How did you land on these two groups?

When the marvelous publisher Image Books and I first discussed writing something about the public face of American religion, the idea was a simple one: Catholicism in the United States had been on the rise since the late 1970s, both in numbers and influence. And it was planned that I would write about how Catholicism was replacing the dying Mainline Protestant vocabulary for speaking about morality in political settings.
I still think that’s more or less true. For a Catholic with any kind of historical memory, there’s something astonishing about reading a discussion of Just War Theory in, say, the New York Times—or hearing the figures on FOX News arguing about Natural Law. In an essentially Protestant nation, as the United States had always been, such forms of ethical and social analysis always used to be thought something eccentric that Catholics do.
But as I worked my way through the topic, I began to see political and cultural consequences beyond simply a rush to fill the public vacuum left by the Mainline’s collapse (a vacuum drawing in Catholics on one side and Evangelicals on the other side, the two main Christian groups traditionally pushed to the margins by the old liberal Protestant consensus).
What I saw was the rise, over the last fifty years, of a new class of post-Protestants—re-creating the bourgeois social attitudes of previous generations, however much they believe they have uniquely escaped the past. In both the noble range and the insufferable self-righteousness of their moral and spiritual concerns, the members of the elite Poster Children social class define and set the agenda for American culture—and they prove identical to their middle-class Mainline Protestant Christian grandparents, just without much of their grandparents’ Christian religion.
At the same time, I saw the influence of Mainline collapse on what I call “The Swallows of Capistrano,” the American Catholics formed by the papacy of John Paul II. Watching from the inside of many of the public fights, I observed the personal and cultural effect on these Catholics of the early victories—and later defeats—in the attempt to substitute Catholicism for the dying Mainline voice in public life. And now, I conclude in An Anxious Age, these Catholics will have to find ways to develop their own subculture, for they have lost to the Poster Children the battle to become a dominant American social force.

Q. Did you learn anything surprising while working on An Anxious Age?

I wanted William James or Ralph Waldo Emerson or even Louisa May Alcott to be the heroes of the story as I made my way through American intellectual and cultural history. But as I read the work of Walter Rauschenbusch, chief figure of the Social Gospel movement at the beginning of the 20th century, and the social critic Christopher Lasch toward the century’s end (both, it should be noted, longtime professors at the University of Rochester), I came more and more to see that the story of American religion wasn’t based in Boston. It happened, in truth, in Upstate New York—from the Mormons to the Oneida Community, from the growth of revivalism to the rage for spiritualism.
In other words, I sat down intending to write an account of the major features of American Protestantism centered around the Puritans and their Bostonian descendents. But when it came time to name my claim that no moment in American history is intelligible without understanding the condition of American Protestantism, I saw that I had to call it “the Erie Canal Thesis,” for much—maybe most—of that Protestant history actually happened somewhere near the old canal in Upstate New York.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish with the book? What do you hope readers will glean from it?

I hope that An Anxious Age will remind the social groups I called the post-Protestant Poster Children and the Catholic Swallows of Capistrano—will remind, in fact, all Americans—that we are not as far from the traditional forms of American history as we sometimes imagine ourselves. Spiritual concerns still motivate us, and our historical situation is still set by the condition of American Protestantism at any given moment.
More, I would like readers to see that Max Weber’s kind of sociological awareness of spiritual causes gives a fuller account of human culture than Karl Marx’s hard materialism. Purely material causes (economics, geography, even genetics, as some argue) undoubtedly have strong effects, but the spiritual anxieties of an age, together with the available spiritual rewards, have at least as much influence—and probably more—on the political, moral, and intellectual culture of a society.


 To schedule an interview with Joseph Bottum, please contact Katie Moore, publicist,, 719-268-1936.

INTERVIEW: Author Edward Sri talks about Walking with Mary

Q. You’ve written other books about Mary. How is Walking with Mary different?

I’ve been blessed to teach on Catholic beliefs and practices about Mary and do much research on the Biblical texts that shed light on Mary’s role in God’s plan of salvation. But this book explores more what Scripture may tell us about Mary’s own personal, spiritual journey…her own interior life.  The book considers, for example, what was it like for Mary to hear from the angel that she was full of grace, that the Lord was with her and that she was to become the mother of Israel’s great king—what would those words from the angel have meant for her as a first century Jewish woman?  Or what would Mary have been going through in the dramatic events surrounding her son’s birth? And what did it mean that she “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart”?

I invite readers to enter into the Biblical narratives and enter into Mary’s experience in those texts, considering what the Scriptures may tell us about Mary’s walk with God. Though there are not a lot of New Testament passages in which Mary appears, those texts are packed with meaning and can serve as windows into what God was asking of Mary at various moments throughout her life and into how Mary’s response at each step can serve as a model for us in our relationship with the Lord.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish with this book?

In this book, I hope to help readers know Mary and her spiritual journey better. 

Many of us may know that Mary, as the mother of Jesus, was an important person in the Bible. And Catholics especially may know Mary as the Immaculate Conception, the Ever-Virgin Mother of God and the Queen of Heaven and Earth.  But do we know the humanness of Mary?  Mary was a woman with whom we can all relate.  She went through various trials, dangers and sufferings, like we do. She faced moments of discernment, like we do. She experienced times of uncertainty and darkness—times when she did not understand. Though she was endowed with unique graces and privileges, Mary still had to “walk by faith and not by sight.”

Mary had to make a profound spiritual journey, in which she took ever greater steps of faith, trust and surrender to God’s plan.  She stands out as a model of faith in the Scriptures, and I aim to take readers through the various steps of faith Mary made from her initial calling at the Annunciation to her standing at the foot of her Son’s cross.

Q. Who is the target audience?

When writing it, I envisioned anyone who wants to take a closer look at the person of Mary, to know her better and to understand the beautiful journey of faith the Lord invited her to take throughout her life.  This book is meant to be a highly accessible book –easy to read, engaging and filled with practical insight for our lives. I hope any Christian who wants to walk in Mary’s footsteps as a faithful disciple of the Lord will benefit from this book.

Q. At the beginning of the book you ask the reader to put themselves in Mary’s shoes. Was this difficult for you as a man in the 21st century?

Entering into the experience of the heroes of the Bible or the saints throughout history is something we all should do.  The stories of the saints—whether they be men or women saints—tell us all something about our own humanity, our own challenges and struggles in life and our own walk with the Lord.  I think I have been able to enter into the experiences of women saints such as St. Catherine of Siena, St. Therese of Lisieux and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and learn much from them.   And the same is true with Mary. 

Q. Besides reading the Bible, particularly the Gospels of John and Luke, what other research did you do to prepare for writing this book?

I have been doing research on the Biblical passages related to Mary for many years going all the way back to my doctoral studies.  Biblical scholarship in recent decades has offered many great insights on these passages, and many of these insights can help shed light on Mary.  In the book I draw from Biblical scholars of a variety of perspectives and faith traditions.  I refer to saints, scholars and texts from the Catholic tradition, but I also have learned much from many non-Catholics whose exegesis on Marian passages or reflections on Mary can make a significant contribution to our understanding of the mother of Jesus.


To schedule an interview with Dr. Sri, please contact Katie Moore, publicist,, 719-268-1936.


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