Making Sense of Society: The Ebook
We've released a new ebook at shop.catholicculture.org. It is a collection of my essays over the past six years on Catholic social teaching and the problems we face in orchestrating the social order. See Making Sense of Society.
Downloaded from our ebook sales site, the ZIP file contains all three ebook formats, MOBI (Kindle), EPUB (Nook, iPAD and other standard ereaders), PDF (virtually all computing devices). The ebook is also available from the Kindle and Nook stores.
Collecting essays which deal with social principles is no easy task. Is a “social” essay primarily concerned with the practical exigencies of organizing our common life together? Or is it primarily concerned with the nature and ends of the human person? Actually, of course, it is some of both.
Catholic social teaching occupies a sort of middle ground between a proper understanding of the human person on the one hand and prudential judgments about the best way to organize society on the other. Clearly the principles must guide the prudential judgments, but just as clearly the principles admit of a wide variety of legitimate solutions. These solutions depend on the conditions on the ground, the art of the possible, the variable values and emphases in different cultures and different times and places. But the fundamental truths about man remain unchanged.
Over the past ten years on CatholicCulture.org, I’ve written on a wide range of social topics, well over 200 relevant essays in all. In general, I have not tried to advocate for particular solutions to particular problems, about which good men and women can disagree, but rather to explain the moral principles within which the acceptable solutions must be selected or crafted. I have also written about the nature of the human person apart from any particular social issues whatsoever, though I have not included these more universal essays in this collection—in the interest of keeping the collection manageable.
In addition to keeping things manageable, I faced the question of how best to organize the forty-nine essays I ultimately selected for this volume. I could have tried to group them under various headings, but so many essays overlap that I finally decided simply to present them in chronological order. This causes two aspects of the essays to emerge more clearly: first, it shows a series of changing concerns, with different issues rising to the top over the years; second, it shows the evolution of my thought as I attempt to deal with similar issues more effectively and more completely over time.
So here we go: Collected essays on such things as the purpose of government, including its size and scope; the interaction among culture, social life, politics and religion; the role of the Church in the social order; the relationship between what are commonly called the “life” issues and the “social” issues; the somewhat odd set of social prejudices which characterize the modern secular West; the threat of Statism; the principles of Catholic social teaching, such as subsidiarity, solidarity and the universal destination of goods; the role of natural law; and an analysis of complex specific issues such as immigration, pro-life strategy, and moral voting.
It is my profound hope that these essays will shed light not only on the peculiar operations of my own mind, but on the timeless value of Catholic teaching. The goal here is very much the truth about man, which the Catholic Church is so very qualified by God to articulate, and how this truth alone can effectively guide our policies and practices in the social realm.
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