March 2001By David Arias Jr.
Common Truths: New Perspectives on Natural Law. Edited by Edward B. McLean. ISI [Intercollegiate Studies Institute] Books. 345 pages. $24.95.
Natural law thinking is making a comeback, and happily so. Observance of the natural law, which ultimately amounts to observance of Gods law for mankind, is necessary for the well-being of human society. In other words, man cannot be happy unless he and his neighbors are true to the law inscribed in their very nature. Man cannot be good unless he lives up to his nature and, in so doing, lives up to what God wills for him.
Among other things, the essays in Common Truths reflect on the nature of the natural law, the history of natural law theories, various themes in natural law thinking, and the praxis of natural law in the legal arena. Contributors include Robert George, Russell Hittinger, Alasdair MacIntyre, Ralph McInerny, Charles Rice, and Janet Smith.
The Wisdom of the Popes. Edited by Thomas Craughwell. St. Martins Press. 235 pages. $23.95.
The Wisdom of the Popes contains an impressive collection of papal teachings on more than 30 doctrinal and moral issues. Craughwell has managed to bring together in one volume statements from many of the Roman Pontiffs from St. Peter to John Paul II on perennial issues regarding faith and morals. These papal statements are organized topically and are frequently preceded by a helpful introduction situating them within their proper doctrinal and historical context. The issues addressed by the popes in this work include, but are not limited to, the Blessed Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Mass and its meaning, sacred Scripture, faith, charity, good works, the Primacy of the Pope, slavery, and the Nazis and the Holocaust. The texts Craughwell cites from Popes Pius XI and Pius XII refute any suggestion that these two Roman Pontiffs were anything less than heroic in their condemnation of Nazism and in their rescuing of victims from the Holocaust.
Science and Its Limit: The Natural Sciences in Christian Perspective. By Del Ratzsch. InterVarsity Press. 191 pages. $12.99.
What is the nature of empirical science? What can it investigate and where does its area of competence end? What is the proper place of empirical science within the Christian worldview? These are some of the fundamental philosophical questions that Ratzsch asks and begins to answer. His discussion of the nature and presuppositions of empirical science aids the believer in seeing that, given the truth of Christianity, genuine science can only help the Christian understand Gods creation better. In addition, Ratzsch argues that empirical science is, in principle, incapable of offering a genuine challenge to Christianity. Thus, anyone who pits science against theology misunderstands the nature and limitations of empirical science.
Fatherhood and Family: Reclaiming the Catholic Head of the Family for Our Lord Jesus Christ. Volume Three. Edited by Fr. Kenneth Novak. Angelus Press. 192 pages. $11.50.
This work brings together 16 solid essays originally published in Integrity, a Catholic periodical published from 1946-1955. These essays aim at encouraging Catholic men to reclaim their proper roles, rights, and duties in the family, society, and the Church. All men are called to be fathers, whether on the natural or the supernatural level. But the precise meaning of fatherhood has been obscured in our modern anti-Catholic, anti-hierarchical, and feminist milieu. Thus the importance of Fatherhood and the Family. The essays in this work delineate well the meaning of Catholic fatherhood and the duties of the Catholic father in various spheres of life. One wonders why they have not been published by a more mainstream press!