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A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World Hardcover – March 25, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


“A bracing call to a new American revolution: a revolution of virtue. Give this book to friends who say there’s nothing to be done to heal a wounded culture.” (GEORGE WEIGEL, distinguished senior fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center)

“Few elements of Catholic social teaching have been more forcefully stated, or more regularly ignored, than our calling to bring Christian teachings to bear on social, political, and economic issues. Anderson seeks to bring that message home.” (MARY ANN GLENDON, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University)

“Anderson artfully weaves theory and practice, giving us a rare specimen indeed: a practical guide for idealists.” (JOHN L. ALLEN JR., senior correspondent, National Catholic Reporter)

“Anderson has written a book brimming with insights into the transforming power of Christian faith. A Civilization of Love is both a call to personal holiness and a handbook for Catholics who are prepared to take seriously Christ’s command to his disciples to be ‘salt and light’ in the world.” (ROBERT P. GEORGE, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University)

By embracing the culture of life and standing with those most marginalized . . . Christians can change the tone and direction of our culture. Anderson demonstrates that we can come together on the centrality of loving and caring for others (San Francisco Examiner)

About the Author

As Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson is the leader of the world's largest fraternal organization of Catholic laymen. Named by Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II to several Vatican commissions, Anderson is a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and the Pontifical Academy for Life, and is a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; First Edition edition (March 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061335312
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061335310
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #518,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carl Anderson is the New York Times bestselling author of "A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World," and - with Msgr. Eduardo Chavez - of "Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love." He is the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, the world's largest lay Catholic organization and also serves on a number of Vatican committees.

Previously, Mr. Anderson held several positions in the White House, including special assistant to the President and acting director of the White House Office of Public Liaison. He also served for nearly a decade as a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Patrice Fagnant-macarthur VINE VOICE on March 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Is it possible for our Catholic faith to transform our increasingly secular culture? Carl Anderson answers that question with a resounding "Yes!" in his new book "A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World." Anderson is the leader of the Knights of Columbus, the world's largest Catholic fraternal group. He has worked closely with both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI and has served on several Vatican committees. In "A Civilization of Love," he relies heavily on the teachings of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, especially the theology of the body and Pope Benedict's recent encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love).

Anderson begins with St. Paul's visit to Athens between 50 - 58 AD to illustrate how one person could begin to change a culture. The Greeks believed in many gods, but they had a shrine to an "unknown god." While this was primarily to make sure that they were not angering any gods that they might have forgotten, St. Paul used this as a jumping off point to begin to introduce them to the Judeo-Christian God. Anderson argues that "the responsibility of Christians in our own time remains as it was in Paul's - to radically transform culture, not by imposing values from above, but through a subtler yet more powerful process - living a vocation of love in the day-to-day reality of our lives."

Our world has become increasingly secular. A faith in God has been replaced by a faith in progress. The belief in a creator who has endowed us all with certain unalienable rights is falling by the wayside. "Human life is reduced to a meaning and purpose only in reference to this world, which is asking of this world something that it does not have the power to give." In contrast, Jesus' great commandment was to love God and one another.
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73 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on March 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"We cannot have compassion without acknowledging the suffering of others." This sentence (p. 167) crisply expresses Carl Anderson's central claim in A Civilization of Love that a reinvigoration of the Catholic tradition of personalism can transform the world. When we focus on individuals rather than abstract data, we discern the contours of their suffering--a suffering in which, we also realize, we're too often complicit. But we also discern the fact that they, made in the likeness of God, are eminently lovable. Just as Christ lovingly makes himself a gift to us in the Eucharist, so we're moved by compassionate love to give ourselves to them (p. 55). The goal is more than mere community; the goal is communion.

This vision of compassionate love as the catalyst for both vertical (human-God) and horizontal (human-human) relationships is as old as Christianity. Anderson draws on a diverse wealth of thinkers--for example, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Paul Ricoeur, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Robert Coles, Freud, Lao Tsu, Aquinas, and George Orwell--to argue for the vision's contemporary relevance. His defense is gracefully and judiciously written.

One of the outstanding qualities of Anderson's treatment is that he refrains from lapsing into a circle-the-wagons shrillness, a temptation into which many religious critics of modern secular culture fall. He makes it clear in his first chapter that he finds the "Whig version of history's" focus on material progress naively optimistic, and his subsequent examinations of education (Chapter 3), Christian humanism (Chapter 4), family (Chapter 5), globalization, work, and economics (Chapters 6 and 7), and right to life issues (Chapter 8) underscore his reservations about secularization.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Richard Lender on March 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The dust jacket of Carl Anderson's "A Civilization of Love" strikes a seemingly familiar note: "The battle today is between the culture of death (where people are judged by their social or economic value) and the culture of life." The expectation might be yet another polemical broadside to weigh down shelves already overloaded with such wares: The world is going to hell in a hand basket; hang on for the ride.

Yet Anderson seems to be up to something more, and that something more is evident almost immediately in the first pages of "A Civilization of Love." The polarity is only a starting point, rather than an apocalyptic call to arms - or a trumpet to sound retreat to the hills. Anderson is the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, so it is unsurprising to see him choose his title from a phrase by Pope John Paul II. Is it a throwaway? Is it an empty phrase? Is it an opposition - such as many have tried to draw - against the smaller "mustard seed" idea of the Church and Christianity of John Paul's successor, Benedict XVI?

The answer only becomes fully clear when Anderson reveals his working paradigm in his conclusion. Anderson latches on to three possible approaches of the Christian to society identified by twentieth century Protestant theologian H. Richard Niebuhr: 1) "Christ against culture," with Christ's message understood as a call to revolt against, or at least separate from, society; 2) "Christ of culture," an Enlightenment idea of Christianity as fully compatible with society, and Christ reduced merely to a great moral teacher; or 3) "Christ above culture" - the Christian message as engaged with, yet distinct from, the world. It is this last approach that Anderson embraces, and provides his thesis.
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