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Michael Novak (born 1933) is an American Catholic philosopher, journalist, novelist, and diplomat. Initially a seminarian, he eventually became a reporter who attended the Second Vatican Council, married, and had children. He has written many other books, and also authored the famous 1983 essay, 'Moral Clarity in the Nuclear Age,' his response to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' pastoral letter, 'The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response.'
This 1986 book begins by noting that "There is much to praise" in liberation theology, and he admires its "intellectual ambition." (Pg. 2) Nevertheless, "It is my hypothesis that the liberal society, built around a capitalist society that promotes discovery and entrepreneurship among the poor at the base of society, will succeed more quickly, more thoroughly, and in a more liberating fashion, than (those) conceived by liberation theologians." (Pg. 9)
He observes that liberation theologians (e.g., Gustavo Gutierrez) seldom cite Marx in their writings, or give much evidence of having studied Marx. (Pg. 23) He comments, "the books of liberation theologians are disappointing," because in them "one learns very little from them about the practical institutions they will put in place the day AFTER the revolution they seek." (Pg. 34) Novak admits, however, that democracy "is no magic cure. Once the road to democracy is entered upon, there remain the same teeming millions to feed, to clothe, to teach, and to care for in illness and disease." (Pg. 71)
He questions whether the opinions of the poor have "special epistemological status?... it is sometimes also claimed ... that what the poor say is ipso facto true... For this claim there is not the slightest shred of evidence." (Pg.Read more ›
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A wonderful and refreshing read, here is a Catholic intellectual, who comes to the Protestant Reformation and the American Revolution as an outsider. He is able to dismember Marxist thought and Latin American Liberation theology ("Look North in Anger") as no one else has. His short chapter defending Adam Smith ("The cause of wealth is creativity") and Capitalism ("from the Latin head")is as fine a moral defense of Conservative economic thought as ever written.
As a Conservative, who covered the path from economics and politics to religion in the opposite direction, entering Seminary in mid-life in the early nineties, Novak's book was an oasis of clear thinking and moral purpose along the way.
Buy this book. Give it to your children, your pastor and your Congressman. All need it.
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Michael Novak, retired George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy from the American Enterprise Institute, is an author, philosopher, and theologian. Michael Novak resides in Ave Maria, Florida as a trustee and visiting professor at Ave Maria University.
Ever since The Open Church hit shelves in 1964, Michael Novak has been a voice of insight on American and Catholic culture. Author of more than 45 books on culture, philosophy, and theology, Novak continues to influence and guide right thinking. Winner of the 1994 Templeton Prize, Novak's Westminster Abbey address remains as instructive it was two decades ago. As a founding director of First Things and writer for many publications, Novak has sought to build up our institutions.