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Tell Me Why: A Father Answers His Daughter's Questions About God Paperback – July 1, 1999
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When Michael Novak, theologian and award-winning author, sets out to answer the religious questions of the twentysomething generation, he finds himself with not only a formidable task but a fabulous opportunity. The book is set in a question-and-answer format, a dialogue, actually, between father and daughter--a young woman who is coming to grips with the questions of a generation. She is clearly serious in her challenges--pushing, probing, grilling, trying to understand what propels one into religious faith and why it even matters.
Fortunately for her, and for all who have ever questioned facets of their faith, Novak is not only grounded in biblical truth but passionate about it. While some parts are related specifically to Catholicism (as Novak says, there was nothing to be gained in avoiding his particular heritage), he broadens the perspective in such an open and pleasing way that those who will disagree on certain points feel satisfied that their views are nonetheless fairly represented.
Tell Me Why book leaves the reader with a sense of having drawn closer to God. It will challenge not only twentysomethings and those who are open to musing about religion, but also those who are fervent in their faith and want to put words to their beliefs. --Ann Weinheimer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
This book all started with a fax. As the prolific author of numerous titles (The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism; Business as a Moral Calling; etc.), former politician and theologian Michael Novak is no stranger to answering challenges regarding his faith in relation to the world of politics and philosophy. However, when he receives a lengthy fax from his recent college graduate daughter, Jana, this father's skill in communication is put to the test. Jana Novak, a writer and poet, ponders the deep issues of faith in modern society. She relates questions and concerns to her father through candid, sincere requests for evidence in helping determine what part God and religion will play in her life. The book, written in a Q&A format, allows both Novaks to bring forth fresh insights and beg the reader to consider the difficulties of living out one's faith in a cynical, amoral society. Jana poses her faxed questions by focusing first on the foundations of religion in general. Why, she asks, "Does religion matter?" "Why so many different religions?" "What is God like?" Michael Novak's second series of responses stresses the particulars of religious experience. Jana wonders, "Why is our family Catholic?" "Must I take the Bible literally?" Finally, Jana considers the practicalities of faith. "What is Christian sexual love?" "What about abortion?" and "Do I need to be a Mother Theresa?" Interspersed throughout this dialogue between father and daughter are the writings of C.S. Lewis and other Christian writers who address the struggle between faith and doubt. Although Jana's questions about life, faith and God are often difficult to answer in simple statements, Michael Novak does an excellent job of creating a "learning atmosphere" for his daughter by providing her with a solid foundation of biblical principles and Catholic traditions to contemplate.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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"Tell Me Why" can start debate among believers and non-believers alike. It can inspire critical thinking among the most complacent readers. It can even bring about new joy and enthusiasm to those who need a boost to their faith.
Other reviewers have complained that the discussion "degenerates into Catholic dogma." Being Catholic, I can assure other Catholics that this is a great book to read--and tell believers of other faiths that this is a book that will set them thinking about their own religious and spiritual beliefs. "Tell Me Why" covers abstract issues, such as how to choose a religion and why it is important to believe in a Higher Power, and practical points, such as abortion and ritual--all explosive topics in their own ways.
To its credit, "Tell Me Why" does not merely lay down Catholic doctrine and leave the reader, who may be unfamiliar with Catholicism, floundering for answers; it presents the philosophic background of each teaching. Doing so requires a lot of intellectual meandering, which is why Michael Novak can take over ten pages to answer a simple Yes or No question. (Of course, problems still crop up when Michael Novak explains something to daughter Jana's content, but not to the reader's.)
The text is sprinkled with quotes and prayers from figures such as C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, and other philosophers of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. (Michael Novak has a mind very much like a database when it comes to his field.) While reading, I often found myself thinking about unincluded others who have written about spritual and religious matters, such as M. Scott Peck or Kahlil Gibran. Though my experience proves that "Tell Me Why" is far from perfect or comprehensive, it also shows that this book _does_ inspire people to look into themselves in order to complete what the authors may have left unexplored.
We need more popular theology in our lives.