cover image Against the Grain: Christianity and Democracy, War and Peace

Against the Grain: Christianity and Democracy, War and Peace

George Weigel, . . Crossroad, $24.95 (339pp) ISBN 978-0-8245-2448-7

In this collection of 12 previously published essays, each revised considerably for this volume, noted Catholic pundit Weigel (Pope John Paul II, Witness to Hope ) ranges provocatively over a diverse selection of topics from social justice and abortion to atheism and just war. Underlying many of the essays is the idea of Christians as “resident aliens” in modern democracies who must, by their very callings, live in the world but not be of the world. As he observes, sometimes Christians may feel more like “residents” when their views of justice or compassion are more compatible with the world's views (as in Vatican II), but many times they will feel more like “aliens” (as during the Nazi regime) because their call to justice conflicts directly with that of the reigning political powers. Weigel points out that the Church can best influence public policy when it is a community of faith and love that emphasizes the flourishing of the individual over the success of a totalitarian state. While Weigel's deeply considered reflections on the Iraq War as a just war are certain to provoke reaction among his critics, his thoughtful essays on democracy and religion offer new insights into the meaning of Catholic social doctrines for the 21st century. (Apr.)