Item description for Christianity, Democracy, And The American Ideal: A Jacques Maritain Reader by Jacques Maritain & III James P. Kelly...
Why Democracy needs Christianity: Maritain explains that in a society unleavened by religious ideals, an enduring democracy can never take root. And once a religious people abandons its faith, even the greatest democracy must wither and die.
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Studio: Sophia Institute Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.5" Width: 5.66" Height: 0.46" Weight: 0.45 lbs.
Release Date Sep 1, 2006
Publisher Sophia Institute Press
ISBN 1933184019 ISBN13 9781933184012
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More About Jacques Maritain & III James P. Kelly
Jacques Maritain was born in Paris in 1882. A convert to Catholicism, he was professor at the Medieval Institute of Studies of Toronto and at Princeton University. He was French Ambassador to the Vatican from 1945-48 and received the Grand Prix de Litt rature de l'Acad mie fran aise in 1961.
Jacques Maritain was born in 1882 and died in 1973.
Reviews - What do customers think about Christianity, Democracy, And The American Ideal: A Jacques Maritain Reader?
A Superb Introduction to the Thought of Maritain Jul 15, 2005
In this book, James P. Kelly III provides an impressive sample of the ideas and writings of one of the most-neglected twentieth-century philosophers. As Kelly astutely points out, Maritain considered many of the questions still confronting thoughtful Christians living and working in a democratic, pluralistic society. Maritain sought an active, dynamic Christianity that contributed and animated the public square in conspicuous, salutary ways. Maritain worked, of course, from a Thomistic perspective, and his learning draws heavily upon and contributes to the Catholic Intellectual Tradition in manifest ways.
Kelly obviously spent years reading and re-reading Maritain and Kelly organizes the book in a user-friendly fashion. Although the writings of Maritain can be dense, even prolix, Kelly's brief chapters (thirteen in all) and introductory comments help orientate the reader and place the words in a meaningful context. For example, the chapters on "Faith-Based Initiatives" and "The Role of the State in Education" (two very contemporary and contested issues) provide rich quotations culled from Maritain plus a bibliography of additional primary sources from Maritain's other works as well as appropriate Church documents. Taken together, this material serves as a wonderful foundation for any informed discussion of these issues.
Thoughtful Catholics and other Christians should acquaint or re-acquaint themselves with the ideas of Maritain; this very affordable book from the Sophia Institute Press offers that opportunity. James Kelly provides a laudatory service by making these ideas readily available and giving them a useful framework and context. The public square benefits from civil discourse about these and other important issues. Catholics and other Christians need to participate in these public conversations with intelligence, integrity, and charity. Kelly and Maritain provide an admirable model for that enterprise.
An excellent 'Starter Course' on Jacques Maritain May 28, 2005
In looking at the contemporary relationship between Church & State, the compatability of the 'American Experiment' and liberal democracy with Catholic Christianity, the role of religion in public life and education, one is likely to encounter the Jesuit political scholar John Courtney Murray. Less recognized, but rather more substantial in my opinion, is the Thomistic philosopher Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) -- without consideration of whom no discussion of these issues is complete.
As Michael Novak said in his "salute to Jacques Maritain":
" . . . In political and social thought, no Christian has ever written a more profound defense of the democratic idea and its component parts, such as the dignity of the person; the sharp distinction between society and the state; the role of practical wisdom; the common good; the transcendent anchoring of human rights; transcendent judgment upon societies; and the interplay of goodness and evil in human individuals and institutions. Indeed, in the thrust that this body of thought gave to Christian Democratic parties after World War II, Maritain gained the right to be thought of as one of the architects of Christian Democracy both in Europe and Latin America."
Against the secularist philosophies of his day, Maritain espoused an "integral humanism" -- that is to say, a fully Christian humanism which "considers man in the integrality of his natural and supernatural being" -- which he believed could, if embraced, rescue modern democracy from the materialist spirit by properly orienting it to the 'horizontal' and 'vertical' dimensions of mankind:
"The end of political society is not to lead the human person to his spiritual perfection and to his full freedom of autonomy; that is to say, to sanctity . . . Nevertheless, political society is essentially destined, by reason of the earthly end that specifies it, to the development of those environmental conditions which will so raise men in general to a level of material, intellectual, and moral life in accord with the good and peace of the whole, that each person will be positively aided in the progressive achievement of his full life as a person and of his spiritual freedom."
Having authored over twenty books, Maritain's writings on these topics can be rather daunting. Hence I was pleased to discover Christianity, Democracy, and the American Ideal, a "Jacques Maritain Reader" by Sophia Institute Press. In the space of a hundred or so pages, James P. Kelly III -- President of the Solidary Center for Law & Justice and Director of International Affairs for The Federalist Society -- compiles small nuggets of Maritain's thought on a diversity of subjects, arranged by pertinent themes as "The Limits of Social Planning," "Christianity and the Common Good," "Faith-Based Initiatives," "The American Experience", and "Christian and Democratic Evolution."
The book itself is deceptively small. Most of these selections are no more than a paragraph long -- just enough, in my experience, to whet the reader's appetite. But Kelley has skillfully arranged the work such that one quickly picks up connections from one chapter to another, and is moved to carefully ponder what Maritain is saying in one passage before moving along to the next.
Those who really want to benefit from Maritain will avail themselves of Kelly's recommendations for "further reading and reflection" at the end of each chapter, conveniently listing key passages from Maritain's numerous works, as well as related papal encyclicals and counciliar documents.
This would make an excellent gift for any student of political philosophy or Catholic layman interested in the social doctrine of the Church -- and, perhaps, to many a political legislator as well.