Item description for Values in a Time of Upheaval by Joseph Ratzinger & Brian McNeil...
Overview Ratzinger--now Pope Benedict XVI--exercises his role as teacher and spiritual leader with this impressive work on the crucial topics of the relationship between religion, morality, culture, truth and politics in these troubled times. (Catholic)
Publishers Description Joseph Ratzinger exercises his role as teacher and spiritual leader with this impressive work on the crucial topics of the relationship between religion, morality, culture, truth and politics in these troubled times. He passionately defends the vital role that traditional Christian values play in our increasingly pluralistic and multi-cultural world. In his preface to the book, Ratzinger asks the questions, "What are in fact fact the foundations on which we live? What supports our societies and holds them together? How do states discern their moral bases and the forces that motivate them to moral conduct--forces without which a state cannot exist?" Combining faith and reason, a "political theology" emerges in these pages that avoids the extremes of rampant fundamentalism and excessive relativism and secularism. The book is divided into three main parts: "What Rules Should Guide Our Conduct?"; "Responsibility for Peace"; "What is Europe?."
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More About Joseph Ratzinger & Brian McNeil
Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) is widely recognized as one of the most brilliant theologians and spiritual leaders of our age. As theology professor, prelate, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine and now Pope, he has been an inspiring teacher and a prolific writer. As Pope he has authored important encyclicals, as well as the best-selling Jesus of Nazareth. Prior to his pontificate, he wrote many influential books that continue to remain important for the contemporary Church, such as "Introduction to Christianity" and "The Spirit of the Liturgy".
Reviews - What do customers think about Values in a Time of Upheaval?
An Answer Deprived of Catholicism Sep 24, 2008
In light of the praise that has been burdened upon `Values in a Time of Upheaval', and considering the undeniable power of reasoning that is displayed in Ratzinger's theological contemplation, it seems daunting that anyone should propose to negatively critique his work. For myself, I offer no challenge to Ratzinger's correct evaluations on the state of Europe, or in the catastrophic demise of Christian values in pluralistic society which are contained in his book, yet a challenge must be raised to the claim that his conclusions and suggestions are firmly in line with Catholic teaching. Simply, they are not.
Clearly a victim to the much promoted fallacy of argumentum ad temperantiam, Ratzinger seeks to strike a balance between what he considers unreasoning religious Fundamentalism, and the moral and spiritual Nihilism that is much trumped as an asset to any modern society. Seeking a compromise between the two may become a neo-modernist philosopher, or a theistic sociologist, but it cannot be considered correct for a man who now claims to sit on the Throne of St. Peter. Indeed, a cursory clance to past Papal Statements, such as those voiced by Pius IX, Gregory XVI, Leo XIII, and Pius X, will reveal that the Catholic model of society has already been declared. Ratzinger's considerations of the infallible statements promulgated by these men is limited, and his acknowledgement of them is seemingly non-existent. The doctrine of the Social Kingship of Christ--a dogma that can be digested by both the peasant and the scholar--is brushed under the carpet, and replaced with over-intellectualised semantics which do no justice to God and His Mother, and which have no hope of being put to good practice in this age or in any.
Catholics must escape the neo-conservatve cliched mindset of Papolotry, and ask what the traditional teachings of the Church are regarding the problems that we face today. Those answers will not be found in this book. They should also ask why, for a man who claims that the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, be reconciled with earlier Councils, his own attempts are limited to nil.
Man's Search for Freedom Jul 16, 2007
Ratzinger's reason for writing this book is found most cogently stated in the epilogue when he notes, "Man feels truly free, truly himself, only when he has got rid of God." He wrote this book to combat that error, to point out the historical developments of various political movements and to urgently demonstrate the need for God and the role of faith in modern life. This is not novel ground, even Ratzinger as then cardinal and now as Pope Benedict XVI has made similar remarks. Yet what makes this book unique is it's focus on man's departure from God, how it came about and the urgency for a return. I would hardly say it's his best book, but he is a phenomenal writer and it's well worth reading.
A noble effort, but leaves me wanting more Apr 10, 2007
This is a small volume of essays, on moral and political topics. In it, Pope Benedict XVI continues to explore a theme which has often concerned him: the threat posed by secularism and moral relativism to the future of the West, and particularly to the future of Europe.
As always, Benedict is a superlative writer and thinker. He is one of the world's foremost intellectuals, in any field, and everything that he writes is worth reading. The Church is truly blessed to have so gifted a leader, particularly coming after the extraordinary leadership of John Paul the Great.
At the same time, I have to say that Benedict's political writing is a bit disappointing to me. He tends to focus on the negative. Europe is falling apart, because it has lost its Christian roots. The "European sickness" has lead to a drastic decline in the birth rate, a loss of will to defend European values against attack and a general sense of self-loathing, self-indulgence and of giving up on the future.
I agree, but: (a) at this point, I heard it before; (b) I would like to have more insight into WHY Europe has gone in this direction; and (c) I would like more and better ideas about how to turn things around. Unlike the sunny optimism of John Paul, Benedict seems to take a very black view of the European future. Like Reagan, John Paul always used to feel that our best days our ahead of us; Benedict seems to feel that things are falling apart, and there is not a whole lot anybody can do about it. He may be right, but I would like a bit more optimism from the high command.
And this leads to another problem that I have with Benedict's political thought. His focus is entirely European. I do not think he has a good grip on world politics, considered as a whole. A useful contrast is with Mark Steyn's book, American Alone. Steyn is far from an optimist, in any sense of the word, but he is very clear that, while Europe is going down the drain, America is doing far better, in every sense of the word.
Benedict retains this European idea that America is an "outlaw" nation, because it does not listen to "world opinion", meaning, of course, Western European opinion. I think what this analysis misses is that "world opinion" so defined is so filled with weakness and self-hatred that, were America to listen to it, America would be paralyzed. If America is to remain an effective moral actor on the world stage, we can not listen to Europe, because, candidly, Europe is ALWAYS opposed to effective action.
I am sorry to see the Pope buy this nonsense that somehow multilateral action, particularly when based upon European or UN supports, is morally superior to unilateral American action. Hey, as a practical matter, America needs all the allies it can get, but, as a moral matter, I can not see how any serious person can think that the UN or the European Union is a moral authority compared to America. Sorry, but the UN and the European Union sat there and did nothing throughtout all of the Balkan Wars, Rwanda, Darfur and all the rest of it. The reality is, whenever there is genocide or dictatorial abuse in the world, either the US intervenes or no one does. The US is not perfect, but it sometimes acts effectively in favor of the world moral order. Europe never does.
Benedict, it seems to me, does not undertand that the European sickness has not afflicted America as badly as it has Europe. Yes, we have our share of self-loathing types, and of morally decadent, self-indulgent people, but they do not define America. Our birth rate remains the highest of any of the industrialized nations. Our economic growth rate is far higher than that of Europe. Compared to Europe, America retains a great deal of self-confidence and faith in the future.
What accounts for the difference? A big reason is that we have a huge Fundamentalist Protestant population. America is not France, in large part, because we have the Bible Belt, and they voted in Reagan and now Bush.
This is an empirical fact, but it suggests a course of action. The Catholic Church should align itself more with fundamentalists and evangelicals. This little book is largely a cry for those who believe in traditional values to stand firm for the faith. Well, we have tens of millions of Christians who feel that way in America, but they are mostly not Catholics. Benedict would be a far more effective leader, if he would build more bridges to our brothers and sisters in Christ outside the Church. I appreciate that ecumenical outreach has been a big priority under both John Paul and Benedict. I suggest, however, that we ramp it up; Christians need unity now, more than ever. Also, it seems to me that most ecumenical outreach is toward what we call in America the "mainstream" Protestant churches, i.e. the big-name, high-status denominations like the Episcopalians and the Lutherans, whose churches are declining rapidly. We need ore outreach toward Baptists and other Evangelicals. They are the Christians whose churches have vitality.
Defends the role traditional Judeo-Christian values in the world Feb 3, 2007
Values in a Time of Upheaval is a title perfect for modern times: a discussion in which the author defends the role traditional Judeo-Christian values in the world. His survey of the Christian faith and its place in a changing modern society of competing values and religions makes for an excellent review of his ideas and solutions on world problems and is a recommended pick for any Christian spiritual library interested in dialogues surrounding contemporary issues.
Like Breathing a Refreshing Draught of Air Jan 22, 2007
I was unaware of this little gem until I was visiting the refectory of the monastery which is affiliated with my former undergraduate institution. While eating, the spiritual reading progressed as it normally does, although the tone most definitely sounded somewhat contemporary. Hearing the text, I though that it might just be something by Pope Benedict, for the presentation and style surely sounded like his. Additionally, the no-nonsense, profound approach to the subject set of "Ratzinger-sirens" in my brain. Once it was confirmed that this was a work of His Holiness, I made certain to place it on my "to buy" list because of my deep love for his work.
I must say that this book should be a necessary read for all politicians in the Western World, as West that is losing its conviction for the truth and is slowly slipping into the hole of relativism. What we have here is an enlightened testimony on the power of the Truth, a power which is not coercive, as the Pope affirmed in Regensburg. Although I am not ready to proclaim this from the roof-tops, it is my conviction that we have forgotten the nature of democracy and are slipping into a "mob-rule" (or "majority rule") society which has little conviction for the Truth but instead embraces the agonal principles of political power, particularly in the factionalistic party system. Although it is my conviction that the political realm will never be perfect on its own (for the world will not be perfect on its own), I do think that steps must be taken in the right direction in order to ensure that we function as Collaborators in the Truth and not partisan dialecticians. I must say that this text is very accessible and yet profound and is therefore suggest it to all Catholics, as well as all persons of good intent who are open-minded enough to reflect upon the thoughts of a profoundly brilliant man.