Wednesday, June 8, 2011

If you read only one book this year, make it this one.





If you read only one book this year, I hope it will be:

What We Can't Not Know, by Professor J. Budziszewski

What We Can't Not Know: A Guide


Not only will I be re-reading it myself, it will also be required reading for my older children.

I think I may be obsessed with it.

It takes me an inordinate amount of time to read a book these days, and in the past several months, I have been stealing every spare moment to read this one. I finally completed it. All along the way, I have been wanting to blog about what I have learned, and yet I knew I should finish it before I posted about it.

For years, I have had a vague notion of the natural law. And throughout the year or so that I have written this blog, I have alluded to natural law time and again, each time learning a little more about it myself. But I needed more.

Why?

Well, all the discussions we have had on this blog with our leftist/secular/atheist friends like College Student, L, Miss Gwen, MaiZeke, Michelle and Peter, have left so many of us Catholics frustrated, and even baffled. If you're like me, you have asked yourself a thousand times, "Did I read that right?" "Is that what she really wanted to say?" "He couldn't really mean that, could he?" and "How did we get to this place?"

I have often been kept awake at night, going over some of the positions and arguments of those whom we debate. The overriding sentiment of my heart and mind in the throes of the most troubling exchanges is: "But she knows that isn't right!" and "He can't not know that!"

Professor B helped me make sense of what we see playing out here on the Bubble, and even among our own friends and family. It is charitably written (Professor B himself was once a committed atheist), but clear and honest, pulling no punches. He covers the natural law tradition in a way that is understandable and then applies it to the cultural situation in which we find ourselves today.

It's important to note: The book is written for a Christian audience (or those who are "half-persuaded"), and not for atheists and secularists (although I cannot wait for that book, Professor B!). However, he does invite the secular left to read along if they are interested in how we Christians discuss this subject among ourselves. He says this to those on the other side of the culture war:
[Y]ou are not part of my expected audience. But that does not mean that I want to hide the book from you; you are welcome to be a fly on the wall and listen in. Nor does it mean that I don't want to talk to you; this particular book is not a good vehicle of that hoped-for conversation, but by all means let us talk. But let us be honest too. We are on different sides.
Some people consider it "uncivil" to say so. They think the "culture war" is the fault of people who admit there is a culture war, and that the very use of terms like "culture war" demonizes people on the other side. In their view, we must pretend that we all want the same things. But we don't all want the same things, do we?
No, we don't. And lemme tell you, that type of honesty and clarity is so refreshing in this politically correct, morally confused world. While it can be unsettling and overwhelming to be presented with a true picture of the problem that lies before us, it is necessary to know what we are up against. The book is also balm for my own soul, personally, as it confirms that what we have been doing here in the Bubble has a good purpose.

The book is divided into four main sections:

I. The Lost World 
(includes just what it is we can't not know)

II. Explaining the Lost World 
(includes the "four witnesses" to the natural law and some objections)

III. How the World was Lost 
(this is the section you must read; I'll get to that in a minute)

IV. Recovering the Lost World 
(includes the "public relations" of moral wrong and moral right)

My hope is that each and every one of you would have your own copy of the book to read for yourself and to have available for your children. But, realistically, I know that is not going to happen. So, here is my proposition to all of you busy folks who, like me, find it very difficult to commit (in time or finances) to yet another book. I originally read What We Can't Not Know on my Kindle. However, I recently bought two "real" copies of the book: One for me, and one for all of you.

Here's how I want it to work: I will mail the book to anyone who is committed to reading at least Section III of the book ("How the World Was Lost") in no more than seven days (it should take you much less time than that -- less than a day, actually -- but I want to give everyone a good week to get to it*). Then, your only other task is to mail it to the next person on the list, whose address I will supply to you. If you are interested, please email me at littlecatholicbubble@gmail.com, and I'll take it from there.

Catholics, I think it's that important. Understanding what Professor B lays out really is the key to understanding the morally chaotic world swirling around us. Please get this book. Or email me and I will get it to you.



*Of course, if anyone wants to read the whole book in those seven days, feel free! I just want to make sure the book keeps moving to those who want to read it. And don't be shy if you've never commented before but still want to receive the book. E-mail me!




-

44 comments:

  1. Leila, I see from Amazon link he has several other books as well. You recommend starting with this one?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Colleen! It's the first one I've read, and it seems like a primer, so I think it's a great place to start. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm in. Ill ignore my kids and read the whole thing in 7 days :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow. VERY high words of praise! I cannot resist- even though I've got a stack of books waiting patiently for my attention. :) Thanks, Leila!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ha-- ask Lauren, Leila... I'll have the whole thing read by the time I'm wishing for my second cup of coffee... around 9 am. :) Seriously, though-- I'd love to participate in this.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Was going to ask if there was a Kindle version! Downloading now!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think some of the best reads for American Catholics today are these: (below) One, they are free to read at any time and two, they seem so applicable to the things I was experiencing and struggling with in my faith.

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/jowett/brooks.iv.xxv.html

    http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Luke/Generosity-Handling-Money

    I don't know if these are from other Christian denominations. I'm sure they are, but what they state is absolutely right on the money.

    I tend to enjoy the reads that keep me honest or ask me to sit lower until God wants me to come forward, so that is what you'll find in these links.

    ReplyDelete
  8. And on Amazon, you can click on the photo and look inside to read certain parts of the book. There are also more reviews.

    http://www.amazon.com/What-We-Cant-Not-Know/dp/1586174819?ie=UTF8&tag=littcathbubb-20&link_code=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969#reader_1586174819

    ReplyDelete
  9. Collen: I really recommend his "How to Stay Christian In College" book for young people heading off to school. The book isn't explicitly Catholic--I don't think Budziszewski was either when he wrote it--but its still a good primer on many pertinent topics.

    ReplyDelete
  10. So glad I saw this! I used to read Mr. B's musings on a blog he contributed to long ago, but it's been ages since I've seen anything by him. I didn't know he wrote books! Thanks so much for the recommendation.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well I didn't know you could download Kindle software for free! I'll get the book for sure. Thank you Leila. Must read for the kiddos? Great idea!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'll try to steal my son's kindle while he is at school and camp and download it to read! Great recommendation for reading!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Got the book from my school library! I started reading it a little bit, and it's very obviously not written for atheists, but I'll still do my best to at least read part 3, if not all of it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Leila here (hating on Blogger).

    Michelle, excellent! I found the first two sections (well, mostly the second section?) a little harder to get through, but I think sections three and four are worth your while.

    I do hope he comes out with a book for secularists, to have that conversation.

    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
  15. PS: Kudos to your school librarian for stocking it! Professor B has some interesting things to say about modern universities and university professors. :)

    --Leila

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love this book! I wanted to read it forever, but it was out of print for years--and so very costly. I had it on my Amazon Wishlist, but it was always listed for like $30-$40 dollars for a USED copy...more than I could afford at the time.

    Then one day, some random seller listed it for $3.69! I snapped it up, totally thrilled that I had finally gotten it.

    And IT'S AMAZING. And now Ignatius Press has scooped it up and it's finally in print again!

    A good follow-up is his book Written on the Heart.

    And his name is pronounced Boojee-hefski.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Erin, thank you! I am happy to know this, and I am SO happy to know how to pronounce his name!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I heard him speak on Catholic Answers a couple months ago... it was very intriguing, especially since I've had little introduction to natural law... here is the link for anyone who is interested!

    http://www.catholic.com/audio/2011/mp3/ca110413b.mp3

    ReplyDelete
  19. I ought to check to see if our library carries this book...but I sent you an e-mail anyway! :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Leila, just put it on order at our library. Looking forward to reading it. Would it be jumping the gun to ask a bit about section III, How the World Was Lost? Coincidentally, I'm currently reading Righteous Indignation, and I'm just now reading the author's part about how we became the nation we are today. He is discussing a lot about the German philosophers whose beliefs have been accepted by the left, especially those in academia, the news media, and Hollywood. He is also discussing Saul Alinsky's book, Rules for Radicals. Would this be totally different from the influences recognized by Professor B?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Just downloaded it on my Kindle! I'm very excited! :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Liesl, thank you! And Sharon, great idea to get it in the libraries!

    As for Section III, it's divided into "Denial" and "Eclipse". Basically, he takes us step by step through the practicalities of how moral relativists can almost turn off their consciences and make it seem as if they simply don't know what is obvious (my example is that now people on the left seem positively shocked that men and women are different). He uses the abortion issue to illustrate how the thought process works, and talks about the Five Furies which are bound to follow us when we deny the knowledge of deep conscience. We see this in ourselves (when we try to justify our sins) and in the liberal world of relativism. It is a wake up call!

    In the second part he talks about things like the new "Cult of the Expert" (where before it was assumed, even by the ancient philosophers, that the common man had common sense and was not in need of experts to tell them basic things that we all know), and the Return of the Sophist (which I was learning about from scratch!), and things like the "disabling of shock and shame", the "prolongation of adolescence", among other things. All very riveting, and making such perfect sense.

    Just simply fascinating.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Count me in! No hurry, but add me to the list of receivers!

    DD

    ReplyDelete
  24. Gonna read it on vacation next week! Thanks! (I'm weird about books-I don't like giving them back if they're good so I'll need my own. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  25. Just downloaded on the Kindle and very excited to read! Thanks for the recommendation!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Sounds good, I'm on it. But come summertime, I usually want to get away from heavy reading and grab a memoir to sink into while that glorious sun beats down and the scoot-bums splash in the water.

    I'm reviewing ideas now, so anyone who's read a good one, plz don't be shy and pass along the title.

    Religious person's or not. Matters not.


    -Nubby

    ReplyDelete
  27. Nubby, The Glass Castle is a great little summer read! It will take you about 2 seconds but it's great:)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hey Nubby, not sure what you typically enjoy reading, but I'd recommend anything by Tahir Shah (Sorcerer's Apprentice is a good one to start with). His stories are about his extraordinary travel experiences, and read like fiction even though they aren't.

    I'll also second Manda's recommendation - that was a fantastic book.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Nubby,

    The Help was excellent. Not too serious, but not fluffy either.

    I don't know if you like mysteries, but I always like Agatha Christie for a little light reading.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Just purchased the physical version of Professor B's book here at the IHM Conference. Might read it on my way up to Boston tomorrow if I decide not to drive!

    And for Nubby, Agatha Christie is good. Memoir wise though, I'd suggest Ernst Junger's "Storm of Steel." An interesting first hand memoir from the German side of WWI. Light on any hefty thoughts, other than depictions of the realities of war. Or you could do the Allies' side and look up Sassoon's memoirs. Though Sassoon was much more the pacifist than Junger.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Okay Leila - I just purchased it for my Kindle (not that I don't have a list of at least 20 other books to read!) but I trust you....

    ReplyDelete
  32. no need to add me to the list--I ordered a copy from Amazon. Looking forward to reading the book with all of you!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Thanks, all, for the good memoir suggestions. I will be looking into all of those.

    Leila, you might also enjoy the Handbook of Catholic Apologetics, if you don't already own it. By Kreeft and Tacelli. Great resource material- outlines everything from God's existence to the Resurrection, to the Bible as History, to other religions, to objective truth.

    Good to keep on the book shelf.
    Blessed Sunday,
    -Nubby

    ReplyDelete
  34. Nubby, yes, I love that book! I own it and also its precursor, The Handbook Of Christian Apologetics, which is basically the same thing, but for all Christians to use. Thanks for plugging it… it's worth it!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thought you might already. :)

    ReplyDelete
  36. Leila, it's Beth. I'm not in a hurry but could you put me on the list for the book. Thanks. Love you.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Leila,

    I just ordered the book. I am exited to read it! Along with 20 or so books in my 'to read' pile! :) I need my own copy as I tend to underline and write comments in books that are really move me.

    ReplyDelete
  38. This kind of goes hand in hand w/ your current post on Contraception/Abortion and this one on a meaningful book: I just researched a bunch of memoir titles and came away expecting I'll order the Dorothy Day book "From Union Square to Rome".

    She was a communist/journalist turned Catholic. She began the Catholic Worker movement (social justice work) She had two common law marriages, one abortion, and was a strong voice against the 1960's "free love" as she had suffered thru that lie, so my brief research indicates.

    Will order that along w/ your suggestion here and give my two cents sometime down the road.

    ReplyDelete
  39. How's everyone else doing on this book? Is there a starting date to discuss it? I'm using little post-it arrows to mark the parts that really hit me, and the book is quite full of them! Thanks for recommending this book, Leila!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Sharon, the book is making the rounds! I think it's on to the second person now…. Some folks have bought the book and some have it on their Kindle. I hadn't thought of a discussion of it, but maybe we could do that on a post sometime in the near future!! Isn't it a fantastic book? SO many illuminating points….

    ReplyDelete
  41. OK just read the book (got it on library loan). I find many of his arguments compelling, but find that he falls down in other areas. back soon.

    ReplyDelete
  42. raremem, natural law arguments can be used instead of religious ones. For more on natural law, check this out:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/06/if-you-read-only-one-book-this-year.html

    If you want to get on the list for the book (which is traveling the country now!), let me know by emailing me.

    ReplyDelete
  43. You need a "recommended book" tab! Although, I have a stack full that I have purchased from your recommendations that have not been read, but I want to be able to add to that with ease when I get a chance! :) Thank you for being such a great teacher!

    ReplyDelete

PLEASE, when commenting, do not hit "reply" (which is the thread option). Instead, please put your comment at the bottom of the others.

To ensure that you don't miss any comments, click the "subscribe by email" link, above. If you do not subscribe and a post exceeds 200 comments, you must hit "load more" to get to the rest. We often have meaty and long discussions -- trust me, they're worth following!