If you read only one book this year, I hope it will be:
What We Can't Not Know, by Professor J. Budziszewski
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.
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 email@example.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!