Preface and Introduction to All Ye LandsMICHAEL J. VAN HECKE & JAMES HITCHCOCK
The Catholic Schools Textbook Project restores what has been lost in the secular texts and offers beautiful illustrations to accompany the story. We extend to teachers and students the first distinctively Catholic history textbooks since the 1960s.
Many years ago, when embarking upon a career as an educator, I was confronted with only two options in teaching history: beautifully designed secular texts with a definite anti-Catholic bias, or photocopied versions of old Catholic texts, which were outdated and, in many respects, overly parochial. I realized that Catholic schools were forced by default to use one option or the other. This was not serving our students. I was not satisfied with this limitation, and I found others, teachers and parents, who were not satisfied either. The Church has always been a blend of heaven and earth, the material and the spiritual; and we dreamed of a textbook that combined the beauty of secular texts with the expansive and hopeful vision of history that is truly Catholic.
For more than a decade we have been working to make this dream a reality, to answer the prayers of countless teachers and parets. Now educators and families can have both beautiful illustrations and accurate text that is true to the Catholic vision of history as set forth in the Second Vatican Council's guiding document: Lumen Gentium.
The Catholic Schools Textbook Project fills the void in the historical education of youth who know little of the accomplishments and contributions of their parents and grandparents, and even less about the men and women who have given us our civilization, our country and, most importantly, our Catholic Faith. This vacuum of historical knowledge is not our true heritage. Ours is a culture of life and of hope, of faith, vast and deep, and rich achievements for the common good.
The Catholic Schools Textbook Project restores what has been lost in the secular texts and offers beautiful illustrations to accomany the story. We extend to teachers and students the first distinctively Catholic history textbooks since the 1960s.
As a teacher and administrator, I cannot fully express my satisfaction at finally having an option for Catholic schools, an option to educate with the tool of a textbook which is balanced and supportive of our Faith. The Catholic Schools Textbook Project restores what has been forgotten for the good of the Church, for the good of society and for the good of our children.
Michael J. Van Hecke, M.Ed.
The Catholic Schools Textbook Project
Since the Second Vatican Council, Catholics have been aware of the deficiencies in religious education which afflict the Church at all levels, from kindergarten to graduate school, and some efforts have been made to correct these.
But the faith is more than theology. Because the Second Person of the Trinity became man, entered human history, that history must have deep religious significance for believers. The Judaeo-Christian tradition sees historical events as governed by Divine Providence, while at the same time warning believers against thinking that they are able to read the meaning of that Providence.
It is not insigificant that the Gospels were written not as theological treatises but as historical narratives, nor is it coincidental that the most radical attacks on Christianity have been on its historicity.
Just as Catholics have been deprived of much of their authentic theology over the past forty years, so also they have been deprived of their history, a deprivation which has been much less noticed. This has several damaging effects. Catholics now have little sense of their tradition, little understanding of how the faith can and should permeate a culture and serve as a leaven in that culture. They have little sense of what the lived faith was like through the centuries. Indeed they are extraordinarily present-minded, with little understanding of the faith as anything beyond their own immediate communities. They have little sense of the Communion of Saints that they are intimately linkedwith all those who have gone before them with the sign of faith. They have little sense that history itself has a religious meaning.
The Catholic Schools Textbook Project is one of the most promising enterprises of the post-conciliar era, with its determination to once more make available to Catholics an understanding of "secular" subjects which helps illumine the richness of the faith.
The curricula of the Catholic schools prior to Vatican II has often been criticized for its alleged parochialism, the assumption that there was such a thing as "Catholic mathematics," for example, or the tendency to look at the past exclusively through apologetic eyes. These mistakes, to the extent that they were real, will not be made by the Catholic School Textbook Project. As this volume hows, it will be a series which on the one hand honors the Catholic faith and on the other is not afraid to be honest and comprehensive in its treatment of the past. It is a project which deserves the support of every serious Catholic.
James Hitchcock St. Louis University
Van Hecke, Michael J. Preface." All Ye Lands: World Cultures and Geography. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002), vii.
Hichcock, James. "Introduction." All Ye Lands: World Cultures and Geography. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002), viii.
Republished with permission of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project. To purchase All Ye Lands: World Cultures and Geography, click on the image to the right.
Read a National Catholic Register article about All Ye Lands here.
Michael J. Van Hecke, M.Ed. is President of The Catholic Schools Textbook Project. James Hitchcock is professor of history at St. Louis University and a regular columnist for Catholic Dossier. He is on the Advisory Board of The Catholic Educator's Resource Center.
© 2002 Catholic Schools Textbook
Not all articles published on CERC are the objects of official Church teaching, but these are supplied to provide supplementary information.