The God That Did Not Fail

MOST REVEREND CHARLES J. CHAPUT

The God That Did Not Fail is one of the best books Iíve read in years ó important, absorbing and very well informed.

“All people by nature search for meaning and even for truth, and almost all of them, today as in the past,
conduct the search through some form of religion.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput

With these simple words about a simple fact, Robert Royal begins his latest book. The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West (Encounter Books). For anyone keen on how religion has always shaped society and continues to shape our public life: Get a copy of this book. Read it. Think about it. Share it with your friends. I rarely talk about authors or books in this space. But this week, I’m glad to make an exception. The God That Did Not Fail is one of the best books I’ve read in years — important, absorbing and very well informed.

This should surprise no one. Dr. Royal, an experienced author and policy analyst, is president of the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. He’s also a gifted speaker. Catholic readers have known his byline for years on everything from popular commentary to serious scholarship. Thoughtful and soft-spoken, Royal has never promoted himself as a “public personality.” He doesn’t need to. His content speaks for itself.

As studies have shown for decades, Americans have a very poor grasp of history. For a powerful country, that’s a dangerous form of amnesia. Without an accurate memory, people will fall for nearly any lie, as long as it sounds articulate. Three of the biggest lies in current public debate are that religion is a purely private matter; that religious believers should keep their convictions out of the public square; and that the Founders somehow intended to kick God out of American public life. None of this is true. The historical record proves exactly the opposite. In fact, all of these falsehoods are recent, and they would have made no sense to American citizens living before World War II. They’ve gained traction only in the last 50 years — pushed aggressively in the courts and media by a secularized political minority.

The God That Did Not Fail is not a polemic. Its history — very thorough, intelligent and well-told history. That’s why it’s so persuasive. Royal shows the reader the deeply positive influence of religion on society from Greece and Rome, through Judaism and Christianity, through the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, down to the current day.


Royal shows the reader the deeply positive influence of religion on society from Greece and Rome, through Judaism and Christianity, through the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, down to the current day.


Royal shows why belief in God is the cornerstone of individual dignity and humane societies. And he shows why modern secularism — the bigoted, pseudo-scientific materialism that sees religious faith as a superstition or personal idiosyncrasy — is not just misguided but dangerous. It cannot give a reason for why the human person deserves respect. It can’t even provide the kind of moral reflection needed to maintain itself.

For American Catholics, October is Respect Life month. Living our Catholic faith means making our Catholic beliefs the anchor of our lives; living them all the time every day, both in our private homes and our public choices; living them in our families, friendships, work environments and social and political decisions. Anything less is lukewarm. Anything less ignores Christ’s call to be leaven in the world and “make disciples of all nations.”

It’s fitting then that Robert Royal will deliver the fourth annual Robert Casey Lecture on Faith and Public Life here in Denver on Tuesday evening, Oct. 24. He’ll be followed on Saturday, Oct. 28, by Professor Gerry Bradley of the University of Notre Dame Law School. Bradley will lead a daylong Gospel of Life conference. He’ll focus on the vital role law plays in shaping — or undermining — a “culture of life.”

Both of these men — Robert Royal and Gerry Bradley — are outstanding Catholic speakers and scholars. If you want your Respect Life month to be a time of nourishment for the mind and soul and zeal for your Catholic beliefs, don’t miss these two talks. I’ll be there. I sincerely hope you will, too.

  

The God That Did Not Fail is published by Encounter Books, New York, and available through any bookstore. Dr. Royal will speak in Bonfils Hall at the John Paul II Center at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24. Admission is free and open to the public.

Professor Bradley will be the keynote speaker at the Gospel of Life conference set for 8:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28 in Bonfils Hall at the John Paul II Center, 1300 S. Steele St., Denver. Cost: $10 per person, free for seminarians and students.

  

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. "The God That Did Not Fail." Denver Catholic Register (October 4, 2006).

This article reprinted with permission from Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. It was orginally published with the title "Dynamic speakers to make Respect Life month time of nourishment, zeal for Catholic faith".

THE AUTHOR

Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., is the archbishop of Denver. He is the author of Living the Catholic Faith: Rediscovering the Basics.

Copyright © 2006 Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput


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