Thursday, February 20, 2003

Book of the Moment: Healing the Culture
I take ever opportunity I can to promote the Life Principles Institute, founded by Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J. (currently President of Gonzaga University) and currently directed by the wonderful Miss Camille de Blasi. I had the pleasure of making Miss de Blasi’s acquaintance several years ago when she gave a presentation in Milwaukee. I have been enthusiastic ever siince, even applying for a job with them once (which I decided not to take so I could finish my dissertation—a good decision).

Fr. Spitzer has written a book with Robin A. Hernhoft and de Blasi called Healing he Culture: A Commonsense Philosophy of Happiness, Freedom and the Life Issues. Healing the Culture provides a rational basis for a pro-life position in the American context. Fr. Spitzer first develops a description of the human person based on his spiritual faculties, especially the capacity to question and seek self-transcendence. Then, using the principle of the right to the pursuit of happiness, and using classical philosophical ideas, Fr. Spitzer develops, a hierarchy of human goods with a priority of the person over things. These he calls the four levels of happiness. Finally, he looks at the consequences of such a definition of person and hierarchy of human goods on ten categories of cultural discourse in the American context, including happiness, success, self-worth, love, suffering, ethics, freedom, personhood, rights, and the common good. The book closes by applying the life principles to specific life issues of abortion and euthanasia.

Life Principles is a wonderful tool for the efforts of clergy and lay in the Church to promote the culture of life in the broad, pluralistic American context. It can be adapted to a variety of contexts and levels, from high school to adult ed to university instruction. It has a philosophical version, appropriate for dialogue with the broader culture, and a theological version, useful in an ecclesial context. Miss de Blasi has given Life Priinciple presentations to public schools, legislative bodies,, the judiciary, youth rallies, and many other settings, many of them wildly secular in the way that only the great Northwest can be secular.

For more information on Life Principles, click here.

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