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A Nation for All: How the Catholic Vision of the Common Good Can Save America from the Politics of Division [Hardcover]

By Chris Korzen (Author) & Alexia Kelley (Author)
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Item Number 96161  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   176
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.16" Width: 6.4" Height: 0.81"
Weight:   0.78 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2008
Publisher   Jossey-Bass
ISBN  0470258624  
EAN  9780470258620  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
On the eve of the most important presidential election in decades, A NATION FOR ALL sounds the trumpet to the tens of millions of U.S. Catholics who have refused to buy the notion that people of faith must subscribe to the narrow agenda of the far right. By shining the light of authentic Catholic teaching on pressing contemporary concerns like war, human dignity, poverty, and the looming global climate crisis, this book shows Catholics how their own faith tradition calls them to tackle a sweeping array of issues commonly left out of the faith and politics dialog. Most important, A NATION FOR ALL demonstrates how the core Catholic and Christian belief in promoting the common good can provide Americans of all faith traditions with a much-needed solution to the downward spiral of greed, materialism, and excessive individualism.

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More About Chris Korzen & Alexia Kelley

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Chris Korzen is co-founder and executive director of Catholics United. He served as executive director of the Catholic Voting Project in 2004 and 2005 after working as an organizer with the Service Employees International Union and Pax Christi USA.

Alexia Kelley is a principal founder and executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. She has served in diverse capacities with nongovernmental organizations committed to poverty reduction, social justice, and the environment. For nearly a decade, she worked in media, outreach, and development at the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the Catholic Church's national anti-poverty program.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
We need more than platitudes  Jan 30, 2009
While we agree with the authors' desire for unity among Catholics at least (if not Christians in general) toward the common good, we are left, in the end, without understanding the cure. It seems that Korzen and Kelly have rightly identified that there are times our political focus seems myopic on certain issues. But it seems also clear that the left-leaning side has done little to understand the points of the right-leaning side they decry. Both sides tend to marginalize the side with which they disagree slamming the door to dialog and productive understanding. Rather than strengthening the ties toward the common good, we assume our political opponents could not be as concerned with the common good as we are. We have become an army that shoots potential allies and have lost the fight for the common good.

All this the authors bring out in this little book and for that they are to be commended. However, their brand of alliance seems to be the same as their opponents - alliances based on their political agenda without considering the agenda of others. Compromise has to work both ways. And this little book, though identifying the problem from the perspective of the left, fails to grasp the significance of the right. For instance, there is no greater common good than life. Helping the poor and the ills of social injustice assumes there is someone alive to help. Life is of paramount importance and not simply a personal morality issue as the authors imply. Until they fully grasp the significance of the right, they will not find the right ready to grasp the significance of their views.

This is a well-written defense of Catholic-inspired social change. But it falls far short of the goal it wishes to gain implied by the title. In the end it is countering right-wing platitudes with left-wing platitudes but has no real answers and provides no real offer for compromise. It is well meaning perhaps and may help some in the right see the significance of the issues their left-leaning friends favor. But the fact that the authors virtually ignore and even trivialize the issues of life as questions of individual morality alone will more likely drive the wedge farther between the two. Compromise must work both ways and, sadly, there seems to be little give from either side still.

To make matters worse, both sides tend to make the mistake of thinking that compassion is measured by which cause we wish to throw tax money. Both think the answers are in the Whitehouse rather than in God's house. Perhaps we should spend less time trying to transform the political agenda of our Catholic friends and more time transforming our culture. All the bickering is getting us nowhere in our ultimate goal of spreading the gospel to change hearts and minds so our culture becomes one that sees life as sacred and the thought of taking it unfathomable. The solutions are not more Catholic politicians and pundits but more Catholics in general who are committed to carrying out the great commission - whatever their personal political slant may be. Of course, that would be a miracle.
Much Needed Reminder Today  Nov 25, 2008
Not too long ago I watched the DVD Bobby about Bobby Kennedy. The special features after the film captured much of the energy of his campaign with images of crowds made up of African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and of course, Caucasians. Hope abounded. There was the sense of a powerful flow towards the "common good." After watching the DVD I was washed over with a tremendous sadness - my heart asking,"Where has this all gone?" A Nation for All has dibs and dabs of Pentecost in it - windbursts and fire flares that reminded me of the energy at the beginning of the Christian community which had gathered a most unlikely mixture of higher-ups and down and outers, straight-line walkers and beyond-the-pale untouchables, temple-devotees and religious-legaleeze- mockereezes. Yet out of this bunch, a Spirit-empowered community was stitched together into a very visible garment ["See how they love one another!"] whose threads held tight because of common purpose - one mind, one heart, - the good of all, focused on, energized and mobilized by the work of "building the Kingdom." They struggled, they hammered out their unity on the essentials truths, they affirmed and promoted diversity, they formed circles of community without the need of someone being "no. 1" or controlling, or dominating. Thus for a time, they transformed the world into a different place - a place of "life for all." This happened till the Roman Empire fell and The Holy Catholic Church took its place and lost its true purpose and mission. Much of this "institution" no longer lived with one heart, one mind, at the service of the good of ALL. Hierarchy took over. Divisions became the norm. And, although the words were used, it was no longer the Church for All - It was the Western, European Church imposed on all. A Nation for All calls us to a re-imaging of what a nation can be when it becomes once again grounded and aware of where life, life for all, is found, is protected, is promoted, with justice and peace for all. This is a book that needs to be read by many people who are not aware of how they have bought into, and sold out to, culture values that suck out the values that make us fully human and fully alive. And thus in the land of plenty, or rather the land of excess, we die of famine.
"Politics of Division" need better remedy than "thinly veiled" political propaganda  Sep 4, 2008
Korzen and Kelley purport to be tired of the "politics of division." As a practicing Catholic who also follows politics and likes to remain engaged in the important debates of the day, I can certainly understand this sentiment. Far too often, our important public conversations regarding policy, morality, and citizenship, are reduced to ad hominem attacks. But when reading the text Korzen and Kelly have written, one gets the distinct sense that for these authors, the phrase "politics of division" has a rather limited definition - it seems to mean "the politics of the right," as understood by K and K. The authors speak of outreach programs organized by Deal Hudson (p. 69) and voting guides composed by Catholic Answers (p. 73) as "thinly veiled attempts" to validate the policies and agenda of the "religious right." Fair enough. But their criticism of organizations and pamphlets such as these is difficult to take seriously when one notices how often their own text and the arguments therein are aligned with the platform of the DNC. Might it too be a "thinly veiled" piece of political campaigning? But then again, how could it be, when the dust jacket offers praise from such notable independents as Jim Wallis and Sr. Helen Prejean?

A primer on political action for Catholic Progressives  Jun 18, 2008

If you are a Catholic and a progressive, but have not been able to find a way to articulate how your values inform your political, A Nation for All, by Chris Korzen and Alexia Kelley is a great book for you. The book serves as a manual for US-based Catholic progressives who want to put their faith into action. The book is well written, well-structured, and more to the point, seeks to provide solutions to serious problems, without getting preachy.

Full Disclosure/Bias Alert: I have met Chris Korzen before and sought his advice.

The book, written by the executive director of Catholics United and the executive director of Catholics in Alliance see to provide a framework for Catholics to engage in the political process by engaging their values. Importantly, they speak to the broad range of the values in Catholic Social Teaching, not just abortion, gay marriage and stem cells. They make heavy use of the US Bishops' document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship to show the full range of the values important to American Catholics.

The book is also well-structured. The first section outlines Korzen and Kelley's vision for the Common Good, and how we might return to a more civil public discourse. The second section is a primer on Catholic Social Teaching, and its breadth and depth. This section is great for anyone looking for an introduction to the history and scope of Catholic Social Teaching. After a brief discussion on the how to navigate the Church/State divide in America, A Nation For All then goes on to discuss the difficulties in being a Catholic Voter and the tough choices that have to be made.

Section 5 is the most interesting in the book. It does what most books like this do not. Rather than a philippic against the ills of society, it actually seeks to provide solutions. These solutions acknowledge that we can not wave a magic wand of legislation and solve difficult problems, but show how Catholic voters several way they they and their elected representatives can take steps in the right direction.

While this was the most satisfying section of the book, I found myself actually wanting more. A decent model for this is James Carville's book We're Right, They're Wrong, where he lists 10 specific government programs that resulted from progressive politics. This book would benefit from not only more values-based solutions, but more details as well.

As a former academic, I would like to see more footnotes and references to source material, but I admit this might be my own bias.

In summary, A Nation For All, by Chris Korzen and Alexia Kelley is the perfect book for Catholic values-based progressive looking to articulate how their values can be put into action in the political arena.

Write your own review about A Nation for All: How the Catholic Vision of the Common Good Can Save America from the Politics of Division

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