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Book Review: A Nation For All by Korzen and Kelley

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.

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.

You can get the book here:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

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"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."

First Inaugural Address, President Barack Obama

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