Against the Grain

Published July 29, 2008

Cutting against the grain of conventional wisdom, New York Times best-seller George Weigel offers a compelling look at the ways in which Catholic social teaching sheds light on the challenges of peace, the problem of pluralism, the quest for human rights, and the defense of liberty. In this major contribution to public theology, one of America’s most prominent public intellectuals offers a meticulous analysis of the cultural foundations of the free society, as he makes a powerful case for the role of moral reasoning in meeting the threats to human dignity posed by debonair nihilism, jihadist violence, and the brave new world of manufactured men and women.

againstthegrainAgainst those who would argue that public theology is unsafe for democracy, Weigel shows how contemporary Catholic thinking can help all people of good will grapple with the great issue of our time: how do we live freedom wisely and well? In doing so, he creates a new angle of vision on the state of the West in the first decades of the 21st century, even as he proposes solutions to present problems that draw on the perennial wisdom of the past.


“Weigel’s learned, clearly written, and tightly argued essays stand as the best evidence for his claim that the Christian tradition is indispensable for any serious discussion of the challenges facing our country. In contrast to the materialist determinism or secularist scientism dominating our public discourse, Weigel himself exemplifies what he describes as the ‘Christian realist sensibility—an understanding of the inevitable irony, pathos, and tragedy of history; alertness to unintended consequences; a robust skepticism about schemes of human perfection (especially when politics is the instrument of salvation); [and] cherishing democracy without worshipping it.'”

–Bruce Thornton, City Journal, June 27, 2008

“In [Aginst the Grain], [George Weigel] offers an ‘against the grain’ vision of politics, economics, and human dignity in the face of violence, chaos, and religious indifference in a way that is not chastising of his liberal brethren and American Catholics. His 12 sensitive, openly honest, and hopeful discourses should shed much light on the thinking of today’s informed and religiously conservative Catholics.”

–Gary Gillum, Library Journal, May 1, 2008

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George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and holds EPPC’s William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

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