PUBLISHER’S LETTER FOR FEBRUARY 2023
Posted by ida decesaris on
In his recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis outlined the vision of a world reshaped by the spirit of “fraternity and social friendship.” Among his themes: “a better kind of politics,” solidarity with those on the margins, care for the earth, a new encounter with people of other faiths, the rejection of racism and xenophobia, and the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. I was struck by how many of these themes are echoed in new Orbis titles.
One of the contexts for the Pope’s encyclical was the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic, which “momentarily revived the sense that we are a global community, all in the same boat, where one person’s problems are the problems of all.” And yet, Francis asks, will we truly learn from this experience? In his new book, Beyond the Pandemic: Spiritual and Ecological Challenges, Diarmuid O’Murchu addresses this very issue. He argues that the pandemic calls for a “reset”—a major shift in human consciousness, in the very ways we see and understand life (or fail to do so).
In Anti-Asian Racism: Myths, Stereotypes, and Catholic Social Teaching Joseph Cheah compares and contrasts the Asian experience with anti-Black racism, considering major stereotypes of the “perpetual foreigner,” the “Yellow Peril,” and the myth of the “model minority.” Jawanza Eric Clark, in Reclaiming Stolen Earth: An Africana Ecotheology demonstrates how the crisis of global climate change, like so many other social crises, is an outgrowth of the problem of “whiteness.”
In How to Remake the World Neighborhood by Neighborhood, Mack McCarter and Tim Muldoon tell the remarkable story of Community Renewal International. Drawing on practical experience, they show how the work of building “social friendship” on the local level can indeed help change the world. As for a “better kind of politics,” Howard Thurman’s Democracy and the Soul of America, edited by Peter Eisenstadt and Walter Earl Fluker, explores the strivings of the disinherited, and how democratic ideals can enhance individual personhood
Roger Haight, SJ, in The Nature of Theology: Challenges, Frameworks, Basic Beliefs, outlines a new framework for teaching theology today in an era accountable to new scientific understandings, religious and cultural pluralism, and the enduring challenge of unspeakable suffering.
Fratelli Tutti concludes with a tribute to Blessed Charles de Foucauld (now Saint Charles), the desert hermit who wished to be “the universal brother.” A collection of essays edited by Joseph Victor Edwin, SJ, Brother to All: The Life and Witness of St. Charles de Foucauld, explores the significance of his witness, with special emphasis on his contribution to Christian-Muslim dialogue.
May all these books support the Pope’s invitation: “Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth, which is our common home . . . each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.”