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"The book sets its stage with an introductory chapter that defines the human. The essence of man, Gibbons writes, is "to be begotten" and to "grow up with the capacity to own life, to make it our own" (p. 18). In this, says Gibbons, we are called to become like Jesus Christ, not in his Divinity which is beyond us (because we are not Gods), but in his perfect humanity which is before us (because we are men created in His image). And in this, says Gibbons after Aquinas, social science makes a valuable contribution as "all truth comes from the Lord God and leads to him because he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (p. 32). Set upon this stage, the book is a play in three parts (there is a fourth part, but it is a postscript and not part of the play). Part 1 deals with our spiritual nature and develops in detail the idea that God is life and that we come into the fullness of life only as we come into the fullness of God. We are called to grow into our humanity just as Jesus Christ grew into his humanity, by giving himself to his Father's will. Part 2 deals with our life in the world which is the drama of our gift of freedom before God's eternal judgment. Here Gibbons explores many nuances of the Decalogue, not least that its natural law is "law" both in the juridical sense of indicating how we are to live and in the existential sense of indicating who and what we are. Finally, Part 3 deals with the evolving world which Darwin described as a bio-logic of adaptation based on genetic variation and natural selection and which economics and sociology today describe as a socio-logic of adaption based on innovation and market selection. Here Gibbons traces a striking parallel betweenthe biological and social sciences that reveals much about our lives together. But here Gibbons also notes a stark disconnection; namely, that the laws of the biological and social sciences are not, finally, superior to our God-given human nature. As to biology: "The biological account of evolution is not and could never claim to be an account of the origin of our spiritual nature" (p. 186). And as to social science: "We are not objects bandied about by the impersonal laws of economics. We have autonomous minds and wills that create and that choose" (p. 141). Thus we are returned to the truth that will not be denied; that Faith knows what science cannot say.
It would be a shame if my dry recitation of the book's contents were allowed to obscure its many charms. Despite its clear direction the book is no straight-line march, but often a meandering walk in the park. There are enchanting side-trails with flowers to smell along the way. Often, and seemingly apropos of nothing, Gibbons will interject a startling insight, such as this one about how Christianity uniquely bridges the different notions of authority between the Western (Greek) and Arab worlds-the one abstract and impersonal, the other concrete and personal:
. . . it is the fusion of these ideas that gives Christianity its distinct character because we are both Westerners (Greeks) and Semites (Arabs). Jesus the person is so quintessentially Semitic, the Jesus the Good Shepherd and Jesus the Sacrificial Lamb. Yet he said of himself, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." So Socratic, so abstract, so pure (p. 155).
At the end of the day every book is personal, an intimacy between author and reader that succeeds or fails with the truth reached between them. I found in this book a glimpse of the truth of Jesus Christ who is our Word and Way; who is our involvement with God who is life. If there is to be a Catholic social science it must begin with this truth that we come to be human in Christ."--(Lloyd E. Sandelands, Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan)