Book of the Month

Back to February 2016 Ed Reporter

Book of the Month

Social Justice Isn’t What You Think It Is, Michael Novak and Paul Adams, Encounter Books, 2015, $27.99

Leftists in education and society have appropriated the term “social justice,” stolen it from Christian thinkers, Popes, and others who believe that society could improve and take care of the most fragile among us, doing so without “the state” calling the shots.

Teachers unions take pride in being “social justice warriors.” Union leadership and some members promote extremely liberal notions, causes, and policies. They hope to indoctrinate schoolchildren in their personal belief system that government is the answer to almost any problem.

The first part of this book is an historical overview of the social philosophy of justice. Christian social justice begins with the belief in a good and loving God. It values liberty and freedom, and opposes those who believe the only higher power is the state.

Secular humanists don’t see social justice as a virtue, but rather as a weapon. According to the authors, “Social justice advocates seldom attempt to change minds and hearts one by one. Instead, they use political muscle to change laws and to coerce mass compliance.” Leftist activists hope to use social justice to attain their goal of government guiding lives instead of individuals living self-determined lives.

Teachers unions support “sins committed in the name of compassion,” such as their unwavering support of the misnamed “reproductive rights,” which actually means promoting abortion. True compassion would mean not killing the unborn.

Pope John Paul II wrote that he was “a philosopher of liberty.” Novak interprets the Pope’s writings thus: “It is an affront to human dignity for a social system to repress the human capacity to create, to invent, and to be enterprising.” Many federal programs meant to “save” people actually result in repressing them.

In his writings, Pope Leo XIII recognized “the moral obligation of providing material and external help for the poor,” but he also emphasized the “evils of socialism” and provided reasons it is always doomed to fail.

The second part of this book explains how to put Christian social justice into practice in relationships like marriage and throughout our communities, through moral ideals like conscience and duty.

It may be too late for the word “gay” to mean jovial. Hope remains that the rainbow isn’t forever hijacked by advocates of non-traditional sexual lifestyles. In this book, the authors do what they can to educate readers about social justice, as they attempt to rescue the concept.