Friday, April 25, 2014

The Genius of John Paul II (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers)

The Genius of John Paul II is a book by Richard A. Spinello. Mr. Spinello is a professor on ethics, social issues in management, and corporate strategy. As someone with an MBA, I was interested to see how someone with his background would touch on the moral wisdom of Pope John Paul II. In a few words, he did it both brilliantly and thoroughly. Drawing from the pope's encyclicals (primarily Fides et Ratio, Veritatis Splendor, and Evangelium Vitae), Spinello compares and contrasts these writings with philosophers both past and present.

Before explaining John Paul II's moral wisdom, Spinello begins by explaining modern "fundamental errors" in ethical thinking, such as relativism and proportionalism. He then discusses topics of faith and reason, the nature of the human person, the good, and ethics. Reading through this book one cannot help but see how the Church's views differ from those of the world. In Pope John Paul II's writings, which reflect the Church's teachings, emphasis is placed on humans being made in God's image; humans having a dignity and primacy above animals, and all human life being valuable. While some books of this nature would do nothing but explain and praise Pope John Paul II's writings, Spinello offers the reader dissenting views. This is invaluable, because not everyone you encounter in your everyday life will agree with you. Therefore, it is important to familiarize yourself with the arguments you could hear.

I had a tough time understanding all of this book, because I am not well-versed in philosophy or moral theology. It didn't help that John Paul II's writings also take some effort to grasp, due to his brilliant philosophical mind. It is for that reason that I found the chapter summaries to be invaluable in helping me understand some of the higher level concepts. This book did make me appreciate the genius that Pope John Paul II was though. It is no wonder he will be a saint, if not a doctor, of the Church soon. It also encouraged me to go back and try to read some of his encyclicals, particularly the ones mentioned above with this book as a detailed guide. If you are interested in the moral wisdom of the Church and John Paul II, I would recommend this book to you. Be sure to pair it with another Spinello work, The Encyclicals of John Paul II: An Introduction and Commentary.

This book was provided to me for free by Rowman and Littlefield Publishers in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!