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The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion.

Jesuit Fr. David Toolan is an associate editor of America magazine in New York City.

The hot intellectual book of the season, of course, is Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter's The Culture of Disbelief. How American law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion (Basic Books, 328 pages, $25). In the great tradition of Holmes and Brandeis, this is a lawyer who can write intelligible sentences. And here he takes critical aim at ignorant journalists, dismissive academics and muddled judges who treat religion as an intruder in public affairs. If John Courtney Murray had still been around, be would have written this badly needed book.

My nomination for the year's most absorbing storyteller, with echoes of Boethius writing The Consolation of Philosophy from his prison cell is Terry Anderson, the Associated Press bureau chief in the Middle East who spent from 1985 to 1991 as a hostage in Beirut, Lebanon. I expected Den of Lions: Memoirs of Seven Years (Crown, 356 pages, $25) to be a claustrophobic downer, but instead it turned out to be an absolutely riveting account of grace under pressure -- a journey into the interior life. I would hate to think, though, that it takes an ordeal invented by a Shiite terrorist to bring some ex-Catholics, like Anderson, back to the church.
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Author:Toolan, David
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 19, 1993
Previous Article:The English Patient.
Next Article:Den of Lions: Memoirs of Seven Years.

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