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Tell ME Why

Hailed as a new classic in faith exploration, this remarkable book offers a rare chance to eavesdrop on a conversation between a believing father and a skeptical daughter about God, faith, and morals. World-renowned theologian Michael Novak accepts a unique challenge when his twentysomething daughter Jana sends him a long fax filled with practical questions about life and religion. His answers -- warm, wise, and unfaltering -- serve as guideposts to faith at a critical time in his daughter's life. For her part, Jana is not interested in a scholarly essay but in straight and honest replies; she challenges what she doesn't understand, and she never hesitates to bat back an answer she doesn't like. The result is a lively, thought-provoking dialogue that addresses the concerns of Jana's generation while also taking on the questions of the ages -- from the purpose of religion in our lives, to how "good" must a Christian be, to the problems of suffering, compassion, and the existence of God. Enacting as it does the difficult passing on of a noble tradition, Tell Me Why offers an illuminating path for anyone searching to embrace or deepen their faith.
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Many young seekers have to grapple with spiritual questions on their own, without someone they trust to challenge their thinking and give them more information. Theologian and former U.S. ambassador Novak (Belief and Unbelief, Transaction Pr., 1994) eagerly responded to his daughter when she borrowed some religion books from him and then sent him a FAX listing many questions. This book, covering such important topics as the nature of God, the veracity of the Bible, and the Catholic Church's most controversial teachings, is a result of their subsequent discussions. Jana, a writer of fiction and poetry in her 20s, demands good reasons and honest answers, and her father, in turn, helps her arrive at some clarity while allowing her to reflect further on matters she finds difficult to resolve. This will appeal mainly to a Catholic audience, although Novak makes sure to mention the contributions of other faiths to Catholic thought.

National Catholic Register of the most compelling religious books of the past year. John Cardinal O'Connor A poignant story of honesty nurtured by love, the formula for enduring faith. Jack Kemp This is the best explanation of traditional beliefs, Christian and Jewish, my wife and I have read in a long time. This is what the country should be talking about on the eve of a new century -- uplifting, nourishing, and inspiring to all. Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard law professor Quite literally a godsend to those of us who are trying to communicate our deepest beliefs to smart, good-hearted, but skeptical young adults. Its subtitle should be: "Everything you want your son or daughter to know about God, faith, and morals, but were afraid you couldn't put into words." Michael Medved, author/film critic/radio commentator Tell Me Why offers a priceless experience to discerning readers: listening in on an intimate but profound fatherdaughter conversation covering the most important issues of life and faith. All parents -- and children -- of every religious community can gain from this wise and eloquent book. Rabbi Marc Gellman, coauthor of How Do You Spell God? A wonderful book....If all families had fathers like Michael Novak, all our children would be pious; if all our families had children like Jana Novak, all our parents would be wise. Patrick Glynn, author of God: The Evidence Tell Me Why is nourishment for the soul -- a book to cherish and share with your loved ones. Richard John Neuhaus, editor-in-chief, First Things Why hasn't this been done before? Obviously, it was an idea awaiting Michael and Jana Novak. Parents and children all over America should turn off the television, read this book, and then embark together on a similar conversation into the things that matter most. Ralph Reed, Jr., President, Century Strategies Michael Novak is a national treasure, and this book reminds us once again why. In the finest tradition of C.S. Lewis and other great defenders of faith, Tell Me Why is a stirring and stimulating discussion of every person's need for a relationship with God and His church in a secular age. Elliott Abrams, president, Ethics and Public Policy Center Tell Me Why is a sparkling conversation between a father and his daughter about the deepest issues in life. As a father and as a Jew I found it compelling reading about the most serious issues of faith and morality. But this is no theology text -- it's a spirited debate that you will want to join. Read this, have your kids read it, and let the sparks fly.

This book all started with a fax. As the prolific author of numerous titles (The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism; Business as a Moral Calling; etc.), former politician and theologian Michael Novak is no stranger to answering challenges regarding his faith in relation to the world of politics and philosophy. However, when he receives a lengthy fax from his recent college graduate daughter, Jana, this father's skill in communication is put to the test. Jana Novak, a writer and poet, ponders the deep issues of faith in modern society. She relates questions and concerns to her father through candid, sincere requests for evidence in helping determine what part God and religion will play in her life. The book, written in a Q&A format, allows both Novaks to bring forth fresh insights and beg the reader to consider the difficulties of living out one's faith in a cynical, amoral society. Jana poses her faxed questions by focusing first on the foundations of religion in general. Why, she asks, "Does religion matter?" "Why so many different religions?" "What is God like?" Michael Novak's second series of responses stresses the particulars of religious experience. Jana wonders, "Why is our family Catholic?" "Must I take the Bible literally?" Finally, Jana considers the practicalities of faith. "What is Christian sexual love?" "What about abortion?" and "Do I need to be a Mother Theresa?" Interspersed throughout this dialogue between father and daughter are the writings of C.S. Lewis and other Christian writers who address the struggle between faith and doubt. Although Jana's questions about life, faith and God are often difficult to answer in simple statements, Michael Novak does an excellent job of creating a "learning atmosphere" for his daughter by providing her with a solid foundation of biblical principles and Catholic traditions to contemplate. (Aug.)

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