Why We Believe: Evolution and the Human Way of Being, Agustín Fuentes (Yale University Press). Does the capacity to believe make us human? Fuentes, the Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, CSC, chair in anthropology, examines that question in his latest book. He writes that the capacity to be religious is part of a deeper human capacity to believe. A look at common misconceptions about human nature, Why We Believe employs evolutionary, neurobiological and anthropological evidence to argue that belief is central to the human way of being in the world.
A Century of Votes for Women: American Elections Since Suffrage, Christina Wolbrecht and J. Kevin Corder (Cambridge University Press). As we mark the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted American women the right to vote, this book examines how women have viewed and used the ballot since 1920. Co-authors Corder and Wolbrecht, a professor of political science and director of both the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy and the Notre Dame Washington Program, sift the data for insight into how women’s voting patterns, turnout and opinions on voting have evolved. They also explore assumptions about how women as voters have influenced politicians, scholars and the media.
Why Liberalism Failed, Patrick J. Deneen (Yale University Press). Two years after its publication, and having been translated into 15 languages and counting, Deneen’s book is driving the anxious discussion about the future and fate of the last of the 20th century’s competing ideologies. The political theorist, Tocqueville scholar and Potenziani Chair of Constitutional Studies argues that liberalism’s long balancing act of contradictions — equality of rights but not of material goods; a governing legitimacy based on the consent of the governed, who have every incentive to retreat from the public square into their own private lives — is cracking along its fulcrum. Praised by former President Barack Obama for its “cogent insights into the loss of meaning and community,” Why Liberalism Failed has also earned plaudits from the right for delving into what David Brooks called “the basic values and structures of our social order.”
Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America, Darren Dochuk ’05Ph.D. (Basic Books). Petroleum and Christianity have blended inseparably since the birth of the oil industry in western Pennsylvania on the eve of the Civil War, and the mixture proved to be complex, caustic and powerful from the start. Dochuk, an associate professor of history, demonstrates how competing religious worldviews among American Protestants fed cutthroat competition in the boardrooms and oilfields — and vice versa. Together, he writes, these forces have flowed into mainstream U.S. culture and politics, shaping everything from environmental debates and foreign relations to the coalitions undergirding our two-party system.
That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell & Universal Salvation, David Bentley Hart (Yale University Press). Universalism, the idea that salvation is not only open to all but assured to all in the end, was broadly accepted by early believers before becoming one of the more contested points of Christian theology. Hart, an Orthodox Christian described by a leading Catholic contemporary as “the most eminent living Anglophone theologian,” weighs in here with a forceful affirmation of the concept, which the former fellow of the University’s Institute for Advanced Study began exploring with a lecture at Notre Dame in 2015. No stranger to big projects — his most recent major splash was his translation of the complete New Testament — Hart explores the question of an eternal hell before offering meditations on God, judgment, personhood and freedom.