"Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God."
This rich and complex book is on one level the summing up of a controversy over a properly Christian, specifically Catholic, view of politics which has pitted the author, a theologian, against certain "neoconservative" thinkers, notably Richard Neuhaus, Michael Novak, and George Weigel. Beyond them, Schindler takes issue with the late Jesuit theologian John Courtney Murray, whose specialty was church-state relations and who is credited with the only original American contribution to the Second Vatican Council—the decree on religious liberty.
Murray is hailed, both in secular and religious circles, for refuting once and for all the idea of the union of church and state, at one time held by almost all religions and abandoned especially late by some Catholics. Murray claimed that the "neutrality" of the American political system makes possible an uninhibited Christian embrace of modern democracy, since neutrality proves to offer the most favorable climate for the development of religion. Schindler, however, considers this neutrality a "con job," arguing that it embodies a secular ideology. Believers are invited to participate in the system without realizing that they are being required to prescind from their faith, to...