BB: I’m interviewing you for CatholicVote? What does this book offer for the American Catholic?
NS: Although Berry comes from the Protestant tradition, his Catholic admirers are struck by the “Catholic imagination” that suffuses his work. Readers will find in his writings an indirect but eloquent defense of many of the principles of Catholic Social Teaching (e.g. the comprehensiveness of the faith, stewardship, subsidiarity, the evils of consumerism, etc.). Our collection includes a number of prominent Catholic contributors, such as Antony Esolen, Anne Husted Burleigh, Patrick Deneen, and William Fahey, who in one way or another bring out these connections. They do so in part by showing how Berry’s fiction offers a concrete embodiment and imaginative elaboration of those principles. The imagination matters greatly for how we live, and art plays an important role in shaping that imagination. Catholics need to take this seriously, not by retreating to crude didactics, but by immersing themselves in great works of literature that inform the moral imagination. Very good artists can imitate evil in art without relying upon sensationalism, but only great artists can imitate goodness without being sentimental. In this respect Berry’s poetry and fiction are singular. They give his readers a taste of goodness that is both wholesome and hard, while providing some inoculation against the false premises of modern culture and liberal utopianism.
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