Humanum: Issues in Family, Culture and Science

detail taken from the Palermo Annunciation of Antonello da MessinaI recently discovered the existence of Humanum when a re-tweet by a friend announced the publication of its second issue focusing on the children of divorce.  I am reading my way through this, its second issue, and finding that I like it very much.  Humanum is published by the Center for Cultural and Pastoral Research at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America.

Humanum is a book review journal focusing on a single topic in each issue but choosing books across a range of disciplines. Each book is summarized and assessed first according to the practices and standards of its own academic discipline.  Each review takes a step back to consider the book within a theological framework, a Christian view of reality. This second step often reveals the ways in which assumptions grounded in modern culture – assumptions so prevalent as to become invisible to the researcher – have shaped the understanding of the findings or their presentation.  The result is a much fuller and more useful review.

Humanum also takes a broad approach to the books it chooses to review.  I was surprised to see a review of a textbook – Intimate Relationships – as these are usually published only in journals like Teaching Sociology. As it happens, I know this book – I considered it for my Family and Society course. Reviewing a textbook from the theological perspective of the John Paul II Institute is a good way to participate in the discussion about cultural assumptions by examining one of the ways they are passed along in our educational system.

I am glad for this opportunity to consider so many books on a single topic – those I have read and those I have not – and to do so from the perspective of a Christian anthropology.

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