“And if we will put our collective powers of imagination to work, harness them to our deepest desires, squeeze our eyes tightly shut, cross our fingers, and whisper the incantation Society-of-Catholic-Social-Scientists, then trust me, the very work will appear in three large, well-crafted hardback volumes. I’m referring to the Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy edited by Michael Coulter, Stephen Krason, Richard Myers, and Joseph Varacalli. The publisher is Scarecrow Press.
“In addition, you will have to go to a good library or pay $234.10. But it is worth either the trip or the dollars, or both.
“The Encyclopedia was originally published in two volumes in 2007 totaling about 1200 oversize pages, but a third “Supplement” volume of about 400 pages was just published in 2012. Now, holding the first volume in my hands and flipping open to a random page, I find myself in the section devoted to the letter “F”. Early in this section there are so many entries on different aspects of the family that I need to scan ahead a little to give you an idea of the variety. Besides, it would be unbecoming to linger over the entry on “Faith & Reason” which was, after all, an academic journal I founded in 1975. (I can say that the entry is accurate. It even brought things to mind that I had forgotten.) So let us skip forward a few pages.
“Starting with an entry on Feminism, we find another on Feminism in the Church. Then we learn of William Frederick Joseph Ferree, SM (an influential social justice scholar of the mid-twentieth century), followed by Fides et Ratio (John Paul II’s encyclical from 1998), which in turn is followed by St. Lucy FIlippini (a social reformer and foundress who lived from 1672 to 1732). Then we can linger over an entry on Film (starting in the 1890s) before going on to John Mitchell Finnis, the outstanding Australian legal and ethical philosopher born in 1940. The next entry focuses on Thomas Fitzsimmons, the merchant-statesman and friend of George Washington at the time of the American Revolution. And Fitzsimmons, as you might imagine, brings us to the very brink of Foreign Policy.”