The collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe--the Revolution of 1989--was a singularly stunning event in a century already known for the unexpected. How did people divided for two generations by an Iron Curtain come so suddenly to dance together atop the Berlin Wall? Why did people who had once seemed resigned to their fate suddenly take their future into their own hands? Some analysts have explained the Revolution in economic terms, arguing that the Warsaw Pact countries could no longer compete with the West. But as George Weigel argues in this thought-provoking volume, people don't put their lives, and their children's futures, in harm's way simply for better cars, refrigerators, and TVs. Something else--something more--had to happen behind the iron curtain before the Wall came tumbling down.
In The Final Revolution, Weigel argues that that "something" was a revolution of conscience. The human turn to the good, to the truly human, and, ultimately, to God, was the key to the political Revolution of 1989. Weigel provides an in-depth exploration of how the Catholic Church shaped the moral revolution inside the political revolution. Drawing on extensive interviews with key leaders of the human rights and resistance movements, he opens a unique window into the soul of the Revolution and into the hearts and minds of those who shaped this stirring vindication of the human spirit. Weigel also examines the central role played by Pope John Paul II in confronting what Václav Havel called communism's "culture of the lie," and he suggests what the future role of the Church might be in consolidating democracy in the countries of the old Warsaw Pact.
The "final revolution" is not the end of history, Weigel concludes. It is the human quest for a freedom that truly satisfies the deepest yearnings of the human heart. The Final Revolution illustrates how that quest changed the face of the twentieth century and redefined world politics in the year of miracles, 1989.
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From Publishers Weekly:
About the Author:
George Weigel is President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington DC. A graduate of St. Mary's Seminary and University of Baltimore and the University of St. Michael's College in Toronto, he is the author of editor of twelve books on religion and public life, and is in frequent demand as a lecturer, columnist, and media commentator on American politics, foreign policy, and Catholic affairs.
"What Lenin started at Petrograd's Finland Station on April 16, 1917 . . . Pope John Paul II began to dismantle . . . on June 4, 1979" with his celebration of the first pontifical Mass in a Communist country, an event Weigel ( Peace and Freedom ) views as the fulcrum of the Revolution of 1989. Quoting the likes of Polish Jewish dissident Adam Michnik to augment his thesis that the pope's 1979 visit to Poland was a "national plebiscite" which coalesced the "we" of society against "them," Weigel argues that that pilgrimage was the turning point in the confrontation between Communism and Catholicism which he deems one of the great ideological and institutional struggles of the century. Disappointingly, he is more proselytizer than historian as he tracks the Vatican's ost pol i tik with the Kremlin going back to Pius XI, a significant subject that has yet to be comprehensively addressed. Most controversial are Weigel's defense of the Church's pro-life position on abortion and his criticism of the international peace movement for focusing on nuclear weapons rather than on human rights. Concentrating on Poland, with minor coverage of Czechoslovakia, Weigel recreates many stirring occasions, such as the "Great Novena" of 1957-1966 when the Church toured the frame of the revered Black Madonna in every parish instead of the icon itself, as planned, because the government kept that under house arrest at Czestochowa (the author does not explain why the Church was not forbidden to tour the frame as well). The novena ushered in the millennium celebration of Polish Christianity, a celebration the regime denied Pope Paul VI a visa to attend.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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