Kraynak, Robert P. 1949-
Kraynak, Robert P. 1949-
PERSONAL: Born May 24, 1949, in Allentown, PA; son of George (an engineer) and Sophia (a homemaker) Kraynak; married Sandra M. Guarino, June 11, 1983; children: Robert, Jr., Katherine, Andrew, Daniel. Ethnicity: "Slovak-American." Education: Cornell University, B.A., 1971; Harvard University, Ph.D. (government), 1978. Politics: "Conservative Republican." Religion: Roman Catholic.
ADDRESSES: Office—Colgate University, Department of Political Science, Hamilton, NY 13346. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Educator and author. Colgate University, Hamilton, NY, professor of political science, 1978-. Military service: U.S. Army Reserves, 1971-77.
Christian Faith and Modern Democracy: God and Politics in the Fallen World, University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, IN), 2001.
In Defense of Human Dignity, University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, IN), 2003.
WORK IN PROGRESS: From Thomas to Finnis: The Evolution of Catholic Natural Laws.
SIDELIGHTS: In 2001 political philosophy professor Robert P. Kraynak published Christian Faith and Modern Democracy: God and Politics in the Fallen World, an examination of contemporary religious and political thought. In the work Kraynak asks, "Do Christianity and modern liberal democracy share a common moral vision, or are they opposed and even hostile to each other?" As James B. Williams stated in History, "The central issue of Christian Faith and Modern Democracy concerns the compatibility of modern natural rights philosophy (and the politics that flows therefrom) with Christianity."
Christian Faith and Modern Democracy received generally favorable reviews. In Perspectives on Political Science, Paul Seaton remarked, "Believers and unbelievers could benefit from an open-minded consideration of Kraynak's arguments concerning democracy, the Church, and the human soul." Christopher Beem, however, writing in the Journal of Religion, stated that the author "gravely understates the moral issues involved and belittles the achievements of a democratic, rights-based culture." In First Things, Damon Linker observed that "Kraynak rightly reminds us that the fate of Christianity—let alone that of individual Christians—cannot be the same as that of democracy in America." In further praising the historian's work, Seaton concluded, "Kraynak raises the right topics and issues for our inspection, and in a democratically and liberty-obsessed age, he provides genuine alternatives and genuine food for thought."
Kraynak told CA: "I am a conservative critic of modernity—someone who questions the idea of historical progress; someone who wonders if our progress in freedom, material prosperity, and technology has really made us happier and improved our souls. I have been deeply influenced by Leo Strauss, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and St. Augustine. Their writings have given me a critical perspective on democracy, liberalism, and the diluted versions of Christianity that we take for granted in the modern world. My own writings are intended to uncover the hidden assumptions of modern civilization and to encourage people to recover many of the traditional ideas of philosophy, religion, and politics that have been lost but offer the best way to elevate and redeem the human soul."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kraynak, Robert P., Christian Faith and Modern Democracy: God and Politics in the Fallen World, University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, IN), 2001.
First Things, November, 2001, Damon Linker, review of Christian Faith and Modern Democracy: God and Politics in the Fallen World, pp. 56-61.
History: Review of New Books, summer, 2002, James B. Williams, review of Christian Faith and Modern Democracy, p. 178.
Journal of Religion, April, 2003, Christopher Beem, review of Christian Faith and Modern Democracy, pp. 290-292.
Perspectives on Political Science, fall, 2002, Paul Seaton, review of Christian Faith and Modern Democracy, pp. 247-248.