Royal, Robert 1949-

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Royal, Robert 1949-

PERSONAL:

Born 1949. Education: Brown University, B.A., M.A.; Catholic University of America, Ph.D. Religion: Catholic.

ADDRESSES:

Home—VA. Office—Faith & Reason Institute, 1413 K St. N.W., Ste. 1000, Washington, DC 20005. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER:

Prospect (magazine), Princeton, NJ, editor in chief, 1980-82; Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, DC, former vice president; Faith & Reason Institute, Washington, DC, currently president. Has also taught at Brown University, Rhode Island College, and Catholic University.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Renaissance Society of America fellowship, 1977; Fulbright scholarship, 1978.

WRITINGS:

1492 and All That: Political Manipulations of History, Ethics and Public Policy Center (Washington, DC), 1992.

(Translator) Roberto Papini, The Christian Democrat International, Rowman & Littlefield, 1997.

Dante Alighieri: Divine Comedy, Divine Spirituality, Crossroad (New York, NY), 1999.

The Virgin and the Dynamo: Use and Abuse of Religion in Environmental Debates, Ethics and Public Policy Center (Washington, DC), 1999.

The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History, Crossroad (New York, NY), 2000.

(Translator) Jean-Pierre Torrell, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Volume 1: The Person and His Work, revised edition, Catholic University of America Press (Washington, DC), 2005.

The Pope's Army: 500 Years of the Papal Swiss Guard, Crossroad (New York, NY), 2006.

The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West, Encounter Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including the Washington Post, Washington Times, Catholic Historical Review, National Review, Communio, Wanderer, and First Things. Columnist for Crisis magazine.

EDITOR

(With Mark Falcoff) Crisis and Opportunity: U.S. Policy in Central America and the Caribbean: Thirty Essays by Statesmen, Scholars, Religious Leaders, and Journalists, Ethics and Public Policy Center (Washington, DC), 1984.

Challenge and Response: Critiques of the Catholic Bishops' Draft Letter on the U.S. Economy, Ethics and Public Policy Center (Washington, DC), 1987.

(With Mark Falcoff) The Continuing Crisis: U.S. Policy in Central America and the Caribbean: Thirty Essays by Statesmen, Scholars, Religious Leaders, and Journalists, Ethics and Public Policy Center (Washington, DC), 1987.

(With George Weigel) A Century of Catholic Social Thought: Essays on "Rerum Novarum" and Nine Other Key Documents, foreword by Richard John Neuhaus, afterword by Leonid Kishkovsky, Ethics and Public Policy Center (Washington, DC), 1991.

(With Virgil Nemoianu) The Hospitable Canon: Essays on Literary Play, Scholarly Choice, and Popular Pressures, J. Benjamins (Philadelphia, PA), 1991.

(With Virgil Nemoianu) Play, Literature, Religion: Essays in Cultural Intertextuality, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 1992.

(With George Weigel) Building the Free Society: Democracy, Capitalism, and Catholic Social Teaching, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1993.

Jacques Maritain and the Jews, American Maritain Association (Mishawaka, IN), 1994.

Reinventing the American People: Unity and Diversity Today, Ethics and Public Policy Center (Washington, DC), 1995.

SIDELIGHTS:

A Christian apologist who has worked as a writer, teacher, and think-tank leader, Robert Royal has tried to dispel the negative views against Christians—especially Catholics—many people have formed in modern societies. He also strives to inform people of faith's positive role throughout history and argues that religion should not—and cannot—be supplanted by science and government. The founding president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, DC, Royal explained his organization's mission to Insight on the News interviewer Michael Rust: "We try to look at how faith and reason—which we regard as two ways of human knowing—help us to live our lives both publicly and privately. We are a largely Catholic, but not exclusively Catholic, or even Christian, organization. We try to take a deep look at the way in which religion and culture interact with one another, the way that those have an influence on everything—from politics to movies to the whole panoply of the way culture these days shapes our society. As John Paul II has said, culture is really the driving force of modern society."

"Through the years, Royal has been shown in his writings to be an erudite observer of the links between religion and culture," summarized Rust. Social and political movements in the twentieth century have often worked to create negative views of the role of Christianity in history. In Royal's 1492 and All That: Political Manipulations of History, the author refutes the view that the colonization of the Americas by the Christian West was entirely exploitative. Acknowledging that atrocities were committed following Columbus's discoveries in the Caribbean, Royal points out that once wind of these activities reached the Spanish rulers, they did make efforts to curtail them. National Review critic Wilcomb E. Washburn attested that "the real strength of this book lies in its treatment of the current debate over Columbus."

Addressing the world of literature in Dante Alighieri: Divine Comedy, Divine Spirituality, Royal goes against academic currents to put the spiritual message back into Dante's classic The Divine Comedy. J. Bottum, writing in the Wilson Quarterly, noted that a plethora of books have been written about Dante. Therefore, this new work "should be an entirely unnecessary book. It should be—but it isn't. That's in part because Royal does a fine job of leading readers through the long and difficult poem, but also in part because so few prior commentators seem to believe that Dante meant what he said—that the Divine Comedy is genuinely about the divine." While Bottum was disappointed that Royal uses the inferior Longfellow translation as a source, the reviewer concluded that "in nearly every other way, Royal's Dante Alighieri remains a model of the kind of commentary we need, a first-rate spiritual introduction to the Divine Comedy."

Royal tackles the issue of environmentalism in The Virgin and the Dynamo: Use and Abuse of Religion in Environmental Debates. Contrary to what many radical environmentalists believe about the planet, Royal attempts to explain that the world was not a paradise of ecological balance before mankind arrived. Instead, the planet is a dynamic, ever-changing place in which humanity is only one of many influential factors. "Royal is careful to honor the work of scientists throughout this lucid and sane book," reported Thomas Sieger Derr in First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, "respectfully integrating his theological judgments with their work. In an ambitious, very useful, and blessedly clear chapter, he moves beyond the realm of environmental science to sketch the current state of the conversation between science and religion, paying special attention to physics and cosmology." Agreeing neither with religious fundamentalists nor with extreme environmentalists who romanticize and even sometimes worship nature, Royal recognizes that people influence nature but that the solutions may come from engineering and human know-how, as well as a faith in mankind to adapt and survive. This results in a work that "is done with admirable modesty and a healthy regard for the uncertainty of many scientific judgments," concluded Derr.

The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History and The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West are two books that try to awaken readers' awareness of Christian history. In the former, Royal boldly states that more Christians were persecuted, tortured, and killed in the twentieth century than in any time before that, something that likely "comes as both a shock and a surprise" to most people, according to James V. Schall in Perspectives on Political Science. To back up his claim, the author provides documented examples from all over the world, ranging from 1920s Mexico to present-day India. Booklist contributor Margaret Flanagan called the work an "eloquent, painstakingly researched tribute" to those who died for their faith. Some reviewers were disappointed that Royal often focuses on martyrs who are Catholic, paying little attention to Protestant, Orthodox, and other Christians, but Lawrence S. Cunningham stated in Commonweal: "Royal has provided a wealth of factual material and for that we should be grateful."

In The God That Did Not Fail, Royal argues that many people have rejected or forgotten Christianity in favor of secular humanism, but religion continues to be a vital part of Western civilization. "Royal offers a judicious, urbane, synoptic account of the formative influence of religion—and Christianity in particular—on Western civilization from the Greeks to the present," summarized John Wilson in Christianity Today. Calling the work a "deeply learned yet highly readable account," First Things contributor Ryan T. Anderson appreciated Royal's message that "only if the West rediscovers its true history will we be able to move beyond the limits of our current postmodern myopia."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, spring, 1999, R. James Long, review of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Volume 1, The Person and His Work.

American Ethnologist, February 1, 1997, Phyllis Pease Chock, review of Reinventing the American People: Unity and Diversity Today, p. 237.

Anglican Journal, May 1, 2000, review of Virgin and the Dynamo: Use and Abuse of Religion in Environmental Debate, p. 11.

Booklist, April 15, 1999, Steven Schroeder, review of The Virgin and the Dynamo, p. 1489; July 1, 2000, Margaret Flanagan, review of The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History, p. 1979.

California Bookwatch, October 1, 2006, review of The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West; December 1, 2006, reviews of The God That Did Not Fail and The Pope's Army: 500 Years of the Papal Swiss Guard.

Catholic Historical Review, July 1, 1993, Stafford Poole, review of 1492 and All That: Political Manipulations of History, p. 501; October 1, 1996, Ralph McInerny, review of Jacques Maritain and the Jews, p. 672; January 1, 2002, Vincent A. Lapomarda, review of The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century, p. 102.

Catholic Insight, April 1, 2001, Leonard A. Kennedy, review of The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century, p. 40.

Choice, December 1, 1994, S.D. Armus, review of Jacques Maritain and the Jews, p. 615; February 1, 2001, R.W. Rousseau, review of The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century, p. 1099.

Christian Century, November 4, 1992, review of 1492 and All That, p. 1010.

Christianity Today, September 6, 1999, "New and Noteworthy: Christianity and Culture," p. 107; December 1, 2006, John Wilson, review of The God That Did Not Fail, p. 62.

Commonweal, May 3, 1996, Patrick J. Deneen, review of Reinventing the American People, p. 25; September 22, 2000, Lawrence S. Cunningham, review of The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century, p. 26.

Cross Currents, winter, 1992, Patrick McCormick, review of A Century of Catholic Social Thought: Essays on "Rerum Novarum" and Nine Other Key Documents.

First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, August 1, 1999, Thomas Sieger Derr, review of The Virgin and the Dynamo, p. 63; April 1, 2001, Alicia Mosier, review of The Catholic Martyrs of Twentieth Century, p. 48; March 1, 2007, Ryan T. Anderson, review of The God That Did Not Fail, p. 53.

History: Review of New Books, summer, 2006, William P. Saunders, review of The Pope's Army.

Insight on the News, July 24, 2000, "Royal Bears Witness to Century's Martyrs," interview with Robert Royal, p. 36.

International Affairs, September 22, 1989, Nicola Miller, review of The Continuing Crisis: U.S. Policy in Central America and the Caribbean, p. 776.

Isis, December 1, 2002, Colin A. Russell, "Eyewitness: Evolution of the Atmospheric Sciences," p. 750; December 1, 2002, review of The Virgin and the Dynamo, p. 750.

Journal of Church and State, September 22, 1992, Rupert J. Ederer, review of A Century of Catholic Social Thought, p. 870; January 1, 1995, Richard C. Bayer, review of Building the Free Society: Democracy, Capitalism, and Catholic Social Teaching, p. 164.

Journal of Religion, January 1, 1994, Mark Krupnick, review of Play, Literature, Religion: Essays in Cultural Textuality, p. 145.

Library Journal, November 1, 1992, William F. Young, review of 1492 and All That, p. 102; July 1, 2000, John-Leonard Berg, review of The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century, p. 101; July 1, 2006, Pius Charles Murray, review of The God That Did Not Fail, p. 86.

National Catholic Reporter, March 23, 2001, "Parish Gathers List of Martyrs," p. 4.

National Review, November 2, 1992, Wilcomb E. Washburn, review of 1492 and All That, p. 65.

New York Review of Books, June 24, 1993, J.H. Elliott, review of 1492 and All That, p. 36.

New York Times, September 9, 1984, Pamela S. Falk, review of Crisis and Opportunity: U.S. Policy in Central America and the Caribbean, p. 31.

New York Times Book Review, September 9, 1984, Pamela S. Falk, review of Crisis and Opportunity, p. 31.

Perspectives on Political Science, fall, 2000, James V. Schall, review of The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century.

Publishers Weekly, June 26, 2000, review of The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century, p. 71; June 26, 2000, "Catholic Issues," p. 71.

Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, April 1, 1999, Joseph Wawrykow, review of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Volume 1: The Person and His Work, p. 518.

Times Literary Supplement, October 20, 2006, Keith Miller, review of The Pope's Army, p. 32.

Washington Post, December 24, 2000, "Lives on the Line," p. 3.

Wilson Quarterly, September 22, 1999, J. Bottum, review of Dante Alighieri: Divine Comedy, Divine Spirituality, p. 122.