Surprised! The unthinkable comes true.
Last week, George Weigel, a NY Times Bestseller and a regular commentator for CBS recommended Journeys with a Tin Can Pilgrim by Lynda Rozell. Our book was listed in his Christmas letter on books to read over the Christmas holidays, and in the letter, our little publishing company was listed.
The letter was also shared in First Things, the leading journal aiming to advance a religiously informed public philosophy.
My first real job in Washington D.C. was working as a research assistant at the premier institute of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC). The same think tank where George was the Distinguished Senior Fellow. I started at EPPC when George was in the midst of writing what was to become the definitive biography on Pope John Paul II.
As one of America’s leading public intellectuals and Catholic Theologians, George could be quite intimidating for a mere research assistant. In general, EPPC was an intimidating place because I had not been a philosophy or a history major. And I was now in the throes of assisting great scholars with their bodies for work. The mission of EPPC is “to apply the riches of “the Judeo-Christian tradition to contemporary questions of law, culture, and politics, in pursuit of America’s continued civic and cultural renewal.”
At EPPC, I developed a love for the underpinnings of how history, philosophy, and law influence the direction of society.
Author in Action
Starting out at EPPC, I would see George walking deep in thought. He was focusing on completing the 1,056 page book on Pope John Paul and had a strict deadline. The goal was to get it out by Christmas 1999, in time for the millennia. There was very little wriggle room for pauses.
Ever Horan Johnson, my friend, and colleague was George’s pacesetter. She was George’s research assistant, and one of her many roles was to help ensure George made the writing goals for the day. Ever was also accomplished with four languages under her belt. Prior to EPPC, she had been an intern at the US embassy in Iceland and at the Vatican.
Seeing them work together was a valuable learning experience on how to write a book. Goals were broken down into small bite-sized pieces. Many times passing by Ever’s office, I could hear George exclaim with pride to Ever when he had reached the goal of the day.
At times George would look up from his deep thoughts to go to daily Mass with Ever sometimes joining him.
One day, Ever invited me to come along, and we went across the street to the Catholic Information Center chapel for Mass. The break from the daily bustle of life to be in stillness and prayer for 20 minutes became a habit. This habit resulted in weekly instructions by Father Michael Curtin and ended with officially entering the Catholic Church on December 5, 1998, in a small ceremony at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. I had the privilege of George Weigel reading at the ceremony. Ever was my sponsor with other luminaries such as Michael Uhlmann and Dr. Robert Royal celebrating this occasion.
Life seems to come full circle.
And now, George reviewed one of my books. I am honored and know if it had not been for the Author Lynda telling her story far and wide, George would not have gotten our book in his hands to read.
Looking back, I realize st. john’s press’ founding principles are very much influenced from my time at t EPPC. At EPPC, I learned about the importance of beauty of friendship, faith. And lastly how words and philosophy can change the direction of society.