The Call: The Spiritual Realism of Sargent Shriver
by Jamie Price
$11.49 (Kindle); $22.00 (Paperback)
The Call looks at the role of the spirit in the life and work of one of the most accomplished American peacebuilders of the 20th twentieth century, Robert Sargent Shriver (1915-2011), founder of the Peace Corps and architect of the War on Poverty. Author Jamie Price knew Shriver personally and served as the Founding Director of several programs dedicated to understanding and advancing Shriver’s approach to leadership and peacebuilding.
The Call is an imagined dialogue between Sargent Shriver and the character of Didymus about the role of the spirit in Shriver’s efforts to build peace. Its title alludes to the pivotal moment when Shriver received the phone call from his brother-in-law, the newly-inaugurated President John F. Kennedy, asking him to be Director of the as-yet-nonexistent Peace Corps. This “true conversation that never happened”, informed by Shriver’s hundreds of speeches, philosophers and theologians who inspired him, and conversations between Shriver and the author, is an intimate, unique, often funny exchange about the inner workings of a mind always questioning the relationship between spirit and social action. A must-read for aspiring leaders, innovators, and peacebuilders seeking to redress contemporary challenges to human dignity and security, The Call invites readers to navigate conflict and nurture human connection with creativity and compassion.
Since Jamie Price’s background is in philosophy, he’s drawing on the Socratic tradition to convey Sargent Shriver’s approach. Jamie refers to it as a “true conversation that never happened”. Sargent Shriver’s voice is reconstructed from his speeches and from past conversations that Jamie had with Sarge. Didymus is fictional. The name Didymus is connected to the name “Thomas”, as in the apostle Thomas, who doubted that Jesus had risen from death and asked for proof. Jamie says that Sargent Shriver referred to Thomas as “empirical Thomas” rather than “doubting Thomas” because he sought out facts to confirm what he was being told. The idea is that Didymus is looking up to Sargent Shriver as a mentor and wants to understand in detail what motivated Sargent Shriver and how he was able to do what he did.
Jamie Price is the Founding Director of the Sargent Shriver Peace Institute, which he led for its first twenty years. He has held faculty positions in religion, philosophy, and conflict resolution at Georgia State University, The Catholic University of America, George Mason University, and the University of Chicago. Jamie lives and works in New York City.
Charles Hefling taught theology, philosophy, and Great Books for thirty years as a professor at Boston College. He has translated and edited works of Bernard Lonergan and served as Editor-in-Chief of The Anglican Theological Review. His most recent book is The Book of Common Prayer: A Guide (Oxford, 2021). Charles lives and works in Cambridge, Massachusetts.