After many years of writing, researching and revising, Dr. David Bovee, assistant professor of history at Fort Hays State University, has published his book, "The Church and the Land: The National Catholic Rural Life Conference and American Society." The book was recently published by Catholic University of America Press.
The book's 15 chapters relate the history of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and its roles in American society. The NCRLC, founded in 1927, "assumed the prophetic role of the Church and urged Americans to adopt rural life policies that it believed were called for by Christian values."
Bovee's book focuses on the ideas, purposes and accomplishments of the rural Catholic leaders, beginning with the settlement of Catholics in rural America and including chapters on the formation of the NCRLC, the impact of the Great Depression on the Conference and much more.
Bovee said he wrote the book for several reasons.
"The book shows how moral and religious values can be applied to society," said Bovee. "It is often assumed that religion and morality are personal and private and do not apply to issues of the wider society, but I do not believe that is true. Religions have broader social components and I try to show that in my book."
Bovee said he also wanted to show how an organization changes over time.
"In the case examined in my book," he said, "the National Catholic Rural Life Conference remained devoted to the same Catholic values throughout its existence but responded to different issues over time as American society changed: to weak rural religious institutions and anti-Catholic prejudice in the 1920s, to the economic problems of the Great Depression in the 1930s, to war refugees in the 1940s, to the needs of developing countries in the 1950s, to the War on Poverty in the 1960s, to the family farm crisis in the 1980s, and to environmental issues since the 1970s."
Beginning work on his book in the 1980s, Bovee finished the book with the help of a summer research grant from FHSU.
"The book tells the story of many dedicated men and women who labored to improve conditions for rural families and, in a broader sense, for all people." said Bovee, "Everyone is affected by the food grown in rural areas and by the rural environment."
Bovee, who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1986, has been at FHSU since 2005.