Meet a Reader (and Writer): John Kelly

Here is the monthly feature from this weekend’s print edition of The Catholic Post called “Meet a Reader.”  As I do from time to time, I feature a local author in these pages as well.  Thanks so much to John Kelly for agreeing to be featured in The Post and for sharing about his new book, The Other Law of Moses.


How you know me:  I was born in Peoria.  I attended St. Thomas grade school & Bergan High.  I’ve been in the financial services industry for thirty-six years.  I am widowed from Nancy and married to Amy.  We have four grown children and one grandchild.  I’m still active in my parish (St. Thomas), and Amy and I have headed up our parish’s Great Adventure Bible Studies for the last six years.  I’ve also been active in the Cursillo, and in the Diocesan Vocation Support Group.  Amy teaches at Holy Family School in Peoria.  I enjoy reading as well as writing.  Last January, I published my first book, The Other Law of Moses. I have also published several articles about the intersection between our faith and practical, widespread prosperity.

Why I love reading:  I enjoy both fiction and non-fiction, but I like non-fiction best.  It might be history, politics, biography or Catholicism, but I’m usually into a book that will broaden me, and hopefully challenge me.  There is so much to learn, and I believe the answers to most of our problems are already out there.  On the other hand, I also enjoy a good mystery or thriller, or even poetry. Perhaps another reason I love reading is that I love to see what truly talented wordsmiths can do with our wonderful language.

What I’m reading now:   True to form, it’s non-fiction.  I’m in the middle of Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.  I just finished The True Gold Standard by Lewis Lehrman, the author of Lincoln at Peoria.  Before that, it was Father Robert Sirico’s excellent book, Defending the Free Market – The Moral Case for a Free Economy.

My book:  I wrote The Other Law of Moses about the economic Law inside the Law of Moses, and how well that great, but mostly unknown gift, worked.  The Law brought about great general prosperity, and made ancient Israel the world’s first middle-class nation.  The book follows God’s people through their cycles of compliance and non-compliance with the “Land Law,” as I call it.  I even suggest that Jesus spoke of this Law often; that his followers understood what he was saying about it, but that we do not.  The ending highlights the uncommon prosperity many places in the world enjoy where parts of this Law are practiced.  Surprisingly, these places are unaware of the ancient pedigree their successful economic rules have.

My favorite books:  Progress and Poverty by Henry George, written in 1879, is at the top of my list.  Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy is also up there.  More recent favorites are Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. The surprises and answers in the Bible continue to astound me.  And the list would not be complete without Michael Novak’s excellent The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.