Tell Me Why: A Father Answers His Daughter's Questions About God

A father and daughter exchange e-mails on God, churches, sex, and modern moods.


Hailed as a new classic in faith exploration, this remarkable book offers a rare chance to eavesdrop on a conversation between a believing father and a skeptical daughter about God, faith, and morals. World-renowned theologian Michael Novak accepts a unique challenge when his twenty-something daughter Jana sends him a long fax filled with practical questions about life and religion.

His answers -- warm, wise, and unfaltering -- serve as guideposts to faith at a critical time in his daughter's life. For her part, Jana is not interested in a scholarly essay but in straight and honest replies; she challenges what she doesn't understand, and she never hesitates to bat back an answer she doesn't like. 

The result is a lively, thought-provoking dialogue that addresses the concerns of Jana's generation while also taking on the questions of the ages -- from the purpose of religion in our lives, to how "good" must a Christian be, to the problems of suffering, compassion, and the existence of God. Enacting as it does the difficult passing on of a noble tradition, Tell Me Why offers an illuminating path for anyone searching to embrace or deepen their faith.

Published: September 1, 1998


“Michael Novak is a national treasure, and this book reminds us once again why. In the finest tradition of C.S. Lewis and other great defenders of faith, Tell Me Why is a stirring and stimulating discussion of every person’s need for a relationship with God and His church in a secular age.”

Ralph Reed
Century Strategies


“One of the most entrancing and absorbing conversations in the long history of the human dialogue about God. Michael Novak shows how theology can be a searchlight illuminating the truths not just of faith, but of the whole rich range of human relationships and experiences, in language that is both eloquent and uplifting. Jana Novak is an interlocutor tougher than Socrates’ star pupil, who challenges her father to marvelous heights of inspiration and insight. Tell Me Why is nourishment for the soul—a book to cherish and share with your loved ones.”

Patrick Glynn
Author, God: The Evidence


“I cannot think of a more agreeable way to acquire an education in religion, philosophy, and morality.”

Gertrude Himmelfarb


“Michael Novak takes on the honest and probing questions of his daughter, whose doubts are those of many young and sophisticated Americans. His answers—sympathetic, wise, and lucid—exemplify an unflinching faith that is hospitable to reason and argument. The book adds a new milestone to the tradition….”

Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J.
Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society
Fordham University


“Read this book, ponder it, grapple with it. It is well argued and well worth arguing with. There are not enough books like this anymore.”

Michael Cromartie, Senior Fellow
Ethics and Public Policy Center


“… a classic of Christian apologetics and faith exploration. It is a model dialogue of honesty and respect.”

Rev. Robert A. Sirico
The Acton Institute


“Tell Me Why is a splendid book which rebels against any conventional classification. Obviously, it is a superb apologetic work. But it is also an interesting photograph of the perplexities of an age—our age—that Jana knows how to isolate, define, and propose. The merit then of Michael Novak is to enter fully into this era with the sensibility to illuminate, correct and improve it. Tell Me Why is a classic of good sense. It deserves to be read.”

Joaquin Navarro-Valls
Director, Holy See Press Office


“‘Tell Me Why’ offers a priceless experience to discerning readers… All parents—and children—of every religious community can gain from this wise and eloquent book”.

Michael Medved
Author, Film Critic


“I wish I could have had this book for myself, family and friends many years ago.”

Harlan F. Harmsen
CPA/Tax Attorney, San Diego (ret.)