The National Catholic Review

Culture

November 2014

  • November 19, 2014

    The study of Catholic women religious is “hot.” Academic and non-academic writers, documentary filmmakers and the media are producing and publishing materials in record numbers highlighting the lives and work of American Catholic sisters/nuns. Even funding agencies and foundations are beginning to open their pockets (just slightly) to support academics and independent scholars who are pursuing the many narratives that trace the historical and contemporary lives and activities of Catholic sisters both in the United States and abroad.

  • November 19, 2014

    The struggle to form and sustain relationships is a universal experience. The struggle to understand the existence of black holes, less so. So it makes sense that The Theory of Everything, a new biopic about Stephen Hawking, the physicist and cosmologist, puts more focus on his love life than on the scientific theories that made him famous.

  • November 12, 2014

    History happens. In 1960 as John F. Kennedy ran for President, I headed to graduate school to study American political history. J.F.K. enchanted me; after that no president won my heart. Catholicism filtered—sometimes shaped—my judgments about politics and presidents. And, I have to admit, my judgments about politics and presidents sometimes filtered my understanding of faith and my judgments about my church. The dialogue of faith and culture, so beloved by theologians, was for me a bit of a wrestling match. Lawrence J.

  • November 12, 2014

    Gerald O’Collins, S.J., has written a delightful memoir on his years in Rome at the Gregorian University. With Rome’s history in mind, he shares a series of personal and touching stories to explain the matrix that generated his theological and spiritual writings. Yet they communicate not only one man’s experience but represent the essences of persons and institutions, what the sociologist Max Weber called “types.” I advise anyone in Rome to get to know a priest of O’Collins’s type.

  • November 12, 2014

    Father Jim O’Brien, an Irish priest in the northern English shipbuilding town of Wallsend, is supposed to preach on the passage about the “salt of the earth” in Matthew’s Gospel, but he has got something else on his mind. Setting the Scripture aside, he directly addresses his flock: working men and their families, who yearn for the return of meaningful paid employment to their all-but-closed-down burgh.

  • November 11, 2014

    A precious manuscript teaches us not only by its words and images but by its very life as an historical object. A prime example is the Crusader Bible, which is briefly being displayed with its leaves untypically separated before being rebound at its home in New York City’s Morgan Library. (The exhibition will live beyond its close on Jan.

  • November 5, 2014

    A friend who sits in the legislature of my home state, Washington, recently told me he was thinking about sponsoring a bill calling for a constitutional convention and asked me what I thought. Although the framers provided for this process to amend our charter of government, throughout American history all attempts to make that happen have failed to garner the requisite support from two-thirds of the states. Most thoughtful observers have feared that this meeting might open up a constitutional can of worms.

  • November 5, 2014

    Walk into the exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, and you find yourself surrounded by more than a hundred images that dance and sing, swim and squirm—not to mention the lithe contortions of the acrobats and the antics of the circus performers. Composed of paper shapes set out in ravishing color combinations, Matisse’s cut-outs, on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City through Feb. 8, 2015, are stunningly lyrical and uplifting.

  • November 5, 2014

    These two books have at first sight little in common, other than the fact that they are written by two prominent Jesuit theologians. In Spirituality Seeking Theology, Roger Haight, S.J., attempts to reach behind or beneath established Christian doctrines of creation, incarnation, trinity and eschatology to bring out the original and enduring spiritual meaning and intention of such doctrinal formulations. The book is not, as one might think, an attempt to discover a generic spirituality which would be distinct from or opposed to “religion.”

  • November 5, 2014

    Do we need another book about F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)? He wrote only four novels and dozens of short stories, a small body of work that has spawned a dozen biographies, countless academic books and articles as well as several films of The Great Gatsby and his other fiction. If this fine interpretation by John Irwin, a lifelong teacher of Fitzgerald in American literature courses at Johns Hopkins, were just another overview, I would say no.