The National Catholic Review

Culture

March 2015

  • March 27, 2015

    I grew up in Omaha, the youngest in a large Catholic family. We belonged to the Jewish Community Center, where I took swimming lessons in its bleak and echoing indoor pool. I failed Beginners three times. I never made it to Minnows. I thought I would never properly learn to swim. It was a dark time.

    This hasn’t much at all to do with a poetry review.

  • March 25, 2015

    A basic Dante bibliography would now run in excess of 50,000 items; something new appears on the list every day. So why would Prue Shaw add yet another introduction, albeit one with a droll cinematic subtitle, to the Divine Comedy?—because she holds that the “sacred poem,” notwithstanding what she calls its antiquated theology and erroneous science, illumines the individual’s role in society and the cosmos, even for readers who do not share Dante’s medieval Catholicism or his “hierarchical and judgmental” view of good and evil actions.

  • March 24, 2015

    Hell. Not a location we care to dwell in, though dwelling on it has occupied no small amount of time, or words, or dreadful words, since poets started studying perdition. Dante, most famously and with an immortal amount of detail, described nine circles of calibrated agony, advising the hell-bound to abandon all hope.

  • March 18, 2015

    We have selected books which represent emerging approaches in biblical studies, including the use of models from trauma studies, diaspora studies and migration studies. One thing leading to another, attention to trauma and to migration raises issues of social justice and poverty.

  • March 18, 2015

    Surfing through today’s popular television series—“Game of Thrones,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Walking Dead,” “Sons of Anarchy”—one is met with a litany of ridiculously masculine men. It is as if the goal of every critically acclaimed series is to make Ernest Hemingway and Norman Mailer look like wimps. Call the Midwife is a welcome deviation from this trend. Now in its fourth season on PBS, “Call the Midwife” is first and foremost a series about women.

  • March 11, 2015

    Something is stirring among young Catholics. Two recent texts demonstrate two possible options. Matthew Fox and Adam Bucko see a mass youth exodus from organized religion leading to a new, emancipatory spirituality, while Chris Haw finds the specificity of Catholicism oddly liberating.

  • March 11, 2015

    When I entered the Jesuits in 1966 at the age of 18, I could never have imagined that I would spend a great deal of my ministry as a choreographer and teacher of dance. Although I had always loved to dance and to create dances, I had not had an opportunity to study dance formally. It would never have crossed my mind that it would be the Society of Jesus that would give me the opportunity to use this hidden talent for the greater glory of God.

  • March 11, 2015

    Since the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), Christ has been said to be present in the Eucharist by way of a substantial conversion, or transubstantiation, of bread and wine into his body and blood. The doctrinal tradition, particularly as reflected in Thomas Aquinas, applied concepts such as substance and accidents, cause and effect, derived from scholastic metaphysics. This language has become increasingly obscure in cultures no longer familiar with medieval metaphysics.

  • March 4, 2015

    Twice this year, in separate assignments to Africa, I have been confronted with the issue of generational leadership.

  • March 4, 2015

    Recommending any novel is a hard sell in our smart phone-addled culture, but how about a 620-page doorstop about early onset Alzheimer’s? A book with no high drama or plot twists or (dare I say) any lasting insights into the human condition, but rather merely a story about an ordinary family dealing with this horrific disease? Where faith offers little or no consolation?

  • March 4, 2015

    Imagine the climate-change debate as a Wagnerian opera, and what we are hearing now—as Pope Francis prepares his encyclical on the environment—is  the overture: the rising and swelling of clangorous themes and motifs, i.e., talking points, about a socialist pope and a leftist church, all of which will set the stage for a full-throated assault on the integrity of the papacy, a chorus of faux-theological rebukes, Rick Santorum carrying a spear and, ultimately, the bluntest attack on Rome since the Visigoths were at its gates.

  • March 4, 2015

    Using an upturned chair as a makeshift pulpit on the front porch of his house, Richard John Neuhaus, age 5, early established himself as a preacher, instructing his 3-year-old sister, Johanna, in the articles faith. Through the rest of a long career as a Lutheran pastor, Catholic priest, author, editor and public intellectual, he never left the pulpit. His message, however, took some surprising turns: from left-wing crusader with Daniel Berrigan, S.J., in the anti-war movement, to apologist for George W.