The National Catholic Review
The Editors
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Every year the editors are asked to submit their nominations for the Catholic Press Association magazine awards. This year, we decided to share some of our choices with our online readers. Here are some (but by no means all!) of our favorite pieces from last year:

Editorial

"Housecleaning" (February 22): Working class families should not have to abandon their dream of a new home because of the housing market debacle, the editors argue.
 
"The Millstone" (April 11): A call for the church to respond to the burgeoning sexual abuse crisis with the urgency it demands.
 
"The Sisters’ Witness" (April 26): An encomium to the women religious who used their considerable moral influence to help pass the healthcare reform bill.
 
"Pilgrim People I" (May 10): A reminder that even in high places we Catholics are in the company of sinners as well as saints.
 
"Give Labor Its Day" (August 30): Corporate profits, the editors write, cannot in justice be made at the expense of the nation's labor force.

Feature Article

In "Cul-de-Sac Catholicism" (Web only, April 12) Nicholas P. Cafardi mounts a strong critique of the U.S. bishops' campaign to defeat the health-care reform bill, arguing that the bishops must trust "the informed consciences of the laity" when it comes to solving political problems.
 
Gerard Powers, in “The Nuclear Ethics Gap” (May 17), shows that disarmament depends not only on international political strategy, but also on “can-do” ethical attitudes, like the moral obligation to disarm nuclear arsenals and to build peace.

"The Catholic Schools We Need" (Sept. 13) by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan is a rallying cry to shore up the parochial school system in the United States and a refutation of the claim that this responsibility lies only with the parents of Catholic school children.  

Few economists can explain for laypeople the complex factors at work during a jobless recession. But Charles K. Wilber’s article, "Awakening the Giant" (Oct. 18), calmly unravels the role of the national debt in relation to the role of stimulus.
 
In “Catholics As Citizens” (Nov. 1) M. Cathleen Kaveny illustrates how a Catholic can use the social ethical tradition for discernment on a real-life issue like voting for a political candidate. To discuss “cooperation with evil,” she considers several possible ways of voting and how the ethics works in each.

Faith in Focus

"A Season of Grace" (March 15): Christopher M. Bellito's refection offers a moving reflection on learning to trust God in tough times.

"Seeding Cyberspace" (May 10): Lori Erickson connects an old saint with new media in this spirited piece.

"Family Trees" (May 17): Alice Kearney Alwin's creates a theology of maternity while contemplating the cycles of the church and the earth.

"Saying Yes to Love" (May 31): Anna Nussbaum Keating discusses the challenges and joys of marriage, and the saints who help along the way.

"Sea Change" (Oct. 18): B.G. Kelley's reflection on the ocean offers motivation for readers looking for an excuse to head to the shore.

Books

Ann M. Begley’s comprehensive and colorful overview (March 29) of the work of the renowned Russian writer Alexandr Solzhenitsyn is a clear, engaging guide to the man who made “a unique contribution to literature.” 

Charles R. Morris’s review of The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century (July 19) is a fascinating “success story” and insightful account of the son of Chinese missionaries who rose to rule a publishing empire.

Bill Williams reviews The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (Nov. 1)—a critically acclaimed work that traces the mass migration between World War I and the 1970s of 6 million black Americans.

By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham has been critically and popularly acclaimed, but in his review Kevin Spinale argues  that it ultimately fails as a work of art.

John J. DiIulio’s review of American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (Nov. 22) is a clearly written explication of the authors’ findings on how Americans relate to people of other faiths or no faith. Their brilliant often surprising insights, he notes, makes the book “an instant classic.”

Culture

"The Enlightened One" (March 29): It’s always enjoyable seeing an expert turn his gaze to popular culture. Here Paul Knitter of Union Theological Seminary reviews PBS' "The Buddha" and in the process provides a précis on Buddhism.

“Dearest Forster” (Nov. 15): Readers loved this preview from the forthcoming edited volume of the letters of Dorothy Day, which included frank expressions of sexual desire towards her common-law husband, Forster Batterham. 

“The Seer” (Oct. 18): Critic John Anderson brought his considerable talents to bear in this beautiful review of an indie biopic of Hildegard of Bingen. Anderson’s piece handled the spiritual as well as it did the controversial.

“God’s Architect” (Sept. 27): Austen Ivereigh offers an in-depth look at the opening of the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, by the great (and possibly saintly) architect Antonio Gaudí.   

“Un-Friendly” (Nov. 1): One of the most popular movies of the year was also a probing look at the way our culture has changed in the digital age. Kerry Weber did a superb job of examining the many layers of David Fincher’s “The Social Network.”