The National Catholic Review

Podcasts: 2010

Sudan's Fate

January 3-10-17 Podcast
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Associate Editor Kevin Clarke outlines the issues at stake leading up to the January 9 referendum in Sudan. If the populace votes in favor of independence for the South, civil war could break out again, as forces in the North seem unwilling to allow their fellow citizens to form their own nation. The referendum was set nearly five years ago when a peace agreement ended years of fighting, yet the international community has not paid much attention to the issue until the last few months. In their editorial, "Deadline in Sudan" America's editors urge the international community to heed their "responsibility to protect" innocent parties in Sudan.

Christmas in Bethlehem

December 20-27 Podcast
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Fr. Guido Gockel, former director of the pontifical mission for Palestine, describes the Christmas customs in Bethlehem, including the marathon of liturgies at the Basilica of the Nativity that begin on Christmas Eve. Fr. Gockel, a member of the Mill Hill Missionaries, also describes his current work for the Catholic Near Eastern Welfare Association, which published the magazine One. The fresco at right is from the Basilica of the Nativity.

Uncommon Vision

December 6 Podcast
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John Howard Griffin is known primarily as the author of Black Like Me, a seminal book in the history of the civil rights movement in which a white man dressed up as a black man and wrote about his experiences in the segregated south. But Griffin was also a war hero, a convert to Catholicism, a blind man who miraculously regained his sight and the onetime biographer of Thomas Merton. The documentary filmmaker Morgan Atkinson introduces his documentary of Griffin, "Uncommon Vision," which will air on Kentucky PBS on January 11 and is available for purchase on Atkinson's Web site.

The Change Decade

November 29 Podcast
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In a discussion of his book, The American Catholic Revolution, Mark S. Massa, S.J. introduces the major moments and figures of the 1960s, including Frederick McManus and the liturgical changes introduced by Vatican II, Charlie Curran and and the resistance to Humanae vitae and the political activism of Daniel Berrigan, S.J. Scroll to minute 15:50 to hear Father Massa discuss the legacy of Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J.

'Men Owe Them Kindness'

November 22 Podcast
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Deborah M. Jones discusses her book, The School of Compassion: A Roman Catholic Theology of Animals, and her work with the Catholic Concern for Animals. Dr. Jones has sought to build a theology of animals around the catechism's dictate that "animals are God's creatures. By their mere existence, they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness." She reflects on care for animals shown by the desert fathers, why she hopes her cause will be embraced by Catholic scholars and what ordinary Catholics can do to show their compassion for all God's creatures.

The Pope's Maestro

November 15 Podcast
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When he was first summoned to meet with Pope John Paul II, Sir Gilbert Levine was surprised to find himself led to the pope's private library, and felt sure it was it was a once-in-a-lifetime meeting. That first conversation in 1988 gave birth to a 17-year relationship between the two men--an unlikely pairing of a Brooklyn-born Jewish conductor and the Polish pope. Levine would conduct numerous papal concerts over the years, including the memorable "Papal Concert to Commemorate the Shoah" in 1994. The two men developed what one of John Paul's aides called a "deep spiritual friendship," which Levin writes about in his new book The Pope's Maestro. Scroll to minute 22:08 to heard Sir Gilbert describe the day he prayed with Pope John Paul II.

That Turbulent Priest

November 8 Podcast
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Raymond A. Schroth, S.J., reviews the life of the controversial priest and politician Robert F. Drinan, S.J. When Fr. Drinan ran for Congress in 1970, he was among a dozen priests and religious seeking higher office. By the time Drinan was forced to leave in 1980 by order of Pope John Paul II, that number had dwindled, signaling the end of the era of the priest-politician. In his ten years in office, Drinan helped bring an end to the war in Vietnam and impeach a sitting president. Fr. Schroth discusses his controversial legacy, including his much cited stand on abortion. Fr. Schroth's Bob Drinan: The Controversial Life of the First Catholic Priest Elected to Congress is published by Fordham University Press.

Digging Into Heaney

America's Book Club discusses Human Chain, the new collection of poems by Seamus Heaney. Angela O'Donnell, a poet and professor of English at Fordham University, analyzes the recurrent themes in the collection, including mortality and the sacramental nature of creation. As in previous volumes, Heaney uses his writing to carry on a conversation with generations past, and here he converses with both his deceased parents and poets such as John Donne. Professor O'Donnell also reads her own poem, "Homage to St. Seamus," which was published in America in March 2010.
November 1, 2010 Podcast

Guantanamo Witness

October 25 Podcast
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Luke Hansen, S.J., a member of Witness Against Torture, discusses his article in the current issue of America on the Gospel call to love one's enemies and how that mandate lead to his meeting with former detainees at Guantanamo Bay. For more on the Uighur men who Luke and other members of Witness Against Torture met in Bermuda see this article from the New York Times.

The Reconstruction of Haiti

October 18 Podcast
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Tom Price and Nora Collins of Catholic Relief Services provide a report on reconstruction efforts underway in Haiti following the devastating earthquake in January and the work CRS is doing to aid in the country's recovery. Only 4 percent of earthquake rubble has been removed in 10 months, and large number of residents are still living in temporary tent cities. Tom Price also discusses his article for America, "The Other Haiti," which looks at the special challenges facing residents of the country's rural provinces.

Pictured right: Tents house patients of the Hospital Saint Francois outside of Port-au-Prince. CRS is working to rebuild the hospital, which was damaged in the quake. Photo by Benjamin Depp for CRS.

Star Gazers

October 11 Podcast
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George V. Coyne, S.J., president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, recounts the history of this institution, and explains how the Vatican became involved in the study of the planets and stars. Father Coyne also weighs in on the contemporary debate about the compatibility of science and religion, and makes the case that Stephen Hawking is wrong about the origins of the universe.

Mountains No More

October 4 Podcast
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Kyle T. Kramer recounts his recent trip to Eastern Kentucky where he witnessed the horrors of mountaintop removal, an injustice that he describes as almost Biblical in scope. In addition to destroying the natural landscape, MTR creates nearly unlivable conditions for the families who live in the vicinity. Kramer explains why all people of faith have a special calling to work against MTR and reduce the energy consumption that feeds the growth of the coal industry.

Archbishop's Questions

Special Podcast
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Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York recently spoke with James Martin, S.J., about his new book The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything during the the archbishop's weekly radio program on The Catholic Channel. During the show, the archbishop shared his admiration for the Society of Jesus and for the gift of Ignatian spirituality. Archbishop Dolan also speaks movingly, and candidly, with Father Martin about his own experiences with Ignatian contemplation. Audio courtesy Sirius Satellite Radio.

What Is 'The Good Word'?

September 13-20 Podcast
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John W. Martens, an associate professor of theology at St. Thomas University and the principal blogger for "The Good Word," introduces America's Scripture blog by asking, what is the Bible? The answer depends on whether you are Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant. Even among English speaking Catholics there is disagreement about which Biblical translation is the best. Professor Martens shares his favorite translation and his favorite book of the Bible. He also explores the deeper question of what it means to say the Bible is inspired by God.

Books for the Beach and Beyond

August 30-September 6 Podcast
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Regina Nigro, the assistant literary editor at America, looks at the publishing hits of summer 2010. On top of that list is Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, which has found a home in almost every subway car in New York City, but is not the only mystery worth picking up this summer. Tana French's Faithful Place has been receiving well-deserved raves, and if you like Sherlock Holmes, one of our readers recommends The God of the Hive. Regina reports on these books and some of highly anticipated novels due out in the fall, including Jonathan Franzen's Freedom and Philip Roth's Nemesis. Read Regina's summer reading book blog post here.

Toward a Prolife Stem Cell Research

August 16-23 Podcast
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W. Malcolm Byrnes reports on scientific research into induced pluripotent stem cells, a promising prolife alternative to embryonic stem cell research. Because IPS cell research does not result in the destruction of embryos--and because IPS cells are more easily obtained than embryonic stem cells--their discovery in 2006 was hailed by scientists and prolife leaders alike. Four years later, it appears that additional testing is still needed to demonstrate that IPS cells are functionally equivalent to embryonic stem cells. This process could pose ethical problems for church leaders, explains Byrnes, who argues that a recent encyclical could point a way forward.

In Search of the Living Jesus

August 2-9 Podcast
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Biblical scholar Luke Timothy Johnson argues that historical scholarship alone cannot find the living Jesus. Though the study of history can help Christians to becomes responsible readers of the Gospels, engaging Jesus as a literary figure is ultimately a more fruitful exercise for the person of faith. Prof. Johnson also discusses why 14 years after the publication of The Real Jesus, his critique of historical Jesus scholarship, the popularity of John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg and other such scholars endures. Read "The Jesus Controversy" from the August 2-9 issue.

The Lesson of Guadalupe

July 19-26 Podcast
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In a discussion of his new collection of spiritual writings, the Rev. Virgilio Elizondo describes the importance of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Latino Catholic tradition, and how the story of Mary's appearance can help to bridge the polarizing divide opened by the immigration debate. Father Elizondo, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame who still does pastoral work in his home diocese of San Antonio, also describes the evolution of U.S. Latino theology, including the importance of Galilee in his own study of the life of Jesus.

Catholic Workers

July 5-12 Podcast
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Applications to religious volunteer programs have risen dramatically this year as a result of the shrinking job market. In "Will Work for Free," assistant editor Kerry Weber looks at how the influx of volunteers and the poor economic conditions are affecting programs like the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. On our podcast Kerry discusses why she chose to spend a year with the Mercy Volunteer Corps after graduating from college and what spiritual lessons she learned from the sisters of Mercy and the families she worked with on an Indian reservation.

Malta's Catholic Culture

June 21-28 Podcast
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The small island of Malta may seem like a surprising choice for a papal visit, but that country's rich Catholic culture drew Pope John Paul II to travel there twice. Pope Benedict XVI made the trip in April, and U.S. ambassador Douglas W. Kmiec says that the pontiff seemed rejuvenated after his tour of some of the country's many parishes. Ambassador Kmiec also discusses the pope's meeting with sexual abuse survivors, and what living in Malta taught him about his faith as he grieved the death of his father. Read Ambassador Kmiec's article on his father's death in the June 21-28 issue of America.

Summer Film Preview

June 7-14 Podcast
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"Robin Hood" may be inexplicably dreary, and "Iron Man 2" may not match the lively wit of the original, but do not despair: the films of summer 2010 aren't a complete bust. Film critic John Anderson highlights some smaller films worth looking out for, including "Restrepo," a documentary about a platoon in Afghanistan, and "Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky," an aesthete's film if there ever was one. Anderson also discusses popular books that have made their way to the screen, including Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series and Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo.

Jesus Examined

May 31 Podcast
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Novelist Mary Gordon's new book, Reading Jesus: a Writer's Encounter with the Gospels, began as an effort to understand Christian fundamentalism by looking at the primary sources of the Christian tradition. As she examined Jesus' life and work, she discovered that she did not always agree with Jesus's teachings, refusing, for example, to heed his words to "let the dead bury the dead." Yet she did not find her faith undermined by these disagreements, and instead came to a richer if more complicated understanding of what it means to be a believer. Interview conducted by assistant editor Kerry Weber. Photo by Emma Dodge Hanson.

Drugs & Prison Policy

May 24 Podcast
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Drawing from the new report, Behind Bars II: Substance Abuse and America's Prison Policy, Joseph A. Califano Jr. argues that drug treatment is essential to reducing crime outside prison and improving the environment within. This is not a liberal or conservative issue, he argues, but should be embraced by all politicians interested in fighting crime. According to Behind Bars II, 65 percent of the U.S. prison population suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. Mr. Califano, a former aide to Lyndon Johnson, cabinet member under Jimmy Carter and the current chairman of the National Center on Substance Abuse and Control at Columbia University, also discusses the challenges facing Catholics in the public square.

Reports on Labor and Japan

May 17 Podcast
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We feature two online conversations this week: the first is with Clayton Sinyai, right, a member of the Catholic Labor Network and the director of strategic campaigns for the Amalgamated Transit Union. Speaking at a conference on Caritas in Veritate held at Princeton University, Clayton explored what the pope’s latest encyclical has to say about the labor movement. We also spoke with Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki, who was visiting New York to attend the nonproliferation deliberations at the United Nations. The archbishop brought with him a scorched remnant of a statue of Mary that graced the main altar of Nagasaki’s Urakami Cathedral before it was destroyed by the atomic bomb. The archbishop was an unborn child in his mother’s womb when the second atomic bomb obliterated his hometown.

Hauerwas Unbound

May 10 Podcast
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Named by Time magazine in 2001 as the "best theologian in America," Stanley Hauerwas is a towering figure in theology today, a pacifist and author whose work has sought to integrate a variety of Christian and ethical sources. His new book, Hannah's Child, is an account of his life in theology that deals frankly with the mental illness of his first wife as well as his ecclesial journey from Methodist to Catholic to Anglican worship. In this interview, Hauerwas assesses the health of Christianity today and reflects on what it means to be a pacifist after 9/11.

Battle on the Thames

May 3 Podcast
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Matt Malone, S.J., a former associate editor at America, reports from London on what may be the closest--and most exciting--race to lead Parliament in decades. What happens if there is a "hung Parliament," and what role does the Queen play in this scenario? How does the British election compare with its American counterpart? Malone provides cogent analysis along with a helpful introduction to the unique intricacies of the British political system.

The Power of Kinship

April 26 Podcast
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Gregory Boyle, S.J., the founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention program in the United States, talks about why young people join gangs, and the services his agency offers to "homies" and "home girls" who finally decide they want to leave the gang life. In his new book, Tattoos on the Heart, Fr. Boyle offers stories of the young men and women he has met in his ministry that are both sad and funny, a glimpse of a segment of the poor that is too often overlooked.

Life In Jesus' Time

April 12-19 Podcast
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Life in Year One is not a book about Jesus, but about the time in which Jesus lived, explains author Scott Korb. What did people eat, where did they work and worship, and what was their relationship to Roman authorities? Few historical records of the time exist, so looking back at this era requires moral imagination--a habit that, if cultivated properly, could help readers connect to the poor and destitute of our own time.

Do We Need a Vatican III?

April 5 Podcast
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In an interview recorded at the 2010 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, Richard Gaillardetz examines the successes and the still yet unrealized goals of the Second Vatican Council. Should Catholics today focus anew on implementing the Council's vision, or instead turn outward to evangelize the culture? Or perhaps, fifty years after Vatican II, is a followup council needed to address the questions--like the role of lay ministers and women in the church--not taken up by the Council fathers?

Illusions in Afghanistan

March 29 Podcast
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Andrew J. Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University, discusses the guiding illusions at the heart of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan. The U.S. commitment to secular modernity, in particular, is at odds with an Islamic culture that is infused with religion at every level. American do-goodism is not enough to win in Afghanistan, Bacevich argues, and may even exacerbate anti-American sentiment. Read Professor Bacevich's article from the March 29 issue, "Deja Vu in Marja."

Heaven Is What I Cannot Reach

March 22 Podcast
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Newsweek's Lisa Miller talks about her new book Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife. The idea of heaven comes from the Jewish tradition, Miller explains, but was embroidered later by Christians and Muslims, who have at various times imagined heaven as a place where one is reunited with friends and family, and a venue for sensual pleasures unavailable in this mortal life. While researching the book, Miller spoke with Trappist monks and scholars of religion, among many others, about the otherworldly place Emily Dickinson called "what I cannot reach."

Man on a Wire

March 15 Podcast
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In the third installment of America's Book Club, Kevin Spinale, S.J., and Tim Reidy consider Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin, a novel about beauty, grace and coincidence set in Manhattan in 1974. Built around Philip Petit's famous tight-rope walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center, McCann's novel is told from a multitude of perspectives, tracing the lives of characters as diverse as a traveling Irish mendicant and a prostitute working the streets of the Bronx. In McCann's world, drug addicts and pimps are worthy of attention, and beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places. Winner of the 2009 National Book Award, Let the Great World Spin is an elegant tapestry of a novel, one that America's reviewer recommends reading twice.

'A Jesuit Guide' for Real Life

March 8 Podcast
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James Martin, S.J., culture editor at America and author of My Life with the Saints, introduces his latest book, a guide to Ignatian spirituality for the general reader. In A Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, Father Martin explains such Jesuit maxims as "finding God in all things" and "contemplatives in action" while also providing a clear description of the examen, lectio divina and other ways to pray that have grown out of the Jesuit tradition. He also draws upon the work of Avery Dulles, Karl Rahner and other, lesser known Jesuits who have served as "wisdom figures" in his own life.

Deconstructing Oscar

March 1 Podcast
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In this, the third edition of our annual Oscar Podcast, Bill McGarvey of BustedHalo joins Father James Martin and Tim Reidy of America to review the best picture nominees for 2009. Will "Avatar" triumph or can "The Hurt Locker" squeak out a surprise win? What are the surprise nominees in the expanded list of ten? What do "Up" and "Up in the Air" have to say about detachment, and what exactly happened in the final scene of "A Serious Man"? Find out on this extended podcast in anticipation of the Oscar broadcast on March 7. Listen to Part 1 of our conversation below.

Health Care After Scott Brown

February 22 Podcast
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Can health care reform still pass now that the Democrats have lost their filibuster proof majority? How do the bishops assess the House and Senate bills, especially on the question of abortion? As the director of domestic social development for the U.S. bishops' conference, Kathy Saile has worked to insure that the bishops' voice is heard on Capitol Hill during during the health care debate. Here she talks with associate editor Kevin Clarke about the prospects for reform and why the bishops are still pushing hard for "health care for all."

Rowan Williams Accepts the Campion Award

February 15 Podcast
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On January 25 Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, accepted the 2009 Campion Award from the editors of America. A renowned scholar, theologian, ecumenist, pastor, professor and poet, Archbishop Williams is the author of more than a score of books. In his remarks upon accepting award, he dilated on the idea of a “martyrial ecumenism,” mused on the surprising links between Shakespeare and St. Edmund Campion and emphasized the central place of forgiveness in all relationships. Drew Christiansen, S.J, the editor in chief of America, introduced the archbishop,

and literary editor Patricia A. Kossmann presented Williams with the award.

The Campion award is given on a regular basis to a notable Christian person of letters. It is named after St. Edmund Campion, S.J., an English writer and martyr who is honored in both the Anglican and Catholic traditions. For more coverage of this year’s award ceremony visit our Campion Web page.

A Report from Catholic Relief Services

Special Podcast on Haiti
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Catholic Relief Services has been providing aid to Haiti since 1954 and had 300 workers in the country when the earthquake hit on January 12. John Rivera, the director of communications for CRS, gives an update on the agency's relief efforts, and explains how CRS is working with the U.S. government and faith-based aid agencies to deliver food where it is needed. Donate to CRS here.

Jews and Catholics In Conversation

February 1-8 Podcast
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Every year Fordham University brings together Catholic and Jewish leaders to engage in dialogue at the Nostra Aetate lecture. The dialogues are inspired by the Vatican II document that addresses the church's relations with non-Christian religions. This year, newly installed Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York sat down with Arnold M. Eisen, the chancellor of Jewish Theological Seminary. They discussed the pressing issues facing both faiths, notably the diminishment of religious practice among the young. Archbishop Dolan's remarks are reprinted in the Feb. 1-8 issue of America under the title "A Shared Path." Photo: Ken Levinson.

Searching for Reinhold Niebuhr

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Ever since President Obama named Reinhold Niebuhr as his favorite philosopher, this mid-20th century public intellectual has been much invoked by pundits and columnists, especially in relation to the president's Nobel acceptance speech defending war as a tool for building peace. Here Drew Christiansen, S.J., argues that a closer examination of Niebuhr's entire career reveals not just a foreign policy realist but a skeptical critic of American exceptionalism. Father Christiansen recommends these books for a fuller understanding of Niebuhr's career, as well as a biography by Richard Wightman Fox. To read the article by David Cortright mentioned during the podcast, click here.