The National Catholic Review

Books

  • April 6, 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.

  • April 6, 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...

  • March 30, 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 23, 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...

  • March 23, 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 16, 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...

  • March 16, 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 16, 2015

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

  • March 9, 2015

    “Abandon all hope, you who enter here.” That counsel of despair famously confronts the condemned who pass through the gates of Dante’s Inferno. In that hell, as Robert A. Ferguson observes, everlasting punishment “can never be fully satisfied no matter what the doomed do or say.” Ferguson’s own Inferno: An Anatomy of American Punishment convinces us that our state or federal prisons could aptly place Dante’s inscription on their 21st-century...

  • March 9, 2015

    In what now seems a moment of serendipity, I received the request to review Mortal Blessings, by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell (an America columnist), just as I finished reading and discussing William Faulkner’s novel As I Lay Dying with a handful of fellow book club members. Faulkner’s agonizing yet powerful account of the death of Addie Bundren, as told by Bundren...