US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Bad news on the rise

By Heidi Schlumpf| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

A long line has formed at the information desk at Borders, so I wait my turn behind a student studying her syllabus and a tourist-type, probably looking for a beach-read recommendation. When the young man behind the desk gets to me, I ask, "Do you have any books on the sex-abuse crisis in the Catholic Church?" thinking he probably doesn't get that question too often. Immediately his eyes light up with recognition. "Oh, yes, there are a bunch of books coming out on that. One is called Goodbye something . .

Family secrets

By Dolores Curran| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

When the news about our recently named Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's Jewish roots exploded in early February, I scurried to my book of quotes to find one I clipped a few years ago. Written by the Rev. James A.Simpson, it asks, "Why pay money to have your family tree traced? Go into politics and your opponents will do it for you."

Father, son, and an unholy war

By Peter Gilmour| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Imagine being a supporter of the Vietnam antiwar movement and the son of a lieutenant general who is the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Imagine your mental and spiritual development placing you in total opposition with the person you admire most. Imagine a faith that helps you through all of this. James Carroll, a best-selling author, does not have to imagine these things: he has lived them.

Get your faith off the shelf

By Lawrence Cunningham| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

What have been the most influential books published in the Catholic world in the past generation? I expanded the scope of that question to include the three decades which have passed since the closing of the Second Vatican Council. I narrowed the question by thinking only of books available in English. As a second step, I proposed the same question to a number of my colleagues who gather for lunch each day in the faculty building here at the University of Notre Dame. I was a bit taken aback by the paucity of their suggestions.

Washington Square Serenade

By Danny Duncan Collum| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Steve Earle (New West, 2007)

Steve Earle is, without question, the most overtly political artist in American popular culture. For a long time his activism (and songwriting) focused on his opposition to the death penalty. But shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan, he wrote a sympathetic ballad about John Walker Lindh (the American Taliban), and he only got more pointed and confrontational from there.

Faith at the Edge

By Megan Sweas| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Edited by Angelo Matera (Ave Maria Press, 2008)

If the essayists in a new book are living Faith at the Edge, as the book is named, the majority of young adult Catholics I know are falling off the cliff.

The Counterfeiters

By Patrick McCormick| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky (Sony Pictures Classics, 2007)

Holocaust films often present concentration camp inmates as if they were only victims, not complex characters with their own unique stories and choices. But Stefan Ruzowitzky's riveting tale about two very different prisoners struggling to find their own answer to an impossible moral dilemma presents us with protagonists who cannot be reduced to caricatures.


By Patrick McCormick| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Directed by Kimberly Peirce (Paramount, 2008)

Five years and more than 4,000 U.S. deaths after the president declared "mission accomplished," the American public is discouraged, distracted, and dispirited by the war in Iraq, eager to move on but unable to imagine an exit strategy.

Miles from the Sideline

By Mary Cleary Kiely| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

By Maura Weis (Sorin Books/Ave Maria Press, 2008)

Miles from the Sideline is an appropriate title for Maura Weis’ account of life with her daughter, Hannah, who has severe global developmental delays caused by a rare seizure disorder. The wife of Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis, Weis’ struggles as a mother and as a Christian are no less Herculean than those of the most committed athlete, but they occur in a more private realm.