How late political theorist Jerome Kerwin can help solve the church's modern crises
Like me, Jerome Kerwin (1896–1977) was a Catholic political theorist. He was the first Catholic appointed to the faculty at the University of Chicago. Despite his early life in Upstate New York, he became an icon of what I think of as Chicago’s own particular flavor of Catholicism. Kerwin’s work is scant even though he was a scholar. He spent many years working in university administration, not writing books.
The immigrant saint welcomed and cared for the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses.
I was born in a Little Italy in upstate New York, where my aunt and uncle ran a small grocery and a large apartment building. When I was 5, my uncle gave me a bag of fresh bread to bring to the sisters next door. My kindergarten teacher opened the door, hugged me and the bread, and gave me a beautiful African violet plant and a holy card of Mother Cabrini.
“When she was your age,” the nun said, “she used to pick violets on the riverbank near her home in Italy. She pretended the flowers were missionaries and sent them in paper boats toward China.”
Solitude is more than rest and escape; it is a powerful spiritual fuel for our love of neighbor and of God.
Christian hermits, or solitaries as they are sometimes called, have fascinated me for years.
Tolkien believed that everything—trees, grass, hobbit, elf—is bound up in the presence of Christ on earth.
A quiet life of faithfulness—in many ways—is the kind of life I hope to lead. I don’t desire to make a show of my faith; Jesus himself tells us not to.
I have always believed that a quiet life of faith is the best form of evangelism. When we truly live out our lives as Catholics doing what Catholics should do, that will speak more words than any of us could ever write on the subject.
J.R.R. Tolkien, a man so intimately related to words and language and even fame and notoriety, lived such a quiet life of faithfulness.
Even when he played the bad guy, John Mahoney imbued his characters with his personal faith.
In Say Anything, Cameron Crowe’s seminal movie about love and trust in relationships, lovesick good guy Lloyd Dobler hoists his iconic boom box above his head to openly declare his love for Diane Court with a serenade of the dreamy “In Your Eyes.” At the slumber party I’m attending as a 12 year old, we all swoon. And when the strict and manipulative father to Diane impedes the star-crossed lovers, we collectively boo. “Has he no heart? Let them love each other!” my tweenage friends and I hiss.
Physical courage is nothing compared to moral courage.
No story is faceless. Every action we take—every change in foreign policy or bomb dropped—affects real people.
James Foley understood that. He died trying to get us to understand it, too.
“I believe that frontline journalism is important. Without these photos and videos and firsthand experience, we can’t really tell the world how bad it might be,” he said in a 2011 interview.
Pier Giorgio Frassati shone as Christ’s light in the world, fighting for the most vulnerable.
As a modern Catholic, one of my daily struggles is figuring out how to live in the world in a meaningful and impactful way. Every time I approach the altar I offer up the same prayer: “Jesus, help me be your light to the world.” I want to be His witness in every practical way I can. As a mother and wife, I know how to do that. I love. I discipline. I share a life with my husband that strives for heaven as its goal. But as a citizen, being a witness is more complicated. How do I interact with modern politics in a way that satisfies my communion prayer to be Christ’s light to the world?
Writing about movies, Roger Ebert had a lot to say about life.
He was perhaps America’s most beloved film critic, but that is not what Roger Ebert thought he wanted to be.
The way Ebert tells it, he imagined a career as a columnist, something along the lines of being a Mike Royko, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Tribune columnist who covered the city’s political scene. Instead, Ebert’s boss at the Chicago Sun-Times, Bob Zonka, announced in 1967 that Ebert would replace the paper’s retiring film critic, Eleanor Keen. Ebert’s life course was set.
Jesuit Father Dean Brackley taught that theology without encounter falls flat.
The people of Capim Grosso, Brazil taught me to dance. Jesuit Father Dean Brackley helped me make sense of the experience. At the time I was a 21-year-old pilgrim from the Midwest plopped in the rural plains of Brazil without my phone or credit card or anything I usually carried to make me comfortable. None of it would have done me any good in Capim Grosso, anyway. The people lived modestly. I saw what I thought was poverty: small houses with chipping paint, meals of rice and beans, very little technology. Then the village invited me to dance.
Eight centuries ago Albert the Great showed how theology and science can walk hand in hand.
I teach graduate students how to teach math and science. On the first day of each semester, I ask, “Who can tell me something about Albertus Magnus, Albert the Great?” Students usually avoid making eye contact.
Though they expect an explanation, instead of answering the original question, I go on to ask them, “Who can tell me something about Galileo Galilei?” Inevitably, the reply relates to Galileo’s controversy with the church. The students seem surprised when I tell them that Galileo’s notebooks mention Albert the Great 23 times.