US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Read: Voting and Holiness

By J. Peter Nixon |
Voting and Holiness
Edited by Nicholas Cafardi (Paulist Press, 2012)

Elections have become something of a cross to bear for American Catholics. Not only is it difficult to find a candidate who does not hold a position at variance with Catholic teaching, the debate over how Catholics should respond to this reality has become increasingly bitter.

Listen: Dr. John's Locked Down

By Danny Duncan Collum |
Locked Down
Dr. John
(Nonesuch Records, 2012)

In the deranged days of 1968, New Orleans musician Mac Rebennack decided to join the fun by dubbing himself Dr. John the Night Tripper, taking to the stage in a Mardi Gras Indian-inspired costume and making music thoroughly marinated in his hometown’s Afro-Caribbean musical traditions and religious lore.

Watch: We Have a Pope

By Patrick McCormick |
Directed by Nanni Moretti (Sundance Selects, 2012)

Nanni Moretti’s lighthearted and melancholic comedy introduces us to a gentle and frail cleric who would not be pope—even though the college of cardinals has just elected him to serve as St. Peter’s successor.

USC Book Club: Jesus and the Emergence of a Catholic Imagination

Online Editor |

May 2012:

Jesus and the Emergence of a Catholic Imagination

By John Pfordresher


In this fascinating account, John Pfordresher, an English professor at Georgetown University, traces the roots of the Catholic imagination from Jesus to the arts of the West through the centuries.

Picturing the end: Heaven and hell in outsider art

By Jerry Bleem, O.F.M. |
The artistic visions of "outsider artists" offer an invitation to imagine creation's final destination.

Sister Gertrude Morgan, Lord Put Another Fuse in My Soul, ca. 1970, Painted found tray, 16 x 21.75 inches. Collection of Bob Roth.

Listen: New Multitudes

By Danny Duncan Collum |
Jay Farrar, Jim James, et al. (Rounder Records, 2012)

When the American folk icon Woody Guthrie died in 1967, he left behind reams of song lyrics but no music for them. During the past two decades his daughter, Nora Guthrie, has invited contemporary artists to put music to those orphaned lyrics and record the results. The release of New Multitudes is part of that effort, which reaches a crescendo this year, the centennial of Guthrie’s birth.

Read: Happiness

By Alfred J. Garrotto |
By Joan Chittister (Eerdmans, 2011)

Joan Chittister’s admirers take up her books expecting to draw from a well of wisdom and insight. They approach a writer of her stature with a challenge and a plea: “Tell me something I don’t already know.” Or, at least: “Tell me what I know in a way that unlocks spiritual doors and shines light on new ways of experiencing God.” We are seldom left wanting.

Were you there?

By Brian Doyle |
Let the slow, poignant shuffle begin--the Veneration of the Cross.

A priest prone, his face to the floor, his arms stretched like broken wings. The chapel silent and expectant. Thorny-voiced Isaiah: "He was despised and forsaken; he was pierced for our transessions; he was crushed for our iniquities." Then the voices from all around the chapel-the young priest near the altar, a girl high in the balcony, a boy in a deep dark corner:

"What is truth?" says Pilate.

"Hail, King of the Jews."

Watch: A Separation

By Patrick McCormick |
Directed by Asghar Farhadi (Sony Pictures, 2011)

We all tell stories, and we all believe our stories are true. But the small gaps between our stories and the truth can become chasms in a universe where things fall apart.