The National Catholic Review

Culture

April 2015

  • April 22, 2015

    An academic colleague living in France asserts that he has never encountered a country more evenly and implacably divided between left and right than France. John Merriman’s account of the Paris Commune of 1871 explores a historical root of this polarity.

  • April 22, 2015

    This is a major book by a major historian of American religion about a major religious figure in American history. Grant Wacker, recently retired from Duke Divinity School, believes that Billy Graham belongs with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Pope John Paul II as the three most important religious leaders of the second half of the 20th century. I agree, though a strong case can also be made for Pope John XXIII.

  • April 22, 2015

    James T. O’Reilly is an attorney and a much published author of legal handbooks. He was president of the Cincinnati archdiocesan pastoral council when Joseph Bernardin was archbishop. Margaret S. P. Chalmers is a canon lawyer who is chancellor of the personal ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, the special arrangement put in place by Pope Benedict XVI for Episcopalians wanting to come across to Rome. They describe themselves as two explorers who entered the same large old attic by opposite stairs, armed only with a flashlight each.

  • April 22, 2015

    In the last five years, four of the five Oscar winners for Best Picture were films based on true stories, otherwise known as biopics. This year alone, four of the eight contenders in this category came from biopics, as did four of the five Best Actors and two Best Actresses. In fact, every year since 2003 either the Best Actor or Best Actress (and sometimes both) has been awarded to a performer in a film based on a true story.

  • April 15, 2015

    It takes courage to read one’s life in psychological, social and spiritual terms. Oftentimes the venture requires metaphor, and metaphor is the substance of art. Style gives form to content, and creative content acts as a catalyst for understanding.

    The stories of the Japanese Catholic writer Shusaku Endo are filled with the content of his life. He wrote: “I have forged intimate familial ties with these characters, who are reflections of a portion of myself.”

  • April 15, 2015

    “Sculpture from the Age of Donatello” is like a dream from the dawn of the Renaissance now realized at the Museum of Biblical Art in New York City.

  • April 15, 2015

    Fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson ordered a massive escalation of American forces in Vietnam, U.S. policymakers continue to be haunted by the ghosts of that disastrous intervention. Like the French Bourbon kings, who learned nothing and forgot nothing, successive American presidents have repeated the same mistakes that largely destroyed that small rural country and severely damaged the United States for generations.

  • April 15, 2015

    In 1972 the book Bare Ruined Choirs: Doubt, Prophecy, and Radical Religion appeared. Written by Garry Wills, it was a provocative analysis of what happened to the church in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. The punch line of the book was Wills’s claim that the council “let out the dirty little secret...that the church changes.”

  • April 14, 2015

    With the coming of April 2015, the sesquicentennial of the Civil War draws to a close, giving ample cause to look back on one of the most cataclysmic months in the nation’s history. It is now hard to imagine the surge of contrasting emotions that Americans felt, first on April 9, 1865, when General Lee surrendered at Appomattox, and then only six days later, when the news came that President Lincoln had been murdered at Ford’s Theater.

  • April 1, 2015

    This is the latest work of one of America’s most extraordinary and prolific Catholic theologians. Gerard Sloyan, a priest of the Diocese of Trenton, is a prominent Catholic scholar whose years of service have stretched beyond the biblical warrant of “four score and ten” and yet has not missed a beat, as the quality of this book on Jesus attests.

  • April 1, 2015

    As the United States evolves into a multicultural society, few Americans are now old enough to recall the Great Depression and postwar economic boom that shaped our nation’s WASP elite. But James Lee Burke’s 24th novel, Wayfaring Stranger, revives the world of “traditional America” with a passionate aim to comfort all who were marginalized by this period of unparalleled prosperity arising from Hollywood and the oil fields of Texas.

  • April 1, 2015

    Thomas Cromwell may have been a conniving, loathsome character in Robert Bolt’s “A Man for All Seasons,” but the advisor to King Henry VIII was granted redemption by Hilary Mantel in her novels Wolf Hall and Bringing Up the Bodies. (A third novel, The Mirror and the Light, is in the works.) Cromwell is the unlikely hero of these stories, his famous Hans Holbein portrait fully brought to life. Now Cromwell has received perhaps the greatest honor a British historical figure can be granted: a starring role in a Masterpiece drama.