The National Catholic Review

Culture

July 2014

  • July 22, 2014

    When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, many exiled Iraqis expressed the cautious hope that the U.S. occupation would wind down in a few years and that the country would become a viable democracy. For Zaid Al-Ali, whose family had left Iraq before he was born, this meant leaving a lucrative commercial litigation and arbitration legal practice in Paris in 2005 to work for the United Nations in Iraq drafting a legal framework for the Iraqi parliament, judiciary and executive agencies.

  • July 22, 2014

    In this collection of interrelated, multigenerational stories, A Kind of Dream, Kelly Cherry explores themes of family, creativity and mortality. Though it is the third of a trilogy, preceded by My Life and Dr. Joyce Brothers and The Society of Friends: Stories, A Kind of Dream is intended to stand alone and self-contained, as its separate narratives and varied points of view eventually resolve themselves into the consciousness of one character, Nina, a writer of some repute who is facing the end of her life.

  • July 22, 2014

    I admire the gumption of Richard J. Regan, S.J., who attempts and pretty well succeeds at making sense of the U.S. Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on the First Amendment’s free exercise and establishment clauses. Those few words, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” have generated more judicial ink than any other part of our Constitution.

  • July 8, 2014

    The great trinity of major postwar German artists is generally reckoned to include Gerhard Richter, Anselm Kiefer and Sigmar Polke, who all wound up studying at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, where Joseph Beuys was the presiding shamanistic presence. The three might well be named elegance, agony and experiment.

  • July 8, 2014

    While scholarly literature about the Holocaust is vast and continually expanding, writings about the members (admittedly very few in number) of the resistance are still quite rare. Men and women familiar to scholars, like Gertrud Luckner, John M. Oesterreicher, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Henri de Lubac are often viewed as isolated heroes, presciently calling into the void alone.

  • July 8, 2014

    One of the many expressions of the “Francis effect” is the renewed prominence of “mercy.” Pope Francis, of course, is not the first pope to speak of mercy in the context of God’s relationship with humanity, but it is certainly his signature tune—the word occurs more than 30 times in “The Joy of the Gospel.”

  • July 8, 2014

    We know for sure that someone is permanently relevant when his or her name becomes an adjective. In the week—last week of March 2014—I finished the most recent of the very many intellectual biographies of George Orwell, his adjectived name appeared twice in Brooklyn (in our diocesan newspaper and in the Playbill for a performance of “King Lear” at the newly completed Polanski Shakespeare Center), as well as in a New York Times op-ed essay. In this respect at least, Brooklyn could be anywhere in the Anglo-Saxon-influenced world.

  • July 1, 2014

     A lot is wrong with higher education in America but plenty more is right. If its economic problems can be dealt with, there’s reason to be optimistic about the future. Only time will tell. That’s the take-away from Ivory Tower, an informative if somewhat complacent documentary by director Andrew Rossi ("Page One: Inside the New York Times").