The National Catholic Review

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  • December 5-12, 2016

    “How do they keep going?”

    That is the hard question hanging over the decades-long public witness of Daniel and Philip Berrigan—in particular, the years of grinding punishment the brothers endured for their shocks to the conscience, whether napalming Vietnam draft files or anointing nuclear weapons with blood after symbolically disarming them with blows from a household hammer.

    I first heard the...

  • December 5-12, 2016

    From 2000 to 2002, the Lilly Endowment undertook an ambitious program for the reform of American college education. Initiated by the religious division of the foundation, the effort was directed toward specific church-related careers and called the Program for the Theological Exploration of Vocation (P.T.E.V.). It approached nearly 400 institutions to submit proposals for the project, and it eventually muted the theological direction by broadening “vocation” to “a...

  • December 5-12, 2016

    Yes, Peter O’Toole did have a life after “Lawrence of Arabia.” And before, too. But most casual moviegoers would be hard pressed to add many entries to his biography—although, with a little time to think about it, they might come up with “Becket,” in which he played opposite Richard Burton, and “Lion in Winter,” in which he crossed verbal swords with Katherine Hepburn. His other starring performances, competent as they were, have passed quietly out of the public...

  • November 28, 2016

    Cardinal Walter Kasper, an accomplished German theologian who has written at least 15 books in ecclesiology and Christology, has become known in recent years as the “pope’s theologian.” His latest book, "The Catholic Church," sheds light on why Pope Francis has relied on his theological contributions and calls upon him with confidence. This magnum opus in the area of ecclesiology consistently shows great respect for tradition and orthodox theology while also...

  • November 28, 2016

    In her preface to the recent reissue of Myles Connolly’s Mr. Blue by Cluny Classics, Mary Connolly Breiner, his daughter, poses two immediate challenges to a reader of the novel (let alone a reviewer). First is her assertion that Pope Francis ( Pope Francis! ) would love the character of Blue (imagining them as “true brothers in spirit”). Second is that the novel’s tale of Christian/spiritual self-sacrifice competing against the forces of selfish, “business world”...

  • November 21, 2016

    After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, many Americans wondered, “Why do they hate us?” Answers suggesting that perhaps U.S. policies in the region had generated the plotters’ hostility only increased the befuddlement, which soon morphed into fear and anger. Politicians turned those simmering resentments into policy proposals of exclusion and cultural conflict, drawing on well-worn stereotypes about Islam and Arabs. The call by the Republican presidential...

  • November 21, 2016

    In this most classic of philosophical tales, Socrates dies a death that has been the subject of so much speculation and controversy that it has been fairly difficult over the years to determine what exactly, if anything, philosophically speaking, was accomplished through his singular death. Nonetheless, the question still remains an important one: Why did Socrates do it? Why did he drink from the cup that would lead to his imminent death. Moreover, since we are told...

  • November 21, 2016

    Who was Richard Nixon? The question might seem absurd on the face of it, particularly for those who grew up in the 1970s. We saw Nixon as a kind of colossus—the shadowy figure whose triumph (the olive branch to China, historic re-election landslide in 1972) and fall (the disgrace of Watergate, threat of impeachment and ultimate resignation) were touchstones of an era.

    Yet 2016 is a good moment to consider Nixon. Seventy years ago,...

  • Objectivity has long been prized in the academy, and especially so in my home country, England, where my university lecturers forbade the written use of the word “I,” lest bias or digression crept into our essays. Since coming to the United States for graduate school, I have learned that the value of autobiography in academia is in fact rooted in its dissuasion of bias, since it forces the writer to disclose his or her standpoint at the outset. This wisdom is upheld by many U.S. academics....

  • As the title suggests, this book is meant to shock us—and it does. It shocks us to learn that drugs and alcohol are routinely issued to soldiers in times of warfare and always have been. We know the dangers of drugs and scorn those who have used them unfairly in sports. We are saddened by the widespread addictions in our society and understand their cost. How can we justify the military giving addictive pills to their warriors?

    Unfortunately, this book does not satisfactorily answer...