The National Catholic Review

Ideas

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  • January 21-28, 2013

    The thread of Jack Kerouac’s literary and personal life in the American imagination might be unwound succinctly in the following terms: ambitious and fun-loving young man leaves behind his small-town upbringing to chase heroes and dreams in the American West, finding along the way new paths to enlightenment while blazing a trail for generations of seekers to follow.

    It is a theme familiar to most of us, because more than a few of our favorite novels...

  • December 10, 2012
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    School children are touring the throne room of Buckingham Palace when a taxi enters its enclosure. The youngsters watch as a tuxedoed James Bond (Daniel Craig) steps from the cab. He confidently passes through palace corridors until an attendant, in medals and tails, ushers him into the queen’s chambers. Her Majesty continues to work for a moment.

    “Good evening, Mr. Bond.”

    “Good evening, Ma’am.”

    Moments later, the Queen and Mr. Bond board a sleek helicopter, much more...

  • October 29, 2012
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    Last fall I visited Zuccotti Park numerous times between its initial occupation on Sept. 17 and when it was violently emptied in the middle of the night by New York City police officers on Nov. 15. After that event I resolved to return two days later to walk with Occupy Wall Street as the movement attempted to close down, or at least delay, the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange. Outnumbered and overpowered by the police, the attempt failed, of course, and over 300 people were...

  • September 10, 2012
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    It is not hard to come by images of the holy in Tijuana. But in a modest building there a group of Sisters in white saris with three blue stripes cherish a wonderful two-for-one: a newspaper photo of Mother Teresa of Calcutta beaming delightedly as she holds in her hands an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The photograph reminds us of Teresa’s history in Tijuana, and of her joyful relationship with Latin America as a whole.

    The Blessed Mother Teresa—born 102 years ago in August, died...

  • August 13, 2012
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    Twenty-five years ago I was given the job of covering Michael Dukakis, the eventual 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, for The Atlanta Journal Constitution. This time, the political editor told me, we are going to try to focus on the issues, not the horse race.

    In the end it was, as before and since, the horse race that we and the rest of the press focused on. The political editor’s vow was high-minded, but it did not make much sense to me then. And, perennial as it would become...

  • August 13, 2012
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    While Team Great Britain’s crew teams rowed to four gold medals at the London Olympics, a Catholic priest, who is a chaplain offering pastoral support to visitors to the Games, meditated on the parallels between the Olympic sport and the life of a Christian.

    “Rowing is the perfect metaphor for life,” says Msgr. Vladimir Feltzmann, 73, who was one of the Catholic Church of England and Wales’ roaming chaplains for the London Olympics and a former competition rower. “You see the past;...

  • July 30, 2012
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    The fifth annual World Science Festival took place over five days in New York City in June. (You can find my blog posts from the festival here .) I attended four events on a range of fascinating topics, from the “elusive neutrino” to the disruptive technological power of the Internet. What was perhaps most intriguing,...

  • July 2, 2012
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    Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was born in the British century and lived half his life in the American century. Since the 21st century may turn out to be the Chinese/Indian century or the century of the global south, we will likely hear more, not less, about Tagore.

    Last year, during the 150th anniversary of Tagore’s birth, the West learned much about the “Shakespeare of India.” He is one of the world’s best-known poets, and in the East, the term poet still means something greater...

  • June 4, 2012
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    Superman turns 74 this month, so it’s not a bad time to assess the place of the Man of Steel in our collective consciousness. My own affection for him stems from the 1952 television series “Adventures of Superman,” starring George Reeves, which I watched as after-school reruns even before I went to school.

    In my mind the hero is inextricably linked to the Sears Wish Book. That aptly named digest of dreams arrived every October, allowing plenty of time before Christmas to peruse its...

  • April 30, 2012
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    It took a full year after we moved house, but finally last summer I tackled the bookshelves in our sun room. This was no small task. The bookshelves rise up 13 feet to the ceiling in this old house. There are lots of shelves and lots of books, too.

    When my husband started unpacking the boxes, he placed the books on the shelves randomly. Their arrangement was not a matter of urgency, since the volumes housed in this room comprised our “backlist”—coffee-table books, assorted fiction...