Today marks the relaunch of the Catholic Book Club, a literary enterprise originally begun by the editors of America in 1928. In his introduction to the new club, Kevin Spinale, S.J., sketches the history and goals of the Catholic Book Club, and what it can offer to readers today.
On Friday March 22, Kevin lead a discussion of the first book chosen by the new CBC, The Patriarch by David Nasaw:
The life of Joseph P. Kennedy teaches us about the reality of urban and national politics in the U.S., the world wars, insights into the workings of American financial system, the personality and genius of FDR, the activity of a presidential campaign and the diminishment of a irrepressible man ground down by a string of personal tragedies. It is the history of a Catholic who dealt with prejudice and exclusion because of his Catholicism as well as a Catholic who was ultimately rejected by the institutional church in the United States. In short, it is the fascinating life of a man who embodies the complexities of human nature.
The Book Club exists to cultivate meaningful discussion about meaningful books. In order to facilitate discussion about the book, I offer some questions here for discussion. I welcome everyone to contribute answers to these questions, your own questions, or any reactions you have to Prof. Nasaw’s book.
1. Having considered the entire life of Joseph Kennedy, from his days as “Honey Fitz’s son-in-law,” to his unrivaled financial success, to the death of his four eldest children and his own death, was Joseph Kennedy a happy man?
2. Knowing both the affection he showed his children and the way he conducted his own personal life, was he a good father?
3. Do you agree with Richard Cardinal Cushing’s assessment of the American Hierarchy’s rejection of John F. Kennedy as a presidential candidate in 1960? (Nasaw, p723-725) How has the 1960 election affected Catholic candidates for political office in the United States today?
A podcast interview with David Nasaw will be posted online next week. In the meantime, we encourage you to pick up the book, read it all or just a few chapters, and join us for our discussion on March 22.