What Is America Connects?

Here is a selection of writing from Americas Web site. Currently, the site features two group blogs: The Good Word, on Scripture and preaching, and In All Things, both featuring daily commentary. Plus, you can find articles from the archive each week (under the banner In These Pages) and discussions of notable films and books. Also available are podcasts, video interviews and slide shows. We hope youll visit us at americamagazine.org as we continue to develop our Web edition. To view a list of Web-only material, click on America Connects, or scroll through our blogs, which can be accessed from the America home page.

Debating Mark Lillas new book, The Stillborn God,America Connects


The separation of church and state in the United States did not entail the great separation of religion and politics that Lilla seems to presuppose. The entanglement of religion and politics has been a constant in American history and most of the movements for social and political reform, from abolition to civil rights, utilized the discourse of political theology as much as secular political philosophy. American secularism and American liberalism owe more to the political commitment and the civil disobedience of religious fanatics and enthusiasts than liberal secularists like Lilla are willing to recognize.

José V. Casanova

An interview with John Slater, a Trappist monk and winner of our 2007 Foley Poetry Contest, America Connects

Do you see any connections between your vocation as a monk and your vocation as a poet?

There are many connections cloistered monastic life is something like living in a sonnet. There is a definite skeleton, a strict set of norms and limits given. For the poet, the rhyme-scheme and so on can challenge and stretch his imagination in fresh and surprising ways; they force him to question what is essential to the work and to prune away the superfluous. The rules exist to secure and support a certain inner libertyat the same time the very freedom unleashed, intensified by confinement in such tight quarters, tests and pulls against the edges.

Violence and the Old Testament,The Good Word

I find it overly simplistic to say that the God of the Old Testament is a God of war and that the God of the New Testament is a God of peace. In both [testaments] we are dealing with the same God. There is, to be sure, a shift in emphasis between the Old and New Testaments, but it is the same God who is loving and forgiving, who is angry and punishing. God in the Old Testament shows his love for his people in rescuing them from slavery and from their enemies.

In Hosea Gods mercy overrides his anger against his people. It is because he is God and not human that he will not carry out the punishment they so richly deserve (Hos 11:9). The Old Testament describes God as slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The language of violence is not absent from the New Testament. The war lamb of the Book of Revelation is not a warm and fuzzy creature. Eternal punishment is still on the horizon for those who fail to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned (Mt 25:41-46).

Pauline Viviano

Christmas at Harvard Divinity School,In All Things

Advent and Christmas, perhaps even more than other religious holidays, are at first a bit awkward at Harvard. While custom and the academic calendar combine to maintain the sense that December is a festive time, there is little room for a straightforward celebration of our Christian feasts; indeed, even to wish someone Merry Christmas! is an experimental venture, since going beyond the safer Happy Holidays! implies either knowledge about peoples religious persuasion and practice, or an (over)confidence that the Christian calendar still counts most. So the various parties, lunches and dinners celebrate this season, without further specification.

Francis X. Clooney, S.J.

His Dark Materials, Indeed,America Connects

Is The Golden Compass an appropriate film for Christians? Should parents take their children to see it, knowing it may spark their interest in reading the books? But of coursewe should not fear books or underestimate our children. Parents should be happy if their children want to read them. The potential harm is far outweighed by the definite good achieved by getting kids to read in general. Anti-Catholic fiction in this country has been around for as long as the United States has existedthink of the lurid escaped from the convent potboilers of another centuryand the church has survived and flourished.

James T. Keane, S.J.

The Church and the Fiction Writer, from March 30, 1957, In These Pages

It is popular to suppose that anyone who can read the telephone book can read a short story or a novel, and it is more than usual to find the attitude among Catholics that since we possess the truth in the Church, we can use this truth directly as an instrument of judgment on any discipline at any time without regard for the nature of that discipline itself. Catholic readers are constantly being offended and scandalized by novels they dont have the fundamental equipment to read in the first place, and often these are works that are permeated with a Christian spirit.

Flannery OConnor

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