At press time, just 36 hours have passed since Shane Victorino’s bottom-of-the-seventh grand slam sent the Boston Red Sox to the 2013 World Series. That lone exuberant voice you heard yelping late Saturday night in Westchester, N.Y., where I was staying for the weekend, was mine. In Westchester, as in Manhattan, I am “a stranger in a strange land,” as Moses once said, a lone Bosox fan among the countless minions of that diabolical “other,” a certain Bronx ball club that is our nemesis, scapegoat and not infrequent excuse for another pint.
I confess to the sin of pride here. In my defense, however, the more than eight-decade World Series drought endured by my home town meant that it wasn’t even possible to commit that particular sin during the first 32 years of my life; so you can cut me a little slack. Also, it’s not entirely my own doing. I inherited my deep-seated fanaticism from my mother, who was born in New York and then moved to Massachusetts as an adult. My mother, therefore, was a convert to the Red Sox and, like many converts, she was especially zealous in the defense of her new faith.
All that aside, I can’t shake the feeling that if I were a better man, a better Christian, I would’ve been rooting for the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night. If any place in the United States really needs a shot in the arm right now, an injection of hope and joy that a trip to the World Series can bring, then it’s the city of Detroit. “A casual cruise through Detroit offers plenty of evidence of the municipal apocalypse often depicted in the national media,” Kevin Clarke writes in this issue. Abandoned infrastructure, municipal bankruptcy, and lingering and pernicious racial strife are perduring themes in the story of modern Motor City. But Mr. Clarke tells us another side of the story: the indefatigable spirit of Detroit’s people and their hopes for the future of their city.
The late John F. Kavanaugh, S.J., liked to remind his America readers that all stories—about Detroit, the church, the marketplace—are about people. “For John,” Jeanne Schuler writes in her tribute to the Jesuit philosopher and social activist, “the human person is the perennial topic that provides the measure needed to think through the issues we face.”
Father Kavanaugh’s brand of personalism is also evident in John Savant’s thoughtful reflection on the gap between economics and theology: “A fully human approach to economic justice,” Dr. Savant writes, “would join the science of economics with the mystery of the human person.”
Dr. Savant’s article is a response to an article we published last May in which Dr. Stacie Beck asked whether Catholic social activists are too suspicious of market forces and too quick to reach for public sector solutions to economic problems. We got a lot of mail about Dr. Beck’s article. Most of it was thoughtful and engaging; some of it was not. As I wrote at the time, if we are doing our job right, then you should read something in every issue that challenges you, something with which you might even strongly disagree. America is a ministry of the church; there is no faithful Catholic voice that is not welcome in these pages.
What is “a faithful Catholic voice”? Good question. There is no magic formula. Indeed, the more formulaic our answer, the more likely it is to be wrong. That’s because, as this issue reminds us, the question involves people—people who are created in the image of God, in all of their beauty, in all of their maddening complexity. Whatever else is required, then, charity is the quality we need most; the kind of charity so many of you extended to Professor Beck, the kind of charity I regrettably failed to extend to the Detroit Tigers and, admittedly, I will always struggle to extend to the New York Yankees.