Admit it - none of the really good bowl games are until Monday. So, over the weekend, take a cup of coffee and about ten minutes to read and digest this thought-provoking essay in the Times Literary Supplement, reviewing three books on Jesus, including Pope Benedict's second volume. You will not regret the time.
Robert P. Jones, of the Public Religion Research Institute, lists his top eleven findings of 2011.
Of special note are the decoupling of views on abortion and same-sex marriage, the continued high rate of support for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship, and, very sadly, continued ambivalence about Islam.
The decoupling of views on abortion and same-sex marriage shows that young people remain responsive to pro-life concerns even while their familiarity with gay men and women makes them less likely to oppose their right to marry. Of course, for RCs, marriage is not a right but a sacrament, but I wonder if the Church should not find a better way to navigate the issue than they have done so far. As I have noted before, the fight for traditional marriage took its strongest body blow with the advent of no-fault divorce laws, not the movement for gay marriage rights.
The continued high rate of support for immigration reform shows one thing: The issue only needs some leadership.
Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany has three commentaries about his recent ad limina visit to Rome. They are long but read quickly and give one of the best eyewitness accounts of these visits I have ever seen in print. And, great to see Msgr. Steve Rossetti get such a prominent shout out from Cardinal Ouellet for his book on the presbyterate?
Here are the links to Bp Hubbard's essays:
Five days and counting. The Iowa caucus will finally get the voters, or at least some of them, a chance to weigh in on the GOP presidential nomination. Of course, the Iowa caucuses will only test the views of those brave souls willing to come out on a cold January night and sit through an hour-long caucus. And Iowa, which is 91 percent white, largely rural, and large numbers of motivated evangelicals, is hardly a microcosm of the country. But, better the decision rest with some voters than with only pundits.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney appears to have the wind at his back. His opponents are scrambling to become the un-Romney and, consequently, have been taking shots at each other rather than at Romney. Additionally, Romney threw plenty of negative ads against Newt Gingrich, the only opponent who could appeal to both the conservative base and establishment Republicans. Just as the non-stop negative ads that Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt threw at each other in 2004 paved the way for a surprise victory by John Kerry in the Hawkeye State, Romney is benefiting from being above the fray.
I am about to commence the trip back to DC with the dogs, two new sweaters, and lots of coffee. So, I shall not be posting this morning.
I invite readers to go to the "Reader's Choice" post where I ask you to submit the name(s) of the book(s) you most liked in 2011. Already, I see some fine suggestions.
And, tune back tomorrow for some pre-Iowa caucus analysis including a look at Romney's horrendous pro-life record, Gingrich's campaign difficulties, and why the Santorum boomlet can't last.
Over at Il Sussidiario, Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete has some thoughtful reflections on the historicity of Christmas and Hannukah and why we can never consent to our celebrations be severed from their historical origins. Great stuff as always.
The combox is wide open. What was the best book you read this past year dealing with either the Church or politics?
My nominee is Professor Charles Camosy's "Too Expensive to Treat?: Finitude, Tragedy and the Neonatal ICU"
I wrote a brief review of Camosy's book here. Camosy looks at an urgent modern issue through the lens of both ancient and modern moral teachings, unearthing in the process the richness of Catholic moral thought and its continued relevance to today.
In case you missed it in the print edition, here is my short history of partisanship in the pulpit, and how it may be changing.
Was Marx right? Is rural life inherently inferior to its urban counterpart?
This question always strikes me when I return home to the little town in Connecticut where I grew up. I have lived in Washington, D.C. since 1980 and clearly have made my choice, although I cherish my visits here. I returned to rural Connecticut for extended stays only twice, once to work on a campaign and once to care for my parents after they were in a car accident. Each time, I was relieved to return to the imperial city.
If you have never seen "Real Catholic TV" with Michael Voris, do not watch it unless you have a strong stomach for vitriol and venom. The Archdiocese of Detroit took the extraordinary step of posting the following notice just before Christmas: