It is a strange time to be Catholic, like it always is, in that one is both centuries old and modern at once. This feeling seems amplified in light of the current election cycle, in which every value we hold has become something to fight for or lose. Existing in modern America as a Catholic has become somewhat of an ideological circus act. On the one hand, we have a Pope now who calls out incongruences and flaws when he sees them; on the other hand, many of these incongruences and flaws are our own. We are not done excoriating ourselves, neither for our scandals nor our exclusions. This looking in and bearing it outward is an essentially Catholic thing, but so are those impulses for social justice, the compassion for immigrants because we were immigrants, and all the other ideas based on love that suddenly feel at stake in America in 2016.
For guidance in moments like this, Catholics are taught to examine the people in their past. The links below are to book review content surrounding two such figures, Mother Theresa and Thomas Merton, who led such different lives (both from each other and from any of us here now) that it’s a wonder their core beliefs can be grouped together at all. It is hard to imagine these historical figures fitting into the fabric of today, and that is partly the point: this feeling many of us have of not quite belonging, whatever our identifiers might be, is not a reason we should change what we are. We should feel bolstered. The best of my group felt this way, and the best of yours almost certainly did too.
Some of Rain Taxi’s top Catholic-themed reviews:
Review by Chris Beal of An Unquenchable Thirst by Mary Johnson (Fall 2012, Online)
Review by Donald Lemke of Catholic Boys by Philip Cioffari (Winter 07/08, Online)
Review by Joel Weishaus of Merton and Buddhism by Fons Vitae (Winter 07/08, Online)