Russell Shaw

February 06, 2015

The problem of unserious politics

By Russell Shaw

I try to take American politics seriously, I really do. Serious issues are at stake, after all. But sometimes, entirely too often in fact, the realities of American political discourse  make taking it seriously awfully hard. Considering the seriousness of what’s at stake, this may be what hearing Beethoven’s Ninth performed on the harmonica would  be like.A while back Jeb Bush, speaking to a group in San Francisco, promised that if he runs for president next year, he will offer the...

(Read more)

January 23, 2015

Ideals and Norms

By Russell Shaw

Is the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage, including indissolubility, an ideal or a norm? Although the question may sound abstract, even esoteric, it has urgent, immediate practical implications. To say one admires the Church’s teaching as an ideal is, intentionally or not, to undermine that teaching in the act of admiring it.Here is the key to understanding a struggle that surfaced at last October’s Synod of Bishops on marriage and is likely to continue at the synod next fall....

(Read more)

January 08, 2015

Great Society

By Russell Shaw

President Lyndon Baines Johnson had spoken the words “Great Society” before, but on January 4, 1965 he brought the pieces together as a legislative package for Congress. His State of the Union message stirred a remarkable flurry of congressional activity that in short order produced major new programs in civil rights, health care, and anti-poverty.In the half-century since then, the Great Society and its offspring have made profound changes in American society. A huge increase in...

(Read more)

January 05, 2015

Real Life Heroes: Unknown and Unrecognized

By Russell Shaw

Let’s face it, 2014 was a rotten year for heroes and hero worship. Sure, it brought plucky, admirable people who did praiseworthy things. But all too often their good deeds were upstaged by the misdeeds of individuals in many walks of life—entertainers, politicians, sports figures, even clergy—jostling one another in their rush to trip over their feet of clay and drag their reputations in the dust.Of course this wasn’t new. “Say it ain’t so, Joe,” was the famous lament of a...

(Read more)

December 12, 2014

The Culture War

By Russell Shaw

For months after the Supreme Court abruptly legalized abortion in its Roe v. Wade decision of January 1973, people who welcomed the result repeatedly declared that the struggle over abortion had now come to a close. The Supreme Court had spoken, the matter was settled, and prolifers could pack up and go home.Some of the people saying that probably believed it, and for others it was wishful thinking. But in still other cases a different motive appeared to be at work. Declaring the fight...

(Read more)

November 28, 2014

Dietrich von Hildebrand vs. Hilter and the Nazis

By Russell Shaw

To many Germans in the early 1930s, Adolf Hitler looked like just what Germany needed. Here, they imagined, was a charismatic leader capable of restoring social stability, economic prosperity, and national honor to their battered country. Relatively few saw Hitler for what he was—a megalomaniac demagogue driven by racial fantasies that included hatred for Jews and contempt for Christianity.Dietrich von Hildebrand was one of those few. He discerned the terrifying truth about Hitler and the...

(Read more)

November 13, 2014

The crisis the synod ought to have talked about

By Russell Shaw

During the 10:30 Mass in my parish a couple of Sundays ago 32 boys and girls stood in front of the altar, faced the congregation, and formally affirmed their desire to be confirmed. It was part of the preparation for administering the sacrament next spring, and for many of us in that church it was a moving moment.But the occasion was darkened for me by something I’d read just a few days earlier. If those 32 young people conform to the national averages, fewer than half of them will...

(Read more)

November 03, 2014

Our new Mideast war

By Russell Shaw

The headline on a recent Washington Post Op-Ed about the rise of the Islamic State proclaimed “The Return of Evil.” Although one was tempted to reply that evil never went away, the headline writer had a point—the post-Cold War 1990s in the United States were indeed marked by naïve optimism that the era of conflict had ended and the world could now look forward to universal peace, prosperity, and democratic governance: the end of history, in other words.As we now see all too...

(Read more)

October 20, 2014

The Francis Effect and the Chicago Appointment

By Russell Shaw

At the American bishops’ fall general meeting last year reporters pressed hard to find signs of the Francis effect. But when the bishops gather next month in Baltimore, the press corps can relax. All they need do now to observe the Pope’s impact on the American hierarchy is take a look at the newly named Archbishop of Chicago, Blase Cupich.The surprise appointment of Archbishop Cupich, 65, to succeed Cardinal Francis George as head of the nation’s third largest diocese, the...

(Read more)

September 08, 2014

Don Alvaro

By Russell Shaw

As Pope John Paul II was leaving Opus Dei headquarters in Rome after paying his respects at the wake of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, someone thanked him for coming. The Pope, a future saint, replied, “Si doveva. Si doveva”—I had to.It was common knowledge that John Paul didn’t usually take time out for events like this. So why “I had to” in the case of Bishop del Portillo, the Prelate of Opus Dei? Friendship was one—the two men went back a long way—but also the fact that...

(Read more)

Recent activity:

Follow us:

Check out Catholic News Agency Polls on LockerDome on LockerDome