Russell Shaw

December 19, 2012

Tough religion and evangelization

By Russell Shaw

Much has been said lately about how to do evangelization. I've contributed a bit to that myself. Now I begin to think that, instead of always stressing niceness, it might be good to give tough religion a try.That idea was inspired by a reading of Eric Metaxas's biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran theologian and pastor executed by the Nazis near the end of World War II for  involvement in the plot against Hitler. Metaxas's book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Thomas...

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November 30, 2012

The post-election Church

By Russell Shaw

The cardinal looked grim. “This is the situation now,” he said. “One political party is dangerous and the other is stupid.”Since that was said in a private chat, it wouldn’t be fair for me to name the speaker. But his comment expresses sentiments that probably are widely shared in the American hierarchy today, as indeed they’re shared widely by many Americans. Bipartisan disgust with politics is a sorry byproduct of our recent, toxic election campaign. If the country should...

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November 16, 2012

On losing work

By Russell Shaw

If someone is looking for material for a book with a title like “Profiles of an Inhuman Economic System,” consider what follows to be a contribution to the cause. It’s about a man I know whom I’ll call Joe. The story was told to me by his wife. Joe is an honest, conscientious guy who, a couple of years out of school, went to work for a very large, nationally known company. He wasn’t exactly crazy about his job, and after a while he became aware that the company was systematically...

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August 29, 2012

Survey says

By Russell Shaw

Worried conservatives reacted negatively to the news that Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York had invited Barack Obama to the Al Smith Dinner in October. But the cardinal plainly believes the invitation serves the best interests of the Church – declaring war on the President of the United States by excluding him from this politically tinged festive event would hardly be helpful.That’s a reasonable position. But we need also to ask whether war has already been declared – not by the...

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August 13, 2012

Sunny side of persecution

By Russell Shaw

Will the present whiff of  secularist persecution be a help toward healing what ails American Catholics as a Church? Leaving aside predictions, I’ll only say: it may.Cardinal Timothy Dolan has a flair for getting people’s attention. The Archbishop of New York did that recently by declaring the Big Apple “mission territory.” Many other bishops could say the same of their sees. As far back as 1943 in fact, the famous Cardinal Suhard of Paris became forever linked to the title of a...

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July 27, 2012

The crisis of community

By Russell Shaw

In recent years social critics like Robert Putnam (Bowling Alone) and Charles Murray (Coming Apart) have documented and deplored a decline of community among Americans. It’s a development that affects churches along with other institutions of civil society.But “decline of community” is an abstraction and hardly self-explanatory. A story told by a man I know offers a concrete illustration:“My wife and I have lived for many years in a nice, quiet neighborhood inhabited by nice, quiet...

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July 13, 2012

The Vatican's real communication problem

By Russell Shaw

“Smart move.” That’s how many loyal Catholics reacted to the announcement that the Vatican had hired a veteran American newsman as a consultant to grapple with its communication problems. In many respects, the reaction was correct. As an experienced professional with Fox News and Time, and a serious Catholic, Greg Burke is an excellent choice for a tough assignment. (Disclosure: he’s also an old friend.) But the question remains: Will he be permitted to do the job? Neither Burke...

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June 29, 2012

The 'Catholic sensibility' of George W. Bush

By Russell Shaw

Does George W. Bush have a “Catholic sensibility?” Tim Goeglein thinks so, and he’s better situated than most people to know. For seven-and-a-half years Goeglein was deputy director of the public liaison office of the Bush White House, with frequent opportunities to observe the president up close.The results can be seen in his memoir “The Man in the Middle” (B&H Books) – a volume that might be called “Bush and I.” When revisionist historians come to the Bush presidency,...

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June 15, 2012

Political partisanship

By Russell Shaw

A prominent Republican congressman, a Catholic, says his economic proposals reflect the social doctrine of the Church. Statements from the bishops’ conference dispute that, and some faculty at Georgetown University tell the congressman he isn’t welcome there. (They aren’t known to have objected when, several weeks later, Kathleen Sebelius of ‘HHS mandate’ fame spoke at a Georgetown commencement event.)The Bishop of Peoria, Ill. likens policies of the Obama administration to the...

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June 04, 2012

Court nominations

By Russell Shaw

With the exception of Bush v. Gore, which in effect confirmed George W. Bush’s victory in the 2000  presidential election, it would be hard to think of another recent Supreme Court case that’s been the occasion of as much advance tugging and pulling from outside sources as the court’s anticipated ruling on Obamacare. The decision is expected before the justices quit for the summer late in June.Even Barack Obama lost his presidential cool and indulged in a burst of preemptive huffing...

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