November 30, 2012

Book review: “Carry the One” by Carol Anshaw

Here’s what I hate. I hate that it doesn’t matter if we see each other. There’s still this connection, between me and him because we were both in the car. Like in arithmetic. Because of the accident, we’re not just separate numbers. When you add us up, you always have to carry the one. Alice is talking with her sister Carmen about a folksinger they know named Tom. He is fatuous and self-centered, and they don’t really like him. But, because of a car crash in 1983, they don’t have a choice. It was in rural Wisconsin, on the day that an already pregnant Carmen married Matt. It was sometime after midnight; everyone was worn out from a day of revelry. Crowding into the last car to leave were five of the guests — Nick (the brother of Carmen and Alice), his girlfriend Olivia, Tom, Alice and her new lover Maude (the sister of Matt). Nick and Olivia, who was driving, were high. As the car drove away, Carmen noticed that its headlights weren’t on. “Hey,” she shouted. “Your lights!” When the car disappeared from view, Matt said, “She’ll figure it out eventually.” A few minutes later, the car was […]
November 28, 2012

Book review: “The Photo Album of St. Therese of Lisieux,” commentary by Rev. Francois de Sainte-Marie

I grew up with the idea that St. Therese of Lisieux was a somewhat insipid saint. There were images of her all over the place, and each tended to be some version of the middle section of the triptych above, a painting of St. Therese by her sister Celine, Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face. During her long life, Celine cranked out paintings, watercolors and drawings that attempted to capture the ideal image of her younger sister. As Father Francois notes in the 1962 book The Photo Album of St. Therese of Lisieux, this was the style of religious art at the time. In doing so, however, Celine hid Therese rather than revealed her. Photos of a saint Then, in 1997, during my long career as a Chicago Tribune reporter, I was out doing a story about interesting places throughout the suburbs and came across the National Shrine of St. Therese of Lisieux in Darien.
November 26, 2012

Book review sidebar: “Life” by Keith Richards

In the review I posted a few days ago, I mentioned that the best part of “Life,” the autobiography of Keith Richards, is his description in musical terms of the creation of many Rolling Stones songs. Even for a non-musician like me, these paragraphs were revealing. They have helped me listen to those Stones songs in a new way and enjoy them even more. I decided to write this sidebar to that review in order to focus on another service that Richards provided, albeit indirectly. Throughout the books, he mentions, to one extent or another, various musicians who influenced him and various Stones songs with which I was somewhat or totally unfamiliar. For instance, early on, Richards is talking about various singers and groups he liked when he was 15. One is Johnny Restivo who was known for his song “The Shape I’m In.” Because the Band has a song of the same title, I tracked down Restivo’s tune, and it turns out that he’s a Buddy Holly sound-alike, and his song shares only the title with the Robbie Robertson tune. A pro Then there’s Wizz Jones,
November 23, 2012

Book review: “Life” by Keith Richards

Keith Richards’s autobiography “Life” is irritating, frustrating, disappointing and, at times, revealing. When I say “revealing,” I’m not talking about his tales of extensive drug use which, at a guess, take up probably a third of the book. What he was using when is of little interest to me. And I’m not talking about his attitudes towards women whom — no surprise — he often refers to as “bitches.” I’m talking about the real insights he gives the reader into the creation of many Rolling Stones songs, a detailed recounting of his contribution in terms of chord progressions, riffs and other musical elements to such songs at the core of rock ‘n’ roll as “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Gimme Shelter” and “Satisfaction.” “Imagining horns” Regarding that last tune, he writes:
November 23, 2012

Book review: “An Irrepressible Hope: Notes from Chicago Catholics,” edited by Claire Bushey

There is a great deal of yearning in the newly published “An Irrepressible Hope: Notes from Chicago Catholics.” And some bitterness, too. But that is to be expected. Edited by Claire Bushey and published by ACTA, this book is a collection of 33 essays that, on one level, serves as a sort of primer for the next archbishop of Chicago. The idea for the book was sparked earlier this year when Cardinal Francis George turned 75 and submitted his letter of resignation to Pope Benedict XIV. It was, as George said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, “formula almost,” a requirement under Vatican rules. As the Cardinal indicated, the resignation wasn’t something the Pope was likely to act on for at least two years. But George’s new health concerns — a recurrence of cancer in August — may accelerate the process. A mirror On a deeper level, though, the 84-page book has a much broader audience — all Chicago-area Catholics and, indeed, all American Catholics.
November 19, 2012

A kind of martyrdom

In 2010, Janine Denomme died of cancer. We were members of the St. Gertrude parish in Edgewater. We served on the parish council together. Janine was one of the pillars of the parish. But, when she died, we couldn’’t host her funeral. The archdiocese said she couldn’’t be buried out of any Catholic church —— because, a month earlier, Janine had been ordained a priest by the Roman Catholic Womenpriests organization. Janine loved the church, even though, as a lesbian, she argued with some Catholic teachings. She sought priesthood to be even more closely involved in the church’’s mission. Women would make great priests. Just look at the deeply spiritual, vibrantly active female pastors in other Christian faiths as well as the women serving as rabbis. Just look at the women doctors, public officials, firefighters, college professors, judges, editors, CEOs, and cops —— to name just a few professions that were closed or all but closed to women, just 50 years ago. The world is better for the talent, worldview, and energy that women bring to those jobs. The church would be better with women priests for the same reason. I am certain in my bones that, someday, maybe sooner […]
November 18, 2012

Book review: “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs

A half century after its publication in 1961, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” is a complex document to read. I approached the Jane Jacobs masterpiece with a bit of guilt since I’d never previously read it, even though I’d spent a career as a newspaper reporter covering urban planning issues and am now writing a history of Chicago. But then an urban affairs expert I respect told me, “Oh, nobody reads the whole thing.”
November 13, 2012

Katey Feit: Listening to the voice inside

Jesus was a carpenter, and the people in Nazareth knew him as one of the village’s young men. Then he heard the “still, small voice” of his Father and began his ministry. Katey Feit grew up in my parish, St. Gertrude, on the Far North Side of Chicago. She was the product of a middle-class family, the third child of six, the second girl. She went to grade school at St. Gertrude and later trained to be a pediatric nurse. Then, she followed the stirrings of her conscience and went to prison. In their quiet way Today, when there is much about the Catholic church that is disturbing — the pedophile scandal, the way the Vatican is bullying nuns — I take heart from people like Katey who, in their quiet way, provide an example of living a good life.
November 2, 2012

No sample ballot from the Vatican

I’m Catholic, and I vote. But I don’t get my sample ballot from the Vatican. Don’t get me wrong. I listen to what official church leaders have to say about the issues — about war and peace, about abortion and gay rights, about immigration and the treatment of the poor. I also listen to the moral teachings of Jesus in the gospels. I meditate on the Bible. I read the news. I study history. I talk with other Catholics and with non-Catholics. I reflect on my experience in life. For instance, the Catholic Church is officially against gay marriage. I don’t agree. I have friends who are gay couples. They are married whether they have a piece of paper or not. They are in love for the long haul. Some raise children, and, as parents, they are as proud, doting, frazzled and affectionate as my wife Cathy and I have been with our two kids. I do not understand the opposition to the idea of two men loving each other, or two women loving each other. To my mind, any increase in love in the world is a good thing. Catholic gay marriage At some future date, the Catholic Church […]