Reviewed Elsewhere [Vol. 1, #42]

November 1, 2008


“Following Jesus in a Political Climate of Fear”
The Other Journal interviews Scott Bader-Saye

TOJ: Christian churches and communities are supporting both candidates, yet there is little primacy for Christian unity over and above political debate and unity. Should we be more actively considering Christian unity? And what are a few first considerations or things to consider in regard to fidelity to our Christian faith when assessing how to engage the politics defined by liberal procedural democracy?


SBS: Certainly in fearful times we need the support of strong communities. Indeed, I believe one of the causes of our fearfulness is our sense of moral, cultural, and familial fragmentation, our sense of being on our own as we face potential threats. Our fears about declining pensions and a failing social security system, for instance, tie directly into the cultural presumption that when you are old, you should not rely on others. The fear of “becoming a burden for my children” resonates strongly with many older people, but it seems to me that this fear is a result of our failure to create communities that joyfully “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). It may well be that children alone cannot meet all of the needs of aging parents; this is too great a weight to place on family when family no longer means an extended network of relatives who share a common life. This is why we need the church to take some of that pressure off of family by being extended family for each other in quite concrete ways. It’s easy for a parish to say, “We’re a family here,” but this lapses into sentimentality if it does not include practical assistance and mutual responsibility, such as opening our wallets to make sure one of our members has the medical care he or she needs.

Read the full interview:

Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear.
Scott Bader-Saye.
Paperback: Brazos Press, 2007.
Buy now [ Doulos Christou Books $18 ] [ Amazon ]

Byron Borger reviews
Andrew Krivak’s A LONG RETREAT

The Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life (FSG; $25.00) is the wonderfully rendered memoir of a Northeastern Pennsylvania boy who joins the Jesuit order, working for 8 long years in prayer, discernment, service, travel, study, and huge amounts of (hardly realized) self-doubt and the clarification of vocational discernment, to come to that place of needing to finally decide if he would make his final vows to pursue ordination.  Andrew Krivak is a very good writer, very aware of his own deepest issues and able to tell of his emotional and spiritual journey without sounding overly pious and certainly never sentimental.


It is a fabulous story, filled with romances (yes), weird colleagues, thoughtful spiritual directors, stirring scenes of social service and college teaching and urban ministry. (His harrowing account of a working with a manipulative, distressed student rivals the scenes of almost being mugged on ghetto streets by a drug dealer/pimp.)  He explains much about Catholic monastic life, about orders and vows and praying the Divine Hours which are revealing and demystifing—hearing about brothers arguing about who does the dishes, or being grumpy about another’s annoying habits was refreshing in a way.  Mostly, though, it is a long, long journey to figure out what in the hell to do with one’s longings, with certainity and uncertainity, with one’s sense of self and God.

Read the full review:

Andre Krivak.
Hardcover: FSG, 2008.
Buy now [ Doulos Christou Books $20 ] [ Amazon ]


In I WAS WRONG, Nick Smith identifies and characterizes the elements that combine to form meaningful, morally significant apologies. Additionally, Smith analyses the inadequacies of evasive, insincere, or otherwise defective apologies. Indeed, this book is perhaps most valuable as a field guide to inadequate apologies — that is, apologies that omit some element of an ideally meaningful apology. Some of the practices with which Smith takes issue will be familiar to anyone who pays attention to the lives of public figures, and Smith’s discussion is enhanced by a wealth of real-life examples involving such figures. Most of us have heard misbehaving politicians or celebrities offer vague admissions that “mistakes were made” or expressions of regret that “people were offended.” Smith aims to impose order and precision on our intuitive sense that something is amiss in these supposed apologies.

Read the full review:

Nick Smith.
Paperback: Cambridge UP, 2007.
Buy now [ Doulos Christou Books $22 ] [ Amazon ]