Getting Rudy’s Catholicism right (well, mostly)


At the risk of not offending GR readers and generating few comments from said group, I offer a qualified endorsement of two stories about Rudy Giuliani’s Catholicism. A recent cover story in The New Republic linked Giuliani’s political outlook to his education in Catholic social teaching. Meanwhile, the latest Newsweek reports that Giuliani’s pro-choice stand will continue to draw outspoken opposition from traditional Catholics. While neither story offers sufficient perspective, each grasps an important truth about Giuliani: his Catholic upbringing continues to define him.

John Judis of The New Republic wrote the more intriguing of the two stories. Part of his thesis is that Giulianis’ lifelong efforts to combat crime and disorder with his Catholic education:

There are two aspects of Catholic philosophy that show up clearly in Giuliani’s political outlook. The first, which he would have found at almost any religious school, is a tendency to view politics and history as a moral contest between good and evil. That is sharply in contrast to a secular post-Enlightenment view of individuals–from presidents to petty thieves–as products of historical forces greater than themselves. The difference between Giuliani’s view and the secular one would show up in his attitude toward crime and criminals.

Second, Giuliani was exposed to a specifically Catholic (as opposed to Protestant-individualist) view of the relationship between authority and liberty–one that dates from Aquinas’s Christian Aristotelianism, was spelled out in Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical on the Nature of Human Liberty, and still enjoys currency today, even in the wake of Vatican II. Catholic thinkers do not see liberty as an end in itself, but as a means-a “natural endowment”–by which to achieve the common good. For that to happen, individuals have to be encouraged to use their liberty well; and that is where authority comes into play. Authority, embodied by law and the state, encourages–at times, forces–free individuals to contribute to the common good. Or, to put it in Aristotelian terms:Authority–by creating a just order–encourages liberty over license.

Judis’ point is well taken. It’s no accident that while mayor of New York that Giuliani cut crime and disorder. His Catholic schooling paved the way for his interest in the topic. Just think of his mayoral predecessors: Abe Beame, Ed Koch, and David Dinkins. None of them were educated at a Catholic high school and college as Giuliani was.

If Judis were an expert in Catholicism, he might have teased out how Giuliani was educated not just in Catholic philosophy but that of the Christian Brothers; Giuliani attended Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn and Manhattan College, both of which are Lasallian schools. (“St. John Baptiste De La Salle, pray for us! In our hearts forever!”). The Christian Brothers’ charism is aimed more at educating the working and middle classes, as opposed to the professional classes that the Jesuits aim to teach. But that’s asking a bit much of any writer.

My main criticism of Judis’ story, which is one I have of every story about Giuliani, is its failure to explore why Giuliani switched in 1989 from pro-life to pro-choice. While Judis notes that Giuliani changed his views in order to win the endorsement of the Liberal Party, this begs some serious questions. Did Giuliani believe he was making a pact with the devil? Or did he consider abortion a fringe issue?

While some readers will no doubt wonder why these questions should be asked in the first place, Newsweek ran an interesting story about the consequences of Giuliani’s pro-choice position:

Rudy’s Catholic problem is this: he is pro-choice, and 63 percent of white Catholics who go to mass weekly are not. This is a small activist group, yet they are determined, it seems, to see the former mayor fail. Before the Iowa straw poll in August, Fidelis — a Chicago-based conservative Catholic group — ran anti-Giuliani ads in Iowa pointing to the candidate’s longstanding pro-choice record.

… Now the U.S. Catholic bishops are raising their voices against Giuliani as well. Last week a number of activist bishops told Newsweek they would deny Giuliani communion for his views on abortion—if, after counseling, he continued to hold them. Their rhetoric emphasized human rights and first principles: almost every bishop interviewed by Newsweek called abortion an “intrinsic evil.”

Newsweek reporters Lisa Miller and Jessica Ramirez not only get religion, but they also broke ground in doing so. No other journalists have noted that Giuliani’s support for abortion rights has already drawn and will draw vigorous opposition from traditional Catholic leaders and activists.

The main weakness of their story is one of context. Like seemingly every story about religion and politics nowadays, it cites Pew for the statistic that Catholics have been moving right since 1992. Try 1972, when Richard Nixon became the first Republican to carry the Catholic vote since Calvin Coolidge. While some GR readers may protest that I am nitpicking here, I am not at all.

In any event, these two stories are to be praised, not condemned.

The Great Incremental Evangelical Crackup?

hype 02The evangelicals — why, they’re cracking up! They’re so over the Republican Party! They’re sick of hearing about abortion and gay marriage! They’ve matured! They’re concerned about global warming, Darfur, and poverty! They’re warming up to Hillary and Obama! Truly, a new day has dawned!

Stephanie Simon and Mark Z. Barabak of the Los Angeles Times are smart, discerning, and innovative reporters. So it says something that they have endorsed the Great Evangelical Crackup Thesis.

A fundamental shift is transforming the religious right, long a force in presidential politics, as aging evangelical leaders split on the 2008 race and a new generation of pastors turns away from politics altogether.

The result, in the short term, could be a boost for the centrist candidacy of former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose messy personal life and support for gay rights and legal abortion have not produced the unified opposition from Christian conservatives that many anticipated.

Over the longer term, the distancing of religious leaders from politics could prove even more consequential, denying the GOP one of the essential building blocks it has used to capture the White House in five of the last seven presidential races.

I think their story says something different from what they intended: The Great Evangelical Crackup Thesis is overstated and overhyped. By relying more on their rolodexes than the latest voting returns, they showed that their thesis isn’t, well, all that it’s cracked up to be.

Simon and Barabak quote from evangelical leaders, scholars, and reporters disillusioned with the Bush administration and the GOP. And to be sure, it’s noteworthy that John C. Green, the leading scholar of evangelical political behavior, believes that young evangelicals are growing weary of the Christian right. Yet it’s one thing for evangelicals to express disillusionment with Bush or the GOP. It’s another for them to proclaim allegiance to the Democratic Party or to say they are staying home in November.

Take the 2004 election. At the time, Christianity Today surveyed 40 influential evangelicals about their views of President Bush, and senior news writer Tony Carnes summarized their views this way: “Many of them spoke warmly about the President but also expressed clear disappointment with the administration, specifically his handling of foreign affairs, his inability to push the faith-based agenda through Congress, and the way he expresses his faith in public.” Well, in November their clear disappointment turned out to be rather opaque.

Perhaps anticipating this rebuttal, Simon and Barabak write that signs of the Great Evangelical Crackup occurred after the 2004 election: “In the three years since, many Christian conservatives have expressed a growing unease about the entanglement of politics and pulpit.” Well, certainly many have done so, but evangelicals continued to vote overwhelmingly for Republicans in 2006. As The Washington Post noted,

In House races in 2004, 74 percent of white evangelicals voted for Republicans and 25 percent for Democrats, a 49-point spread, according to exit polls. This year, Republicans received 70 percent of the white evangelical vote and Democrats got 28 percent, a 42-point spread.

To be fair, Simon and Barabak acknowledge that Democrats don’t “expect to swing the entire bloc of conservative religious voters their way next November,” and quote from an author who says that even a swing of 2 percentage points “would make a huge difference.” Well, this passage suggests that the “fundamental restructuring” of the evangelical vote is incremental, not fundamental.

Maybe the Democrats will nab an extra few percentage points of the evangelical vote in November. But can its presidential nominee replicate what congressional Democrats did?

Possibly, but the presidential and congressional wings of the Democratic Party are different birds. As a certain book Mollie referred to yesterday argues, secular liberals and religious liberals are much stronger in the presidential wing of the party. While the congressional wing urged pro-life Robert Casey Sr. to run for the Senate, the presidential wing denied his father a chance to address the delegates in 1992 because of his pro-life views, as a top DNC official admitted to me.

So isn’t the Great Evangelical Crackup incremental, if at all, rather than fundamental? That strikes me as the real question we reporters should ask.

Paging Pat Moynihan, long distance

1101670728 400 01Here we go again.

For various reasons, journalists have rarely done even an adequate job covering the decline and fall of the African-American family. The share of black babies born out of wedlock in the last four decades has soared to around 70 percent from 25 percent.

Tellingly, the original story was broken not by a reporter but by a young researcher at the U.S. Labor Department, who had grown up in a single-parent Irish Catholic household full of Democrats. In the liberal backlash to Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1965 report, journalists avoided discussing the topic of black family dissolution, fearing that they were “blaming the victim” or blaming blacks for centuries of racism and oppression. After black sociologist William Julius Wilson in 1978 made the subject respectable again, a few top journalists explored the topic, but they tended to rely on materialist explanations, such as the role of AFDC or welfare and the decline of good-paying, low-skill industrial jobs.

To be sure, it’s difficult for journalists to cover long-term, quantitative- and sociological-driven stories. Yet the story about black family decline has been going on for a long time, entering its fifth decade. Surely some journalist has identified the main problems.

Well, no, Which explains the stunned reaction to a report by the Pew Foundation about a sharp decline in black mobility. As The Washington Post reported in an A1 story:

Ronald B. Mincy, a Columbia University sociologist who has focused on the growing economic peril confronted by black men and who served as an adviser on the Pew project, said skeptical researchers repeatedly reviewed the findings before concluding they were statistically accurate.

“There is a lot of downward mobility among African Americans,” Mincy said. “We don’t have an explanation.”

Pew hopes to develop some answers in future reports in its series on economic mobility. Reports scheduled to be released early next year will probe, among other things, the role of wealth and education in income mobility.

Mincy and others speculated that the increase in the number of single-parent black households, continued educational gaps between blacks and whites and even racial isolation that remains common for many middle-income African Americans could be factors.

Journalists are given no more than speculation and resignation? Michael Fletcher of the Post should have looked elsewhere for his explanations of the trend.

Although the story no doubt has many parts, it’s clear that two key parts are the decline and fall of the two-parent black family and decline in religious attendance. Heck, haven’t we reporters checked out the debate in black America between Bill Cosby and Eric Michael Dyson? Or have we not read what social conservatives such as Maggie Gallagher and David Blankenhorn or black moderates such as Juan Williams had to say about these topics?

dpm lbyPat Fagan, a scholar at the Heritage Foundation, has emphasized the importance of religion and family structure well:

During the 1980s and 1990s, when religious practice decreased overall, the association between regular religious attendance and marital stability became even more apparent. Those who had ceased religious practice divorced 2.5 times more frequently than those who continued to attend religious services. Paul Amato, a leading authority on the sociology of divorce from Pennsylvania State University, concluded that a possible increase in religious practice among some already existing marriages might have offset the negative effects of the overall decrease in religious practice among many other Americans.

… Parents’ religious practice also counts. The greater the parents’ religious involvement, the more likely they will have higher educational expectations of their children and will communicate with their children regarding schooling. Their children will be more likely to pursue advanced courses, spend more time on homework, establish friendships with academically oriented peers, avoid cutting classes, and successfully complete their degrees.

It’s unlikely that the decline in religious attendance among African Americans and divorce (or marriages that never formed in the first place) entirely explain the jump in downward black mobility. But it’s surely more than what our fellow journalists have been telling us.

The Washington Post, by the way, was not the only major newspaper in serious denial about some of the moral and religious issues tied to this painful and tragic reality in American life. Check out the Los Angeles Times story on the same topic. Keep in mind that this information is at the very bottom of the report, literally the next to last paragraph. The key voice here is John Morton, director of this economic mobility study, who says that “changing family structures” are also a factor that must be considered.

“There is a higher prevalence of single-parent families at a time that it is increasingly important to have two salaries to maintain a standard of living,” Morton said.

And this is a new trend? Or is this now into its second or third generation? What would Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan have said about that?

Free to associate or discriminate?

free2 In my 11 years as a reporter, I can’t recall an editor or fellow journalist discussing the legal concept known as the “freedom of association.”

If debate over this Constitutional right arose, it came in the context of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which codified the idea that blacks’ right to be free from discrimination trumped the right of other Americans’ rights to associate with whomever they wish. So my experience has been that reporters don’t think much about the right of association, and when they do it has the whiff of racial discrimination about it. But what happens when the issue at hand is not race but religion and morality?

My impression is that a reporter tends to overlook the religious angle, rendering it a “ghost,” to use tmatt’s apt description. Such a sin of omission is unfortunate. We are downplaying the importance of American religious life. As Terry has pointed out, reporters fail to explain whether religious conservatives differ on freedom of association. Yet reporters fail to capture a divide between religious liberals and secularists, specifically atheists and agnostics.

David Herszenhorn of The New York Times reported that House Democrats were divided about legislation to forbid employment discrimination against homosexuals. One key dispute was over whether the bill should contain an exemption for religious organizations:

The Democrats also carved out a blanket exemption for religious groups, drawing the ire of civil liberties advocates who argued that church-run hospitals, for instance, should not be permitted to discriminate against gay employees. The civil liberties groups wanted a narrow exemption for religious employers.

On the House floor, Ms. Pelosi acknowledged challenges. “History teaches us that progress on civil rights is never easy,” she said. “It is often marked by small and difficult steps.”

Can the dispute between civil liberties groups and Speaker Pelosi be characterized as more than one between purists and pragmatists? How about a dispute between atheists and agnostics who seek to erode traditionally religious morality and religious liberals who believe that the views of religious traditionalists should be respected? A sentence about both, or either, would have been helpful.

Theresa Vargas of The Washington Post wrote about a pro-life teenager who started an anti-abortion club at her high school. The ghost in Ms. Vargas’s story is why exactly school administrators had initially denied the student’s request to start such a group:

School administrators initially turned down Hoffmeier’s request to start the club at Colonial Forge High School on the grounds that it was not tied to the school curriculum. She filed suit in federal court in Alexandria, contending that her proposal could not be denied when other clubs are allowed to form on campus. The suit put a spotlight on an often-misunderstood legal arena involving religion in public schools. Even some advocates of strict separation of church and state say religious speech by students at public school is protected under the Constitution and federal law.

Here we go again. Did school administrators disagree with the student’s aims, or seek to keep traditionally religious morality away from the classroom? We never find out.

Neither story suggests that the reporter overlooked the religious angle consciously. But the story is the worse for its absence. There’s another religion-shaped hole in the news.

What if Democrats exploit religious voters?

JesusRodeADonkeyRepublican leaders are often accused of manipulating religious Americans for their own ends. But what if Democratic leaders, who are courting religious voters, exploit them? Will reporters hold them responsible?

Newsweek‘s profile of a religious Democratic official was a discouraging sign. The story about Leah Daughtry, the DNC’s chief of staff and a Pentecostal minister, was almost completely free of religious content. Surely like any religious person, Daughtry must perceive some conflicts or tension between her faith and her party. Yet this story implies complete harmony between Daughtry and the Democratic Party, as if things are just peachy.

The party has tried preaching to religious voters in the past, encouraging Democratic candidates to talk about their personal faith; to adopt the GOP’s language of “values” and “morals,” and to quote from the Bible. But talking about faith can get the Democrats only so far, especially among conservative Christians, who will not vote for candidates who favor abortion and gay rights, no matter how often they go to church. Knowing this, Daughtry has set more-modest goals. “We want to maintain the groups we’ve traditionally held. African-American churches and mainline Protestants,” she says. But they’re also reaching out to religious voters she calls “persuadables,” more-liberal Catholic parishes that may be less stringent about abortion and a younger generation of evangelicals who say their faith teaches them that global warming and poverty are as important as trying to stop abortions and gay marriage.

Reporter Eve Conant does mention, twice, that Daughtry speaks in tongues. What she does not mention is that speaking in tongues is characteristic of Pentecostals, “Bible evidence” of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Which raises the question of what Daughtry thinks of the spiritual state of her colleagues in the DNC’s halls who don’t speak in tongues.

Conant does not describe at all Daughtry’s most distinguishing physical characteristic: her shaved head. Her visage might not sound like an issue, but it is one for pentecostals. The United Pentecostal Church International considers short hair on women to be unholy. As further evidence that the story missed this religious angle, Conant notes that, while growing up, Daughtry did not wear makeup. How has Daughtry reconciled or dealt with this tension?

And Conant does not mention at all Daughtry’s views on social and cultural issues. What does Daughtry think about the party’s secular stands on abortion, homosexuality, cloning, embryonic stem-cell research, etc.? As far as the United Pentecostal Church is concerned, those positions are wicked and sinful. [The General Council of the Assemblies of God takes the same stands.]

The story’s failure to mention those three conflicts is problematic. It creates the impression that Daughtry isn’t serious about her faith, that she views it as subservient to her politics. “We’re not talking about changing the party’s platform,” she tells Newsweek. “But there’s a way that we can explain ourselves and present ourselves that will resonate better.” Talk about manipulation. You wonder if Newsweek considered whether Democratic leaders are coming across as manipulative.

We’re not all secularists now

barackWhen I interned at The New Republic, an editor there told me something about Andrew Sullivan that I have been turning over in my mind ever since. Sullivan doesn’t care about Christianity, he said. He does care about Catholicism, but only because he grew up in the faith. For years, I failed to grasp what this editor meant. But after reading Sullivan’s panegyric on behalf of Barack Obama and reflecting on it, now I do. Sullivan is a secularist. For all of his love of Catholic rituals, he rejects and, in a few instances, disdains its morality and theology, not to mention its authority.

If Sullivan had reported his story thoroughly, talking to those familiar with Obama or digging through his old files, as Ryan Lizza did in a profile of Obama, his secular biases might have been tempered. But he did little more than interview Obama and refer to his two books. In consequence, Sullivan’s secular worldview reduces the story to a glorified press release for the Obama campaign.

Sullivan’s thesis is that only the Illinois Democratic senator can end the nation’s cultural war. By dint of his uniqe background, Obama can, finally, unite the country around important issues, not those that have bogged it down for two generations.

It isn’t about his policies as such; it’s about his person. (Many Republicans and independents) are prepared to set their own ideological preferences to one side in favor of what Obama offers America in a critical moment in our dealings with the rest of the world. The war today matters enormously. The war of the last generation? Not so much. If you are an American who years to finally get beyond the symbolic battles of the Boomer generation and face today’s actual problems, Obama may be your man.

Sullivan’s dismissal of the culture war is more than a little suspect coming as it is from a leading advocate for normalizing homosexual relations. In any event, few religious traditionalists would agree with his assessment. Take the issue of abortion. For religious traditionalists, all human life, regardless of its quality, has intrinsic value. So the fact that more than 45 million unborn children have been aborted since 1973 is a modern-day Slaughter of the Innocents.

Sullivan’s claim that Obama can transcend the culture war is partly based on the candidate’s religious background. Raised in a secular humanist household, Obama converted to Christianity as an adult. From this fact, Sullivan contends that Obama can unite secular and religious Americans, who are presumed to be Christians. As he writes,

(Obama can) deploy the rhetoric of Evangelicalism while eschewing its occasional anti-intellectualism and hubristic certainty is as rare as it is exhilarating. It is both an intellectual achievement, because Obama has clearly attempted to wrestle a modern Christianity from the encumbrances and anachronisms of its past, and an American achievement, because it was forged in the only institution where conservative theology and the Democratic Party still communicate: the black church.

What Sullivan overlooks is that on cultural issues, Obama’s Christian denomination is more secular than religious. The United Church of Christ supports unlimited abortion rights and homosexual marriage. As Pew notes, opposition to both is strongest among religious traditionalists.

More generally, Sullivan claims that Obama’s brand of faith sits astride two great fault lines in Western life. On one side are the secular totalitarianisms of the 20th century — fascism and communism. On the other are the existing religious totalitarianisms — Pope Benedict’s “doctrinal absolutism,” “fundamentalist Protestantism,” and “extreme and antimodern forms of Islam.” In the middle is Obama’s intellectual, genuine, and moderate faith.

This is a sly move on Sullivan’s part. He has repackaged liberal Protestantism as the centrist faith of the modern world. If he were writing about the early-to-mid 20th century, his claim would be arguable. But considering the worldwide decline of mainstream Protestant churches, his claim is silly.

It’s a pity. Occasionally in his rhetoric, Barack Obama does come across as a healer, not a divider. He talks of the common good as well as social and personal obligations. But from Sullivan’s piece, you would never know it.

Those parish school puzzles

catholic schoolsAre African Americans converting to Catholicism anymore? As Nicholas Lemann writes in The Promised Land, the old saying in Chicago was that when water was sprinkled on the forehead of a black baby, he or she was baptized essentially into three interlocking institutions: the Catholic Church, the Democratic Party, and the local buildings-trade union. Now one wonders what a future historian would write about the situation today.

This question should have come up in Carla Rivera’s otherwise fine story about the “grim economic reality” facing the nation’s Catholic schools. Ms. Rivera presented eye-popping statistics — there were 850 fewer Catholic schools in 2005 than 1990, and enrollment has dropped to a low of 2.3 million. She attributes this decline to fewer priests and nuns, a population shift from cities to suburbs, rising tuition costs. I don’t buy it.

Although no one familiar with Catholic schools would dispute those explanations, they tell only part of the story.

Suburbanization can’t be the main factor; Catholic schools have been overwhelmingly suburban since at least the 1970s. A declining share of priests and nuns can’t be the main factor, either; those figures plummeted in the 1970s and ’80s, yet the big drop-off did not occur until the 1990s. And rising tuition costs can’t be the top reason; as Ms. Rivera’s story implies, plenty of Hispanic kids are attending Catholic schools.

So there must be another reason or three in this what-dunit. One suspect clearly is the church-sex abuse scandal. Another is the reduced size of Catholic families, largely because of widespread use of birth control. Yet perhaps the most overlooked suspect is the failure of Catholics, black and white, to convert their black Protestant brethren or resistance by black Protestants to Catholic evangelization.

This explanation certainly resonates with me. My youngest sister, Sarah, teaches first grade at St. Elizabeth’s in west Oakland. When I was growing up in the 1970s and ’80s, St. Elizabeth’s student population was all black (Protestant). Now the school is virtually all Hispanic (Catholic).

My sister’s school is not alone. As The Washington Post noted recently, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington endured vituperation after he proposed secularizing numerous Catholic schools:

(S)ome parents and parishioners reacted angrily, saying Wuerl’s proposal would gut high-quality education for black children. The majority of the students in the schools that would be affected are black and not Catholic. The archdiocese subsidizes a large portion of their tuition.

According to Post reporters Theola Labbe and Jacqueline Salmon, Catholic officials blamed the introduction of Charter schools in the late 1990s:

Soon after he arrived in the District in June 2006, Wuerl said he heard from Catholic education officials that the inner-city schools were no longer financially viable. Part of the reason was that many poor families were choosing charter schools, which are free.

But the end of the Post story shows that charter schools can’t be the main reason. After all, Hispanics continue to attend Catholic schools in the diocese of Arlington, Va.:

There, school enrollment has swelled 25 percent. The diocese has opened eight elementary schools because of rapid growth in the area’s outer suburbs and rising numbers of Hispanic Catholic immigrants in the closer-in suburbs.

For whatever reason, black Protestants today are not following in the footsteps of their forebears in such black Catholic enclaves as Chicago and New Orleans. Granted, a reporter who nailed this story would deserve the Pulitzer. But he or she could explain why Catholic schools are diverse but, well, increasingly parochial.

About Mark Stricherz

MarkStricherzI wrote Why the Democrats Are Blue: Secular Liberalism and the Decline of the People’s Party (Encounter Books), released this October. The book touches on many subjects I intend to write about for GetReligion: the media’s treatment of secularism; the Catholic Church and Catholic social thought; American politics and government; and American mores and culture.

To see why I am interested in and qualified to write about these subjects, a little background seems in order.

I was born in San Francisco in 1970 and raised in the Bay Area. I earned a B.A. in political science from Santa Clara University and an M.A. in the social sciences from the University of Chicago. In between, I worked for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps to redevelop an inner-city neighborhood in Baton Rouge, La., and worked as a literary assistant at America.

After school, I became a newspaper reporter. My stories on a contracting scandal in Brentwood, Calif., led to the resignation of a top city official. In 1997, the late great Michael Kelly hired me as a reporter-researcher at The New Republic. I then covered Congress for States News Service and was a staff writer at Education Week.

My stories have been cited by The Week in August 2003 as among the best in the country and received an honorable mention in 2005 from Washington Independent Writers.

My articles have appeared in many national publications, including The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Weekly Standard, The New Republic, Christianity Today, Commonweal, National Catholic Register, and Inside Catholic. To research Why the Democrats are Blue, I received grants from the Phillips Foundation in Washington, D.C., and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation at the University of Texas in Austin.

I am the product of an eclectic, wonderful, and enfeebled Bay Area Catholic culture from the 1970s and ’80s. This helps explain why I play basketball and follow most team sports; love the Bay Area, especially San Francisco; read newspapers, magazines, and books; listen to U2, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and ’80s pop music; watch mainstream movies; jawbone with my friends; and attempt to follow the Seven Sacraments.

I live in Washington with my wife, Angy, and our daughter, Grace. We are parishioners at St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Capitol Hill.