What I’m Reading: For the Union and the Catholic Church by Max Longley

What I’m Reading: For the Union and the Catholic Church by Max Longley August 26, 2015

Worth noting from the review pile: For the Union and the Catholic Church: Four Converts in the Civil War by Max Longley, McFarland & Company, 2015.

So far so good.  It’s a look at the civil war through the eyes of four notable Union-side Catholic converts – the first black American priest; a general and his brother a bishop; and the editor of a Catholic newspaper.  Already the fight is getting good here:

Nor was Rosecrans hesitant to mingle religion with antislavery views.  The previous year, campaigning in Kentucky, Rosecrans had dined with Bishop Martin Spalding of Lousville.  General Rosecrans, in Spalding’s words, “thrusting on us the odious subject of abolition.”

Bishop Spalding’s efforts to persuade the Vatican to take a more Confederate view of things get chronicled farther along.  What I’m loving so far about the book is the complexity: Nobody’s got neat, clean 21st century politics.  Motives are mixed, or sometimes not so much motives as habits.

Amid the big moral struggles of the day, Longley gives us the tremendous humanity of it all.  Was a certain Fr. Tucker racist, ambitious, or just a jerk?  Longlely lays out the evidence for and against and then observes:

It may well be that Fr. Tucker’s gripes about Healy were part of a more general misanthropy which he would have expressed toward a priest of any race who was in a position of authority over him.

By all evidence, if he had lived today, Fr. Tucker would have had a blog.

Well worth a look.  I’m enjoying this one immensely, no plans to put it down.

Cover image courtesy of McFarland & Company.


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