Radically Catholic in the Age of Francis (Introducing Solidarity Hall Press)

Radically Catholic in the Age of Francis (Introducing Solidarity Hall Press) April 24, 2015

I’ve been watching the mailbox like a kid at Christmas.  Except we’re in Easter, so alleluia!  My cause for rejoicing today is the arrival of my honest-to-goodness paperback copy of Solidarity Hall‘s inaugural publication, Radically Catholic in the Age of Francis, in which I and a few of my fellow Vox Novians (previous contributors Sam Rocha, Mark Gordon, and Tony Annett, who has blogged here as Morning’s Minion) are honored to have essays included among a delightfully unpigeonholeable mix of thinkers and doers – as Elias Crim calls us in his introduction, “an almost Chaucerian mix of pilgrims”.

What holds this mix together is a common search for alternatives to the cheap ideologies that have come to dominate modern American public discourse (or, to again borrow Crim’s phrasing, “the idea that mailing list politics discharges your obligations to society”), and that we are seeking such alternatives in (at the risk of redundancy) a radical rootedness in the fullness of the living Tradition of the Church.

Anyone expecting the identification as “Radically Catholic” to signify a staking-out of any such ideology will be either pleasantly surprised or sorely disappointed.  And as for trying to do something like the opposite under the banner of Pope Francis in particular, I think this signifies as much as anything his ability to hold up our living Tradition’s treasures in a fresh light, showing the world a vision so ancient it looks radically new.  Editor Daniel Schwindt’s epilogue gives a full-orbed and clarifying explanation of this particular invocation of the Holy Father, who

is ready at every moment to mingle acts of mercy with calls for justice.  He does not fear paradox.  He is capable of writing theology, but he prefers a gospel of encounter.  He does not lead with condemnation; he leads with the caress.  He affirms neither Right nor Left, neither socialist nor capitalist.  He moves through such mental barricades as if they were not even there, declaring openly the hollowness of ideology.

That is essentially the kind of vision this motley crew of pilgrims is tasked with unpacking out of our diverse mix of backgrounds and foregrounds.  As Elias Crim is fond of saying, “Check thou it out.”

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  • trellis smith

    Good luck with that. I don’t think the Pope is devoid of his biases and ideology and neither are the contributors. So though I might not buy into the premise but for all that I have no doubt there may be some interesting readings.

    • Julia Smucker

      Actually, you’re right: nobody is devoid of biases, not me or any of my fellow contributors or the pope himself. So I’m sorry if I’ve given any impression of a pretense of objectivity.

      Still, I believe this is all the more reason to make every effort we can to resist the idolatry of ideology, and recognizing it as such is a necessary beginning. I think that’s a large part of what this book, and Solidarity Hall in general, and at its best Vox Nova in general, are trying to accomplish, despite the writers’ inevitable human imperfections.

  • I ordered the book when I saw among the contributors the names Patrick Deneen, Sam Rocha and Julia Smucker. I did not know the real name of Morning’s Minion. If I had, I might have had some misgivings about the purchase . . .

    • Julia Smucker

      Just to be clear, his identity was revealed with permission.

      • This is a wonderful book. I have not finished it yet, but I began recommending it on my FB page as soon as I read the first essay in it. For the record, Tony Annett’s piece–one of the longer and more difficult in the collection–is simply brilliant.