Conversations at the intersection of politics, religion, and culture: Commonweal Magazine editor Dominic Preziosi hosts The Commonweal Podcast, a regular compendium of in-depth interviews, discussions, and profiles presented by Commonweal’s editors and contributors.
Ep. 46 - Broken Open
Sr. Simone Campbell, best known as the executive director of the NETWORK social justice lobby and organizer of the Nuns on the Bus tours, has been involved in political advocacy on behalf of the poor and marginalized for decades.
Less familiar, though, are the contemplative practices that ground Sr. Simone’s work—and that she describes in her new book, Hunger for Hope: Prophetic Communities, Contemplation, and the Common Good.
Speaking with Commonweal assistant editor Regina Munch, Sr. Simone talks about how the courage to confront our own brokenness can bring about personal and political healing in this fractured moment.
For further reading:
- Is There a Religious Left? by Kaya Oakes
- American Politics and Social Catholicism by E.J. Dionne, Jr.
- Griever-in-Chief by Paul Moses & Michael Connor
Ep. 45 - The Kids Are All Right
We all know the story of the “nones,” and the dire statistics about the decline of religious affiliation among young people. But these data hardly tell the whole story.
On this episode, managing editor Katie Daniels speaks with Ellen Koneck, herself a former Commonweal staffer and now head writer and editor at Springtide Research Institute. Their new report, The State of Religion and Young People, invites us to think differently about the religious practices and spiritual aspirations of Gen Z.
Sure, young people are skeptical of institutions and have lower levels of trust in traditional kinds of authority. But they’re also more open than ever to relationships that offer wisdom and support—and that’s exactly where religious leaders can meet them.
For further reading
- Further Adrift, Peter Steinfels
- Finding Our Way, Ellen Koneck
- Under Pressure, John Thornton, Jr.
Ep. 44 - Local People
Could rural America become a hotbed of progressive politics?
Luke Mayville, co-founder of the grassroots movement Reclaim Idaho and a lecturer of political philosophy at Boise State University’s Honors College, certainly thinks so.
His conviction comes from firsthand experience. In 2018, Mayville helped Idaho become the only predominantly rural state in America to approve Medicaid expansion in a statewide referendum.
On this episode, he talks with associate editor Matt Sitman about that campaign, arguing that if we want to pass more progressive legislation, we should put our energies into on-the-ground organizing and local persuasion.
For further reading
· Do Something Big, Luke Mayville
· Drinking Alone, Jonathan Malesic
· Democracy in America?, The Commonweal Editors
Ep. 43 - The Election & Social Catholicism
We are at a perilous moment in American history, and public Catholicism must rise to the task.
So says E. J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post columnist and Commonweal contributor.
He joins Commonweal editor Dominic Preziosi to discuss why American Catholicism needs to put aside culture-war rhetoric and return to its rich tradition of social thought—characterized by what he calls “radical moderation”—and how such ideas could play out in the upcoming election and beyond.
Suggestions for further reading:
· Radical, Moderate, and Necessary, E.J. Dionne Jr.
· The Faith of Amy Coney Barrett, Matthew Sitman
· Canons & the Candidate, Nicholas P. Cafardi
Ep. 42 - Killing Machines
Modern warfare has become an intensely scattered, depersonalized affair. Violence still rages and traumas proliferate, but often remotely, the carnage hidden from public view. So what’s the best way to write about it? How to convey the horror of armed conflict today?
Few writers do that as well as Phil Klay, who won the National Book Award for his 2014 short story collection, Redeployment, which is based on his experiences as a marine during the Iraq War. His debut novel, Missionaries, expands those insights through the interlocking stories of four characters living in Colombia, Yemen, and the United States.
In conversation with Commonweal critic Anthony Domestico, Klay shares insights into the ways that globalization, capitalism, and technological advances have made warfare both more deadly and less noticeable. A committed Catholic, Klay also discusses the sacramental worldview that undergirds his fiction, in which even death is “charged with the grandeur of God.”
Ep. 41 - White Churches & White Supremacy
For years, Black churches have worked tirelessly to advance the cause of racial justice in America. In many ways, their white counterparts have done the opposite.
White Christians are not simply complicit in racism and white supremacy, argues scholar Robert P. Jones. They’re actually culpable. Without their deliberate consent, white supremacy in America could never have been built.
That’s a shocking assertion. But citing historical evidence and contemporary survey data, Jones, in conversation with assistant editor Regina Munch, maps the long road white Christians must travel if they hope to ever atone for their sins.
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