It seems a new undergraduate blogger is sweeping the American Catholic millenial imagination (and computer screen). If I’ve been asked, “Have you heard of this ‘Bad Catholic’ blog?” once in the past month, I’ve been asked six or seven times. Authored at Patheos.com by blogger Marc Barnes, ‘Bad Catholic’ has more than 10,000 likes on its Facebook page, with undoubtedly thousands more blog followers. Focusing on issues in the contemporary Church, as well as bringing Catholicism and secular culture into conversation, Barnes’ blog has not only taken young Catholics by storm, but has sparked inter-religious debate and even been noticed by the likes of Jonathan Fitzgerald in the Wall Street Journal.
A college student, Barnes’ shares his views on topics as far ranging as politicization in the Church, virtue ethics, the theology of pop music, the philosophy of modesty, and religious pilgrimages, all from the perspective of a young Catholic in the modern world and frequently through the lens of natural law. But from the title of the blog, “Bad Catholic,” one can deduce some of Barnes’ self-understanding as a curious, young Catholic (though not “traditional” or “conservative,” per his piece, “Catholic, Nuff Said”), negotiating the Church and modern world by mingling the Catechism with Top 40s song lyrics, the Church Fathers with contemporary feminist theory. Continue reading
I was awestruck when I met Andrew Greeley in my second year as an assistant professor at the University of Arizona. My mom was devoted to Father Greeley’s columns in the Catholic press. Through my high school years, my father (a convert) was struggling with the reforms of Vatican II. To every query or qualm my mother intoned “Father Greeley says ….” and then paraphrased the latest column. My wife’s father read the columns aloud to her mother as she cooked after church. The tableau repeated in millions of Catholic homes.
Andy became my sociological godfather. He taught me that the quantitative sociologist’s work is not done when the statistics are correct; the work is not done until we figure out what they mean and communicate that meaning to our readers. I am sure my other mentors gave me that message, too, but Andy persisted until I got it. Our collaboration evolved as I got up to speed. Continue reading
One of the very first times I met Andy, I had to pick him up at his hotel and bring him to the Survey Research Center at UC Berkeley. He and my advisor Mike Hout were planning to spend the day crunching numbers. It was during that trip that they probably wrote the first draft of two, if not more, of their many co-authored pieces in the American Journal of Sociology or the American Sociological Review.
When he came out to my car and got inside, he looked at the clock and gave a little start, “I didn’t realize it was that late!” (Andy hated to be late.) I said, in true Berkeley-graduate-student-style, “Oh, don’t worry about it. It is ten minutes fast. I set it that way so that I’m on time.” Andy’s response, “Well, that’s stupid!”
My clocks have been on time ever since. Continue reading
The first time I ever saw Andy Greeley’s name was on the cover of a book resting on my Irish-descended grandmother’s coffee table. It was not a work of sociology.
Two decades later, during graduate school at the University of Arizona, I encountered some of Andy’s sociological work, which Carol has nicely highlighted. I encountered Andy, too. (When I first mentioned meeting Andy to my mom, she smiled–Andy had been her graduation speaker at Mercy College some decades before. His influence spanned generations).
Despite his advanced years, and his “snowbird” identity of arriving in Arizona each year when the weather worked in his favor, Andy had a warm reputation inside the department. I occasionally heard rumors of weddings and baptisms he had done for students in past decades. This is no small thing, given that Andy’s sociology of religion had nearly as much verve aimed at the secularization theory of social scientists as that aimed at the tin-eared attitudes of Catholic bishops. I once saw Andy give a paper on Chicago’s ethnic tribes to our department’s weekly “brown bag,” a no-holds-barred forum for sociological work in progress. Andy was still on his game, and still held the audience’s interest, albeit using transparencies instead of the now-ubiquitous Powerpoint. Continue reading
I received a letter out of the blue from Andrew Greeley sometime in the late 1980s commenting on a book I had just published. As a postscript, he asked me if I wanted to see a yet unpublished work of his which, of course, I did want to see. Not to put too fine a point on it, within a few months I had on the floor of my study a pile of Xeroxed manuscripts of works “to be published” with approximate dates of their publication. When I joined the faculty of the University of Notre Dame in 1988 he invited me over to Chicago for lunch. It was then that I discovered that however pugnacious Andy was in print, he was reserved in person almost to the point of reticence. From that time until his terrible accident in 2008 I was the recipient of newsletters, books at Christmas, occasional exchanges of emails. And a few chance meetings when I would spy him on campus for football games. Continue reading
I am pleased to announce that our next few blog posts will be short reflections on Fr. Greeley from people who knew him. To avoid any unnecessary confusion: While most of these posts will show up under my byline (since I will be posting reflections sent or e-mailed to me), these are not my reflections and the actual writer’s name will be found in the post title. I hope you enjoy the reflections.