PARISH BOUNDARIES

THE CATHOLIC ENCOUNTER WITH RACE IN THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY URBAN NORTH

An account of how the Catholic Church in urban areas, with its largely ethnic parishes, responded to American racism and the ferment of the civil rights movement. Throughout most of this century, McGreevy (History/Harvard) asserts, Catholic parishes, with their distinctive emphasis on geographical boundaries, constituted a unique combination of educational, religious, and social communities, representing ``a specifically Catholic style of merging neighborhood and region.'' Catholics arriving in America gravitated to areas in which there were Catholic churches, and the neighborhoods developed a clear, intense ethnic identity that did not easily admit outsiders. McGreevy concentrates on the period between WW I, when the Catholic system of parishes and schools aggressively expanded into every section of the cities, and the early 1970s, when the system began to show signs of strain. He is especially interested in exploring how Catholics and African-Americans interacted with one another. There was, early on, clear Vatican impatience with the existence of separate Catholic institutions for blacks. A number of individuals in the Church were uneasy with the unintended results of the parish system: Jesuit John LaFarge worked for greater integration, as did the Federation of Coloured Catholics. Public figures like Bishop Sheen and Cardinal Spellman presented a vision of Catholicism as transcending national and racial boundaries. Many Catholics endorsed integration in principle but fiercely opposed upsetting the ethnic homeostasis of their own parishes. In the 1960s Catholics' social consciousness was raised by the Second Vatican Council and the civil rights movement. But as the model of integration came to be questioned in the name of respect for diversity, liberal Catholics who had fought against the parish system were, paradoxically, faced with a crisis. For many, their religious affiliation seemed an obstacle that protected a discredited status quo. A thorough, sensitive, and balanced contribution. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-226-55873-8

Page Count: 351

Publisher: Univ. of Chicago

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1996

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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