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The Current

On the Shelf

By Josiah LEE Ausi. tz

If magazines were rated by the intensity of their intellectual commitment, The Current (of Catholicism and Contemporary Culture) would rank among the highest. In few journals will one find more self-criticism, personal involvement, and sense of intellectual crisis. In the present issue almost every contributor peeps out from behind his sturdy prose to betray concern as well as expertise.

What the writers are concerned about is the role of Catholicism in a revolutionary age. Sister M. Louisette talks of the way in which Sisters are leaving the convent to take the intellectual pulse of the times in studies at Harvard and other secular institutions. Richard Barringer demands that the Church come to grips with the expectations of the new nations. John Tracy Ellis asks the Church to make greater use of the talents of the American laity. And so it goes. Behind each article lurks the image of conservative opposition. Every piece ends with hope for a brighter future. In the best traditions of liberal Catholicism, the writers urge the Church to seize the twentieth century and shape the future.

The formula often has instructive results. In "Prayers and Pluralism," Lewis Burleigh gives a good discussion of the Supreme Court decisions of on prayer in public schools, and John Brandl performs a similar service in "World Views in the Social Sciences."

But we can take only so much. With nearly every article written in the hortatory mood, one longs for a descriptive piece, a reminiscence or a burst of wit (such as have appeared in previous issues). For though the October Current covers a rich variety of subjects, its tone remains lamentably uniform. Those interested in hearing the views of articulate Catholic intellectuals will still find the journal valuable; but the present issue should be read in small doses.

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