Take and Read: The Seven Storey Mountain

Take and Read: It's pretty clear now that The Seven Storey Mountain served as my "spiritual director" during my first years of seminary formation.​

Book Review

Reined in by the Vatican, set free by the Gospel

Book review: John McCoy's biography of Archbishop Raymond "Dutch" Hunthausen paints the painful story of a bishop's conscience and Rome's determination to hold fast to institutional control.

Book Review

This history has urgent warnings for today

By Cullen Murphy
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27

One Saturday morning a year or so ago, I was in the local supermarket pushing my shopping cart toward the produce section. I passed an elderly man, a man I didn’t know but had seen on a number of occasions in the library of John Carroll University, where I teach. As we passed each other he uttered a single word: “Heretic.” I stopped in my tracks and looked back as he proceeded to the store’s exit. I brushed it aside as a remark of a reactionary Catholic disturbed by my writing on church renewal and reform.

Will Elizabeth Johnson's accusers please step forward?



Fordham University’s Distinguished Professor of Theology, St. Joseph Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, stands in the dock, so to speak. Accused by an undisclosed number of individual U.S. bishops of failing to reflect clearly the church’s teaching on God in her 2007 book, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine seconded the original accusation. There were, indeed, the doctrine committee found, serious problems with Johnson’s book on God (NCR, March 31).

I read Quest for the Living God soon after it was published. As with many of her previous works, I remembered the author’s gift for taking rather sleepy church doctrines and bringing them to life. Deeply rooted in our faith’s tradition, Johnson engaged these truths, plumbed their depths, wrestled with their mystery, and presented them afresh to her readers. Hers was not only a world-class intelligence, but a world-class imagination steeped in the church’s history, theology and spirituality. I so wanted to hear this theologian preach.