Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Chicago Memories: Margaret O'Brien Steinfels

I'm not sure if my own personal obsession with discovering what made the 1960s Catholic upheaval happen is shared by most readers. But I somehow can't get enough by way of memoirs and histories, all in the interest of discovering the thing that led to the postconciliar meltdown, which still remains some of a mystery to me no matter how much I read. Still, this autobiographical piece by Margaret O'Brien Steinfels is not only beautifully written; it is extremely insightful and evocative of a time and place in the life of the Catholic Church. She moved from security and surety to skepticism and confusion all around in a matter of a few short years. She describes a heady mix in her college years: revisionist history, critical Biblical scholarship, student protests against racial injustice, and a general opening up of a world. One begins to marvel at the confluence of events, the perfect storm in which the Second Vatican Council happened. If the preconciliar bubble was as she describes, it strikes me that the Catholicism that emerges during our current age of transition will be stronger than it ever was before the Council.

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