New essay published in Plough: "A Better Country"

In Plough this morning I have a review essay of Michael Brendan Dougherty's My Father Left Me Ireland: An American Son's Search for Home. It's a beautiful book that I loved reading, some of whose ideas and proposals call for theological interrogation. I also compare his work to that of Ta-Nehisi Coates, the hyphenated identity of e.g. the Irish in America to African-Americans. It was a pleasure to write; I hope it holds together. Here's a taste:

"Dougherty is Roman Catholic, a faith recovered, like so much else in his life, in adulthood. Where he foregrounds father and fatherland, though, God remains mostly in the background. The resulting imbalance leaves certain questions unanswered. For example, Dougherty is right to insist on the heart’s reasons beyond wonk positivism. But sometimes the heart’s reasons are not enough. The Rising should not be protected by a moat of romance and high speech. Christians do indeed celebrate at the altar the ultimate sacrifice, an unbloody remembering of a bloodied and disfigured man lynched, unjustly, by occupying authorities. But that man didn’t resist, didn’t take up arms. He disarmed his disciples, in fact, and they died – have died ever since – as he did: without resistance. Martyrdom is the lived meaning of the sacrifice of Christ."

Read the rest here.


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