Jeff is right about the Wanderer's brave stance in the abuse crisis and the "Lavender Mafia," but their reporting on immigration is so one-sided and anti-bishop, it's hard for me to respect.My Sunday Visitor and National Catholic Register are often fluffy... staying "orthodox," but only because they never print anything the least bit risky.America and Commonweal are smart, but prone to sell out the Magisterium on social issues. Jesuits use these publications to defend all kinds of heterodox ideas that in another time would have promoted accusations of heresy.Although I like much of their stuff, both Crisis and First Things have published some of the most dangerous positions I have ever read... just incredibly wrong-headed American civil religion nonsense. It is Catholicism as the "Republican party at prayer." Crisis did this at the most dangerous time possible---when Pope John Paul II was trying to stop the war in Iraq.My favorite Catholic magazines are New Oxford Review, Communio, and Gilbert. Hard to go wrong with those. But even they fall short sometimes.The fact is Catholicism is big field... Many saints, many sinners, many unique charisms that we ought to learn to respect.
Note that the new Crisis Magazine is much better than the old Crisis Magazine, though our Facebook friend has apparently not discovered this yet.
But this all makes me realize something.
Our culture began to turn away from the Church deliberately with the Reformation, and is now officially and utterly anti-christian and nihilist - so much so that almost all of the Catholic bishops and the vast bulk of the laity have been co-opted by the culture-at-large, and the best we can muster is a lame fortnight for freedom belied by our own secret compromise on the very issues we yap about. The reason we see such a strange and strained attempt by various media outlets to publish with a Catholic heart and mind is that it's never been harder to be Catholic - for a Catholic culture (a culture that would automatically and organically produce such things) has ceased to exist.
Those who attempt to write or create from a Catholic perspective have to carve out a forced and unnatural position, with no help from either the clergy or their fellow Catholics, as a rule. Thus everything is a bit off-balanced.
Factor in the market and things get worse. You can probably make money targeting liberalist pro-abortion Catholics or targeting right-wing libertarian-leaning Catholics, but you can't make money playing to the middle because the middle is muddled. The middle are simply sane secularists who are no more serious about Christ and His Church than the average man-on-the-street, whose sons are nihilists and whose daughters are whores. He believes mildly in a benign god but denies that there is such a thing as sin, and he is no more interested in partaking in a Catholic culture than he is in doing anything that seems to him unreal and contrived. He has his sports and his big-screen TV and unlimited access to porn and other addictive diversions - and nothing in the world around him tells him that a life lived for Jesus Christ would be anything but fake and self-serving.
The only possible way to combat this is to do our best as individuals and in small groups (usually not parishes) to approach sanctity and to beg the Holy Spirit to make us holy and to conform us to life in Christ - though corporate life in Christ is not being modeled for us anywhere but in the past, generally speaking. If we radically give ourselves to Jesus, He will radically transform us, and from that personal transformation a new culture (at first a counter-culture) will spring. Absent such a commitment, we will at best be Catholic in a "safe" way or in an unbalanced and bizarre way - but perhaps that is all we can do under the circumstances.