Richard John Neuhaus in Washington DC

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UPDATE: Here's the full post.

The day started like any other, assuming one's days begin with Flip Romney waving hello on the street corner. I know a lot of mine sure seem to.

6:45 am on a cold Connecticut Avenue sidewalk: Tenacious is the first word that comes to mind for those anti-Romney folks. Damn if they ain't tryin'.

The early morning crowd for the prayer breakfast was loaded with local luminaries. I'm talkin' Chief Justice Roberts


I'm talkin' Regular Justice Alito


I'm talkin' ... whoa, those two are pretty young and pretty Catholic, are they not? Makes you think if there are people still worried about "Catholic Power" in America this might give some room for ...
WHOA!, er, I mean "pause."

Now them's a lot of Catholics, many of them distressingly young, by the way.

Well be all that as it may, most were clearly here to see the President, who gave a typically enjoyable speech for this type of venue.

Give it a listen. You'll see that President Bush is largely likeable, pretty funny, and only covers about 4 policy points, three of which I agree with wholeheartedly and the fourth of which sends steam pouring out of my ears and makes me want to march on Washington with a mob wielding pitchforks and torches.

In other words, vintage W.

It's a short speech, go ahead and listen. At the very end you can hear the crazy protest lady who started screaming during the closing applause and who got hauled out by secret service right in front of me. I had seen her milling about beforehand, and except for what looked like bruises on her face and some shiny stickers on her blouse which I could not read she looked normal enough and I never thought to give a second glance. Apparently no one else did either.

Former Senator Fred Thompson was present but did not give a speech. He just waved to the crowd and kept an eye on the tot. That's parenthood for you.


Which brings us back to the main event, Rev. Neuhaus, author of The Naked Public Square - one of the most important books about religion and society ever written - theologian, semi-sociologist, policy guy, cultural critic, and someone I have been reading since I was 22 years old (which means, well over 22 years).


Rev. Richard John Neuhaus spoke on "Why I Am Not An American Catholic" at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast this morning.

I got to sit 15 feet from the podium. Personal highlight of the year so far. It's a speech worth listening to more than once.

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What is the Catholic difference from American? If he is talking about the difference between popular culture and being a Christian I get it, but when he speaks in terms of 'American' instead of American or popular culture, it confuses me.

I wrote a piece some time ago about being a Christian American or an American Christian. Different definitions from Neuhaus.

If, as he says, 100k Americans convert to Catholicism, how many Catholics convert to Protestant churches annually?

Did you listen to all of it? I see his argument as more of a "Christ and Culture" sort of dichotomy. With the added specific difference that Catholics were in the unique situation of being pressured to seek an accommodation with American culture because of being outsiders from the get go.

Joe, I did, but his choice of words - making the distinction of Catholic, not Christian (and your last few words may answer that)threw me.

To be Christian is to be in conflict with the world. To be Christian is to be in conflict with the popular culture in America. I am used to the Biblical term 'world' and current term Christian, rather than Catholic and America.

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