Friday, February 22, 2008

The Visitation: John L. Allen, Jr.

By choice and preference, I don't get out much, so when I do it's generally for something special. This week's "something special" was John Allen's talk at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi in Metuchen, NJ.

What a smart, delightful, and laugh-out-loud witty speaker, which is not exactly what you might expect from a Vatican correspondent for CNN. Some content from his talk can be found in his weekly column for the National Catholic Reporter, "All Things Catholic."

In person, Allen's commentary about what (and if) the Holy See thinks about the antics of U.S.-based Catholics was especially lively. I found myself muttering -- and not for the first time -- that we're a nation of narcissists.

Speaking of narcissism, I was over-the-full-moon thrilled by Allen's many references to Sociology and sociologists, especially the fact that he was willing and able to quote August Comte's observation that "demography is destiny." Just so happens that I devote an entire chapter to the value of understanding demographics in my new book, The Word Made Fresh: Communicating Church and Faith Today (Morehouse Publishing. Pub date: July 2008).

As for swooning over Sociology, here's a factoid: During the 1970s, Sociology was considered very cool and essential training for anyone considering a career in law, politics, marketing, and communications. I earned my doctorate in Sociology from New York University. Anyone care to take a wild guess what my dissertation was about? Which specialized courses I taught for a decade?

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