Catholicism in culture

Suburban Pride

I want to register a belated thank you to Eugene McCarraher (“Morbid Symptoms,” November 23, 2012) for allowing me to see myself as I really am: a suburban medievalist. I was born, raised and, until three months ago, have always lived in suburbs. There are a lot of us: since the mid-1970s more Americans have lived in suburbs than in cities. Worse, I am convinced that the culture of the 1950s was vastly more creative than that of the ’60s or ’70s. Moreover, I was much impressed in 1953 when I read James J. Walsh’s Thirteenth: Greatest of Centuries—to which McCarraher alludes—and undoubtedly it clouded my already distorted vision. I’ve spent a good part of my career in the company of academics and have found medievalists an unusually happy and congenial bunch. Since moving to a condo in downtown Chicago, however, I want to alert McCarraher to another phenomenon: Catholic Urban Feudalism, a lively tradition stemming at least from the days of “Boss” Daley and much praised by Andrew Greeley when he was a columnist, and which continues in the inbred patron politics of Rahm Emanuel and Chicago’s Democratic machine. Makes me nostalgic for the footloose life I knew growing up in the suburbs’ Wordsworthian sublime.

Kenneth L. Woodward


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