Question: Apologetics

As noted in the comment boxes on Paul Lauritzen's post on The Golden Compass, prominent Catholic apologists are gearing up for an attack on Pullman's trilogy.  I'm not terribly interested in the book, or the movie, but I am interested in apologetics.  And I also realize I don't know much about it. It's not something to which academic theologians not on an ordination track get any real exposure. 

Lots of questions occur:  1) Is it still taught in seminaries; 2) Who is its audience--believers or non-believers?  3) If it's non-believers, is there any empirical research on what convinces people to become Catholic; 4) If it's believers, what's the objective?  5) Do polemics help or hurt? 

I think there could be interesting conversations among apologists and jury consultants and litigators--my main exposure to questions of rhetorical persuasiveness came in law school/

Any thoughts?   

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.

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