Friday, March 17, 2006

The Ten

Greetings from an intermission in the St. Paddy's celebrations....

In accord with our annual tradition, I have tasted the Sacred Guinness. And, in accord with tradition, it was horrible. But, hey, traditions are traditions.

I said earlier this morning that if we Yanks tried to do a listing in imitation of The Tablet's 100 most influential lay Catholics in the UK, violence would break out.

That's no excuse to not proceed, however.

Being overworked (and woefully underpaid) as is, I don't have it in me to compile a list of the US' 100 most influential lay Catholics, but a list of ten would be a good start and would serve to whet the popular appetite. So let's pool our collective wisdom -- one which keeps growing by the day, if the numbers are any indicator -- and do it.

Ground rules: 1. For these purposes, "Catholic" is defined as anyone who has been received into the church and has not repudiated the faith -- or, conversely, has not been repudiated from it (i.e. excommunication) -- by a formal act. 2. Think broadly -- this won't be a list of the most influential American Catholics vis a vis the internals of the church. Jesus commissioned his followers to "Go out into the world," not "Build yourselves a ghetto (in Florida)"; think of those who fulfill the great commission with verve in the worlds of the arts, culture, the media, commerce, the academy, politics, etc.

Slates of nominees -- no more than five names per person, please -- are warmly encouraged and welcomed via e.mail. So please do join in; I'll take ideas for, say, a week to give us all some time and space to think over the possibilities. No rush.

It's quite appropriate to launch into this on St. Patrick's Day, as so much of the American Catholic milieu owes itself to the Irish, on whose shoulders the church in this country was largely built. The story of American Catholicism is, in so many ways, the story of the Irish in America. In that spirit, I'm looking forward to an melding of ideas which'll enlighten and challenge us all.

Loggiaheads, start your engines.