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Progressive Revival

Progressive Revival

Bio

DAVID GIBSON is an award-winning religion journalist, author, filmmaker, and a convert to Catholicism. He came by all those vocations by accident, or Providence, during a longer-than-expected sojourn in Rome in the 1980s.



Gibson began his journalistic career as a walk-on sports editor and columnist at The International Courier, a small daily in Rome serving Italy's English-language community. He then found a job as a newscaster and writer across the Tiber at the English Programme at Vatican Radio, an entity he describes as a cross between NPR and Armed Forces Radio for the pope. The Jesuits who ran the radio were charitable enough to hire Gibson even though he had no radio background, could not pronounce the name "Karol Wojtyla," and wasn't Catholic. Time and experience overcame all those challenges, and Gibson went on to cover dozens of John Paul II's overseas trips, including papal visits to Africa, Europe, Latin America and the United States.



When Gibson returned to the United States in 1990 he returned to print journalism to cover the religion beat in his native New Jersey for two dailies. He worked first for The Record of Hackensack, and then for The Star-Ledger of New Jersey, winning the nation's top awards in religion writing at both places. In 1999 he won the Supple Religion Writer of the Year contest, and in 2000 he was chosen as the Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year. Gibson is a longtime board member of the Religion Newswriters Association and he is a contributor to ReligionLink, a service of the Religion Newswriters Foundation.



Since 2003, David Gibson has been an independent writer specializing in Catholicism, religion in contemporary America, and early Christian history. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Boston Magazine, Commonweal, America, The New York Observer, Beliefnet and Religion News Service. He has produced documentaries on early Christianity for CNN and other networks and has traveled on assignment to dozens of countries, with an emphasis on reporting from Europe and the Middle East. He is a frequent television commentator and has appeared on the major cable and broadcast networks. He is also a regular speaker at conferences and seminars on Catholicism, religion in America, and journalism.



Gibson's first book, The Coming Catholic Church: How the Faithful are Shaping a New American Catholicism (HarperSanFrancisco), was published in 2003 and deals with the church-wide crisis revealed by the clergy sexual abuse crisis. The book was widely hailed as a "powerful" and "first-rate" treatment of the crisis from "an academically informed journalist of the highest caliber."



His second book, The Rule of Benedict: Pope Benedict XVI and His Battle with the Modern World (HarperSanFrancisco), came out in 2006 and is the first full-scale treatment of the Ratzinger papacy--how it happened, who he is, and what it means for the Catholic Church. The Rule of Benedict has been praised as "an exceptionally interesting and illuminating book" from "a master storyeller."



Born and raised in New Jersey, David Gibson studied European history at Furman University in South Carolina and spent a year working on Capitol Hill before moving to Italy. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter and is working on a book about conversion, and on several film and television projects.

The Pope’s historical revisions

posted by David Gibson

Benedict XVI continues to take heat on two fronts since last weekend’s reinstatement of four far-right, schismatic bishops: from Catholics anywhere to the left of Franco are upset at the implicit repudiation of Vatican II, and from Jews who are […]

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Cizik & Civil Unions: Evangelical leader ousted over supportive comments

posted by David Gibson

An earthquake is rocking the Evangelical world as the longtime spokesman and Washington leader of the National Association of Evangelicals has resigned over comments he made to NPR revealing that he voted for Barack Obama (heresy) and he could support […]

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The future of Catholic politics? (Again)

posted by David Gibson

I, among others, have posed the question (here and here) of what the future of Catholic politics might look like–if it has any future–in light of the great splits between and among Catholic voters and leaders during the recent presidential […]

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Partisans and Prayer: Right and Left together, for once

posted by David Gibson

This graphic from Kevin Drum at Mother Jones (via Secular Right and dotCommonweal) is interesting: The more politically committed people are, the greater the frequency of prayer. One thing it may say is that the idea that conservatives are more […]

Barack and Benedict:Together again for the first time

posted by David Gibson

Not the Dream Team some Catholics envisoned, but the President-elect dialed the Pope personally to thank him for the congratulatory telegram. According to CNS: The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, confirmed to Catholic News Service Nov. 12 that the president-elect […]

The future of Catholic politics?

posted by David Gibson

If and when the bishops do start talking about a new political strategy, they may want to keep in mind the remarkable victory of Tom (“Common Good Catholic”) Perriello over Virgil (Good ol’ Boy) Goode in Virginia’s fifth CD. Wish I […]

UPDATE: Bishops scotch politics debate

posted by David Gibson

…At least officially. Dan Burke at Religion News Service has the scoop, that the USCCB has decided to remove from the agenda a discussion about Catholics and politics. They put the item on the agenda in September, and even this week archbishops […]

Catholic and Politics: What now?

posted by David Gibson

Judging by the headlines this campaign, you might have thought the shepherds were headed one way and the flock in another direction. That’s not quite the case, as reports of 50 or 60 or even 100 bishops promoting a “McCain-or-be-damned” […]

Calling all Catholics: Your chance to vote AGAIN!

posted by David Gibson

Yes, you CAN…tell us how you voted and why–and send a message to all those exit pollsters and post-mortem pundits by taking this very brief Beliefnet survey. Check back soon for ALL results from voters of all faiths. We want […]

Indiana goes for Obama! (Well, just South Bend, for now)

posted by David Gibson

Yes, the results of Notre Dame’s mock election are in, and the winner is…Barack Obama. According to The Observer, the campus newspaper: “2,692 undergraduate and graduate students participated in the mock election. Democrat Sen. Barack Obama and running mate Sen. […]

Motive AND Opportunity: It’s a crime NOT to vote!

posted by David Gibson

Via Sarah Pulliam at Christianity Today, some links and info to be sent around by Tuesday: ONE: Google may be taking over the world before our eyes, but at least they’re doing it with a sense of civic duty. Just […]

Desperation in the Obama camp? Opie to the rescue!

posted by David Gibson

Check out the “Mayberry Mounties” if you want to see “Happy Days” after Nov. 4…

Kmiec rebuts Chaput: Good Catholics can vote for Obama

posted by David Gibson

Douglas Kmiec has become perhaps the most prominent of the pro-life Catholic “Obamacons.” Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has become perhaps the most prominent (and civil, given recent statements from some of his confreres) advocate of the view that a Catholic cannot […]

So much for those Muslim rumors–it’s Barack O’Bama!

posted by David Gibson

Obama=Ottomans?

posted by David Gibson

Or, pro-choice voters as Muslim invaders? I don’t know if Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph wanted to go there, but he did, in his latest column in the diocesan newspaper: “Our Catholic moral principles teach […]

REALLY Great Pumpkins!

posted by David Gibson

Over at Christianity Today, Sarah Pulliam has been “getting political with pumpkins”–and it looks like a lot of fun. Definitely try this at home! She links to the AP page with some rockin’ images, but I’ve been unable to download […]

International Religious Freedom: The orphan issue of 2008

posted by David Gibson

Amid the final campaign push, the 10th anniversary of the nation’s landmark covenant on international religious freedom passed largely unnoticed on Monday. That is more than a shame. The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA) was passed by a […]

Battle of the Bishops

posted by David Gibson

It continues…Memphis Bishop Terry Steib this week called on Catholics not to be “one-issue” voters, in contrast to Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput (whose latest comments in a talk titled “Little Murders” were especially strong) and some others. Steib, in this NCR piece, […]

Who is the real heir to Teddy Roosevelt?

posted by David Gibson

John McCain says he is the new TR. And Barack Obama is a socialist who wants to “share the wealth,” as he told the now (in)famous Joe the Plumber (or whatever). But check out Teddy’s “New Nationalism” speech of 1910, […]

Good Catholics AND Good Democrats

posted by David Gibson

“The Catholic case for Barack Obama” has rarely been put so convincingly as it is in this Newsweek essay. Or, at least, a case for voting freely, according to one’s conscience and the range of issues. The argument is made […]

“Racism is a sin”…A bishop speaks out

posted by David Gibson

I have heard of few religious leaders speaking out against the ugliness emerging from the campaign trail, especially on race and violence. That makes this powerful essay in the latest issue of the Jesuit weekly America that much more welcome. It is by Bishop Blase […]

McCain on Letterman–Palin on SNL?!

posted by David Gibson

Now this would be a serious change of tone–and the smartest move yet in the heretofore hapless McCain-Palin campaign. The LATimes reports (via Sarah Pulliam at Christianity Today) on McCain’s make-up appearance on Letterman last night and McCain’s revelation that […]

Beyond Partisanship, Part II: The Al Smith Dinner

posted by David Gibson

Now this is more like it. Sure, you’re not going to see a lot of jocularity and self-deprecation–or raising $4 million for charity rather than themselves–but the Al Smith Dinner, the white-tie gala and quadrennial campaign-free zone that was held […]

“Joe the Plumber” gets his 15 minutes…

posted by David Gibson

…And as predicted, he may want to give it back. Read the rather funny Times’ “Caucus” piece about Joe the Plumber, star of last night’s debate…Or, rather, Samuel J. Wurzelbacher. And he’s actually not a plumber. But he is an angry […]

Is Barack Obama the new Al Smith?

posted by David Gibson

That might be heresy to some in the Catholic universe, but the argument has much to be said for it–though don’t expect Cardinal Edward M. Egan to be making that claim at tonight’s Al Smith Dinner. The quadrennial white-tie gala […]

Jesus Christ: Do you REALLY know him?

posted by David Gibson

Seriously. His entire track record is hearsay. The four accounts we have of his life contradict each other and they’re probably not historically reliable. Besides, he was born in Palestine, for crying out loud. You all have to ask these hard questions. The MSM […]

Donna Brazile: A good Catholic girl lets loose…

posted by David Gibson

…And says what I wish more Catholic leaders would about the ugly, angry–and yes, race-baiting–tone of the McCain/Palin campaign. Watch the video from a recent New Yorker campaign symposium…She’s not going to the back of the bus anymore!  

High Noon: The campaign as a Western movie

posted by David Gibson

But who are the Good Guys? John McCain and Sarah Palin think they are, and in this piece in the current issue of The Tablet of London, I try to explain the campaign through the lens of the Old West: […]

The “Trekkie” Campaign

posted by David Gibson

McCain as Captain Kirk and Obama as Mr. Spock? That’s the take from Jason Horowitz in this week’s New York Observer cover story. I nsightful piece. Spock was mixed race, and great at times of crisis, and he always knew […]

Sarah Palin: Religionless Christian?

posted by David Gibson

Who’s afraid of Sarah Palin? And her faith? I’m one of those who thinks all the hand-wringing about her supposedly ideological right-wing faith is way overblown. Could she be a right-wing religious ideologue if in office? Perhaps she’d follow the script […]

Catholic Bishops offer a Five-Point Bailout Plan

posted by David Gibson

A strong statement from the head of the U.S. bishops domestic justice committee offers five conditions to guide any rescue/bailout package. In the Sept. 26 statement (it didn’t get much press; I just found it now via ZENIT), Bishop William […]

Eugenics lives! Lousiana lawmaker wants to sterilize the poor

posted by David Gibson

Rep. John LaBruzzo, a Republican from Metarie (David Duke’s old haunts) wants to pay poor women $1,000 to get sterilized. Why? Because people receiving food and housing assistance “are reproducing at a faster rate than more affluent, better-educated residents.” The […]

Vatican newspaper: “New economy” is a “sham”

posted by David Gibson

Looking for a Catholic–some would say traditionally Christian–point of view on the economic meltdown? The  church has long-standing teachings and resources that I think could be useful–and an antidote to some of the idolatry and fatalism of unfettered free-marketeering. (“Hey, stuff […]

Miami Archbishop: We’re not “party bosses”

posted by David Gibson

That is the bracing message from Miami Archbishop John C. Favalora in a Sept. 12 column that is the best rendering I’ve yet seen of how the church–and the bishops–can approach the elections. The statement is titled “Why we don’t take […]

“Otherizing” Obama: Strange face welcome in a crisis?

posted by David Gibson

The Times’ columnist Nicholas Kristof had a piece on Sunday, “The Push to ‘Otherize’ Obama,” that perfectly sums up the efforts to key in on fears of Obama’s race and persistent (unfounded) doubts about his faith, and how that plays […]

Inside Obama’s God Ops

posted by David Gibson

Barack Obama is not giving up on faith-based voters. While polls seem to show voters stuck in same pattern as 2004, despite the Democrat’s persistent outreach and God talk, the campaign is redoubling its efforts and rejecting suggestions that the […]

Abortion? Gay marriage? It’s the (stupid) economy–again!

posted by David Gibson

Do the hot-button culture war issues like abortion and gay marriage matter? If you read only blogs or the news coverage (such as this NYTimes story, “Abortion Issue Again Dividing Catholics”) you might get the impression that these are the […]

Among the Unbelievers: New poll shows secularist strength

posted by David Gibson

Results from the huge American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) of 2000 stunned many and led to heated debates when it showed some 14 percent of Americans embracing some form of secularism. Preliminary numbers released today from the upcoming 2008 ARIS survey […]

Abortion & Catholics: Big wedge–small impact?

posted by David Gibson

The furious division in Catholicism over abortion and the presidential election grows wider. But to what end? A front-page story in today’s New York Times is titled, “Abortion Issue Again Dividing Catholic Votes,” and yet evidence of how that is […]

Christian-omics?

posted by David Gibson

The turmoil on Wall Street is continuing, and even though it is closer to me than even Russia is to Alaska, I understand less than little about economics. And yet the human toll of the crashes and crises is poignantly clear, and is spreading.  […]

Bishops v. Politicians: An abortion alternative

posted by David Gibson

Fallout over controversial remarks on abortion by Joseph Biden and Nancy Pelosi are continuing. And not just in the political sphere. The U.S. Bishops announced last week that in light of the conflicts and debates, they will address the topic […]

From 9/11 to 9/12…and beyond.

posted by David Gibson

Thursday is the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the crashed airliner in Shanksville, Pa., an observance that will bring renewed focus on relations between Islam and the West. But […]

“When does life begin?” Interesting question. But it doesn’t stop there…

posted by David Gibson

For all the wilful disparaging of the MSM by the GOP and its allies on the Christian right, there is a good argument to be made that the “media” (whatever that is, today) is reading straight out of the McCain […]

Something to be thankful for: McCain & Obama to appear together Thursday at Ground Zero

posted by David Gibson

From the NYT “Caucus” blog: The two campaigns issued a rare joint statement on Saturday announcing the plans of the Republican and Democratic rivals. They also will appear together at a forum later that day at Columbia University. “All of […]

Teen pregnancy: Is there a faith-based program?

posted by David Gibson

Whether Sarah Palin’s family, or Sarah Palin herself, should be an subject of commentary and scruitny has itself become a much-debated topic. But let us agree that the issues raised by her candidacy, notably the revelation of her 17-year-old daughter’s […]

Palin cut funding for pregnant moms in need

posted by David Gibson

The Washington Post has the story here, and a facsimile of the bill on which Palin herself wrote out how much to cut and where: ST. PAUL — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee who revealed Monday that […]

“Palin’s pregnant!” Easy, easy…It’s only her unwed 17-year-old daughter.

posted by David Gibson

I had thought the terrifying onslaught of Gustav and the efforts by the GOP to dodge the Katrina bullet–or turn it to McCain’s benefit–would be the story of the day, but the bombshell news that Sarah Palin’s 17-year-old daughter Bristol […]

Jon Stewart on Sarah Palin: All you need to know!

posted by David Gibson

This is why newspapers are withering and “The Daily Show” is flourishing. It’s not the fault of journalism–my chosen profession–but because in a world where John McCain picks Sarah Palin to be “a heartbeat away from the presidency,” sometimes only […]

Picking Palin: McCain’s Folly, or “crazy like a fox”?

posted by David Gibson

John McCain has certainly revived his maverick label by picking–or plucking from obscurity–freshman Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. (WaPo coverage here, and NYT coverage here.) Like every candidate, there are pluses and minuses with her. On the plus side, […]

Karma and the Christian Right: Will Gustav delay the GOP convention?

posted by David Gibson

Earlier this month Stuart Shepard, correspondent for the Focus on the Family network (you know, that OTHER religious gathering in Colorado), had a segment in which he less than half-jokingly asked prayers for torrential rains to inundate Invesco Field during last night’s […]

Beyond Roe? New study shows abortion rates lowered by public policy

posted by David Gibson

In a new study that could recast the seemingly endless debates over abortion and Roe v. Wade, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good yesterday released a new study that, according to the news release, is the first study of its kind to look at the […]

Abortion, Augustine and…Nancy Pelosi?

posted by David Gibson

And Aristotle, Aquinas, Archbishop Chaput and various Bishops, and Brokaw…All weigh in on the House Speaker’s response to Brokaw on Sunday morning’s “Meet the Press” (scroll to the end) in which he raised–yet again–the age-old question, “When does life begin?” Pelosi’s […]

Joe Biden and the Catholic Challenge

posted by David Gibson

By choosing the longtime senator insider and foreign policy expert, Joe Biden, as his running mate, Barack Obama got a well-respected congressional insider to help his prospective legislative agenda as well as sharp-spoken (too much, at times–but good for a veep) campaigner […]

Baptism by Politics: Sacraments and “The Saddleback Confession”

posted by David Gibson

In his quest to prune the overgrowth of Christianity to reveal to root of the faith, Martin Luther famously reduced the number of sacraments from seven to three, discarding Holy Orders, Last Rites (now known as the Anointing of the Sick), […]

A Primer on Platforms

posted by David Gibson

The New Republic has posted “ Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about party platforms–and then some,” also titled, aptly, “The Corncob Pipe of Politics.” It’s very good, comprehensive, on the current platforms and debates, and also the history of […]

Dear Rick: Would you ask Barack and John about…

posted by David Gibson

This weekend’s main event, outside of the Beijing Olympics, will be the Saturday sit-down between superpastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback megachurch and Barack Obama and John McCain–and event being called “the Saddleback Civil Forum.” Rick will have an hour […]

Dems, abortion, and the Wisdom of Solomon

posted by David Gibson

CBN’s David Brody has the proposed language for the Democrats platform plank on abortion, and contrary to some expectations, it appears the voices for “change”–such as Democrats for Life and Feminists for Life–have made important headway. TNR had a good piece […]

Pro-Life Democrats: Oxy-Morons?

posted by David Gibson

Not according to this piece today on The New Republic site about the Dems platform battle over abortion language, and the efforts of Democrats for Life, a small organization (need it be said?) founded in 1999 with chapters in over […]

Abortion and the Catholic voter

posted by David Gibson

The New York Times has a piece today about Obama and the Dems and their efforts to appeal to Catholic voters who may be turned off by the party’s pro-choice dogmatism. It includes comments from the much-pilloried pro-life, yet pro-Obama, […]

Tim Russert: Not a Catholic…

posted by David Gibson

Who knew?! Luckily, Hadley Arkes is here to straighten us out. In an essay at “The Catholic Thing,” Arkes bravely ventures back onto the hallowed ground surrounding Russert’s passing in June, when he first wrote (read “Tim Russert: The Story […]

More high jinks from those jokesters on the Religious Right…

posted by David Gibson

This time the hilarity is from Stuart Shepard, correspondent for the Focus on the Family network (that’s run by that guy, whatsiname, who said he’d never ever endorse McCain–ecxept he might), who muses on bothering God about prayers for some […]

Chaput, McCain and not-so-distant thunder from the Catholic “wafer wars”…

posted by David Gibson

As reports continue to cite Catholics like Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine or Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as veep short-listers for Obama, the McCain camp appears to have countered with a little-noticed event that could have large implications should Obama try […]

“Praise the Lord–and Pass the Ammunition”

posted by David Gibson

Yet another church shooting, this time at a Unitarian congregation in Knoxville, and yet another chance to ask: Where is the religious community’s voice on gun control? The numbers are staggering: 30,000 Americans die each year from gun violence, but […]

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