e-mail us

Inside NCR

Vote for best book ... NCR comings and goings

There never have been, many people say, so many books published and so few books read; never so many books and so few good books. NCR readers, surveys and experience show, are among the most loyal and discriminating book readers anywhere. So once again we ask you to do the beleaguered book a favor.

It has become an NCR tradition to invite our readers to share with the world their favorite book of the year. Our Winter Books issue will be Nov. 6. Please write and tell us about the book that most amused, edified or otherwise affected you in 1998. One line will do if it’s the right line, but maximum 300 words. Tell us the title of the book and the author; also, if you know, the publisher and price. There will be no payment, but the book will be grateful to you, not to mention the author.

Deadline is Oct. 1. Send your submission to “Best Book” at the usual NCR address or by e-mail to opinion@natcath.org

Announcing some personnel changes at NCR:

Teresa Malcolm, who for three years has been layout assistant and staff writer, has been appointed assistant news editor as well as staff writer. Her work has long included editing the three pages of briefs and addenda, together with the popular bi-weekly feature Keeping Faith.

Matthew R. Kantz is our new layout assistant and staff writer. A native of Ohio, he has worked as graphic designer and writer for various publications.

Congratulations. Welcome. The NCR ship sails on.

Meanwhile, we announce with regret the departure of Leslie Wirpsa who for many years has reported for NCR from Latin America and most recently has headed our West Coast Bureau in Los Angeles. Wirpsa has decided to work on a doctorate in international relations at the University of Southern California.

While we have no immediate plans for a Los Angeles replacement, we will look for ways to continue and expand our coverage of this vital part of our church and nation. And Wirpsa will continue to be associated with NCR as a freelancer.

People have been phoning us, puzzled about an article, published in Prospect Magazine and reported in some newspapers, suggesting a nasty theological twist to the eternal fate of England’s Princess Diana. Written by Philip Nobile, the article claims that if Catholic -- or, for that matter, Anglican -- teachings are to be believed, Diana is probably now in hell.

Assuming that Diana and boyfriend Dodi had been committing sins of the flesh, that is, mortal sins, Nobile doubts that either would have had time or disposition to make the necessary act of contrition, which would probably have landed them in Purgatory. “Consequently,” he writes, “hell looms as the most plausible spot for the princess’ soul. Christian dogma, immutable and infallible, requires sinners in her presumed spiritual condition -- stained by mortal sin -- to be condemned.”

The British and others are angry about this article. But why the calls to NCR?

Well, a “theologian” who makes such bold claims better have credentials. Nobile offers two: that he has a degree from the Catholic University of Louvain; and that he once was a columnist for NCR.

And the latter claim is literally true. A search of our records shows he wrote a column under the general heading of “One Man’s Kultur” in 1969. There seem to have been only three of these. Another column around the same time was called “Press Beat” but that well, too, dried up after three issues. There were other miscellaneous pieces over the years, including one headlined “New York’s Curious Yellow Journalism,” also in 1969.

We regret that this man chose to use NCR as ballast for his eccentric views. He neglected to mention another of his credentials: He was once an editor at Penthouse magazine.

Nobile’s views are not those of NCR.

-- Michael Farrell

National Catholic Reporter, September 11, 1998