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A Rock Critic Talks Faith View Comments
By James Breig

LIKE A DNA helix, music and faith have intertwined throughout the life of Rob Sheffield, a Catholic and rock critic for Rolling Stone magazine. He’s also the author of Love Is a Mix Tape and Talking to Girls About Duran Duran—books filled with his personal beliefs and his love for contemporary music.

“I’ve learned that my faith is always changing in ways I don’t have the power to predict,” he tells St. Anthony Messenger. “Questions that seem clear enough to me one year will seem incredibly troubling the next year. Music is like that, too. You decide one week you have a clear idea of what you like and what music you identify with. Then, the next week, some music sneaks through the walls you’ve built and reaches your heart.”

Sheffield, 45, was born into Catholicism. He grew up near Boston in the 1970s, which he describes as “an exciting time, when the adults around us were deeply inspired by leaders like Cardinal [Richard] Cushing of Boston and the late Pope John XXIII, and by the Second Vatican Council. There was this idea that Catholic spirituality was not something you let the experts take care of for you, and it wasn’t something you watched happen while the clergy did all the work.

“Instead,” he continues, “growing up Catholic meant taking your place as an adult in a collaborative, interpretive community. That was scary as well as exciting because it was a challenge. It meant we learned to ask ourselves tough adult questions about our faith and what it meant, and [we didn’t settle] for easy, dismissive answers.

“It meant shouldering the responsibility for making the Church happen,” says Sheffield. “It seemed obvious to all of us that we were growing up in the best possible time in history to be Catholic. There was an excitement in the adults around us, our parents, our CCD teachers, the nuns and the priests. There was a sense of the Church as a growing, vibrant, dynamic thing.”


James Breig is a veteran writer for Catholic newspapers, magazines and books. He now authors a syndicated media column for dozens of Catholic papers.

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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog I discovered that my sins had created a spiritual racket that drowned out the gentle whispers of God to my soul; God had never actually abandoned me, but I needed repentance and sacramental grace to reawaken all that was good and beautiful in me.

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