James Martin (Jesuit)
|Society of Jesus|
History of the Jesuits
Education and career
Martin grew up in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, United States, and attended Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business in 1982 and worked in corporate finance at General Electric for six years. Dissatisfied with the corporate world, he became more deeply involved in the Catholic Church and decided to enter the Society of Jesus (more commonly known as the Jesuits) in 1988, and was ordained a priest in 1999. In addition to his work at America magazine, Martin has written or edited more than 10 books, many of which are largely about his own experiences. He is a frequent commentator for CNN, NPR, Fox News Channel, Time magazine, and other news outlets, and has written several op-ed pieces and blogged for The New York Times.
Martin is a member of the LAByrinth Theater Company. His involvement with the LAByrinth Theater Company's 2005 stage production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, written by Stephen Adly Guirgis, directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and featuring Sam Rockwell, John Ortiz, Eric Bogosian, and Callie Thorne, is the subject of Martin's book, A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage with Jesus, Judas, and Life's Big Questions (LoyolaPress., 2007). Publishers Weekly, which gave the book a coveted starred review, named A Jesuit Off-Broadway one of the Best Books of 2007.
The Colbert Report chaplain
On September 13, 2007, Father Martin appeared on Comedy Central's Colbert Report to discuss Mother Teresa's fifty-year long sense of abandonment by God which had much coverage in the media at the time. During the interview, Stephen Colbert jokingly asked Martin if Mother Teresa's "crisis of faith" had earned her, in his words, "a table for one ... by the Lake of Fire." Since then, Martin has appeared five more times on The Colbert Report, once to discuss Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the U.S. in April, 2008, and again on February 23, 2009 to discuss how poverty (or, at least, reducing the importance one places on material goods) can bring one closer to God. In his introduction of Martin on the February 23rd show, Stephen Colbert promoted him from "friend of the show" to "The Colbert Report chaplain."
On March 18, 2010, Father Martin was invited to the program in the wake of Glenn Beck's suggesting that Catholics run away from priests who preach "social justice." Martin noted that "social justice addresses the things that keep people poor" and "asks you why are these people poor." He added that "Christ asked us to work with the poor. ... In the Gospel of Matthew he says that the way that we're going to be judged at the end of our lives is not what Church we prayed in or how we prayed but really ... how we treated the poor." On August 10, 2011, Martin appeared on The Colbert Report to discuss God's "approval rating" and to promote his book The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life. On November 9, 2011, he appeared once again to promote his book concerning humor and religion: Between Heaven and Mirth. On February 11, 2013 he went on the show to discuss the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. On September 24, 2013, he was on the show, talking about an interview where Pope Francis said that love, compassion and mercy are more important than the rules (within a subtext of Pope Francis washing the feet of criminals, wanting a more prominent role for women, saying atheists can be redeemed, not judging gays and lesbians, and that we cannot serve money and God at the same time), and introducing Metallica. On January 7, 2014, he appeared to discuss income inequality and the pope's emphasis on economic justice and the importance of caring for the poor.
Critique of anti-Catholicism in the media
Martin has written about anti-Catholicism in the entertainment industry. He argues that, despite an irresistible fascination with the Catholic Church, the entertainment industry also holds what he considers obvious contempt for the Catholic Church. He suggests that, "It is as if producers, directors, playwrights and filmmakers feel obliged to establish their intellectual bona fides by trumpeting their differences with the institution that holds them in such thrall."
In May 2012, Father Martin served as commencement speaker at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, St. Louis University in St. Louis, and Immaculata University in Immaculata, Pennsylvania. He received an honorary degree from each school as well.
In May 2014, Father Martin served as commencement speaker at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He received an honorary degree.
Martin's books include:
- This Our Exile: A Spiritual Journey with the Refugees of East Africa (Orbis Books, 1999), which tells of Martin's experiences in the early 1990s working with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Nairobi, Kenya and helping East African refugees start small businesses.
- In Good Company: The Fast Track from the Corporate World to Poverty, Chastity and Obedience (Sheed & Ward, 2000), which is the story of Martin's call to the priesthood and the early days of his Jesuit vocation. "In Good Company" has been translated into several languages, including Spanish and German.
- Searching for God at Ground Zero (Sheed & Ward, 2002), which contains Martin's reflections on God, evil, love and hope as he ministered to rescue workers at Ground Zero in the days following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
- Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints (Paulist Press, 2006) tells the story of the influence the writings of Catholic spiritual writers Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen have had on Martin's life.
- My Life with the Saints (Loyola Press., 2006), Martin's memoir, chronicling the lives of some (very human) Catholic saints and other holy men and women and how they have touched and guided his life.
- Lourdes Diary: Seven Days at the Grotto of Massabieille (LoyolaPress., 2006), a touching and humorous account of a pilgrimage to Lourdes.
- A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage with Jesus, Judas, and Life's Big Questions (LoyolaPress., 2007).
- The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life (Harper One., 2010), Father Martin explains how Jesuit founder St. Ignatius of Loyola helps people with practical spirituality.
- Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life (HarperOne 2011) Looks at the connection and relationship between humor, joy, and faith.
Martin has also edited the following books:
- How Can I Find God? The Famous and Not-So-Famous Consider the Quintessential Question (Triumph Books, 1997).
- Professions of Faith: Living and Working as a Catholic (with Jeremy Langford) (Sheed & Ward, 2002).
- Awake My Soul: Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions (LoyolaPress., 2004).
- Celebrating Good Liturgy: A Guide to the Ministries of the Mass (LoyolaPress., 2005).
His essays are included the following:
- I Like Being an American, edited by Michael Leach (Doubleday, 2003)
- Sixty Things to Do When You Turn Sixty (Sellers Publishing, Inc., 2006), in which Father Martin exhorts readers to "Be a Saint!"
- America Magazine
- Philadelphia Inquirer
- LAByrinth Theater Company website
- Publishers Weekly website
- Link to September 13, 2007 video clip on colbertnation.com
- Link to April 21, 2008 video clip on colbertnation.com
- Link to February 23, 2009 video clip on colbertnation.com
- Link to March 18, 2010 video clip on colbertnation.com
- Link to August 10, 2011 video clip on colbertnation.com
- Spadaro, S.J., Antonio. "A Big Heart Open to God". America magazine. American Jesuits. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
- Roewe, Brian. "Colbert puts Pope Francis 'on notice'". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
- Link to September 24, 2013 video clip on colbertnation.com
- Link to September 24, 2013 video clip on colbertnation.com
- "The Last Acceptable Prejudice".
- The Christophers website
- Wagner College website
- St. Joseph's University Website
- "Four Jesuits Receive Honorary Degrees".