Practicing CatholicBook - 2009
Practicing Catholic is a personal history of the American Catholic Church during James Carroll’s lifetime. It traces the transformation of a medieval institution suspicious of American ideas of freedom and democracy into a church that has begun to embrace basic American principles of pluralism and respect for conscience. The book tells the story of heroes (Pope John xxiii, Thomas Merton, Cardinal Richard Cushing, William Sloane Coffin), and great events (Vatican ii, the Kennedys, the end of the Cold War). Considering the new meaning of belief in a secular world, it stands against the fundamentalisms of “neo-athetists” as well as of born again Christians. The book shows how and why the world needs a renewed, rational, vital Catholic Church. All of this is centered in the life-long journey of its author, who embraced the priesthood in his youth, but who finds in the writing life a renewal of religious belief. For James Carroll faith is a practice-- like all practice, it aims at getting better.
A clear-eyed and personal examination of the Catholic faith, its leaders, and its complicated history by National Book Award–winner James Carroll
James Carroll turns to the notion of practice—both as a way to learn and a means of improvement—as a lens for this thoughtful and frank look at what it means to be Catholic. He acknowledges the slow and steady transformation of the Church from its darker, medieval roots to a more pluralist and inclusive institution, charting along the way stories of powerful Catholic leaders (Pope John XXIII, Thomas Merton, John F. Kennedy) and historical milestones like Vatican II. These individuals and events represent progress for Carroll, a former priest, and as he considers the new meaning of belief in a world that is increasingly as secular as it is fundamentalist, he shows why the world needs a Church that is committed to faith and renewal.
Baker & Taylor
An evaluation of America's impact on Catholicism draws on historical, social, and religious sources to trace the church's transformation from a reactionary monolith to an institution in which the deepest aspects of faith are being called into question; in an account that discusses the author's own work as a priest. By the author of Constantine's Sword.
Blackwell North Amer
In Practicing Catholic James Carroll brilliantly shows how Roman Catholic struggles illuminate spiritual quests in all faiths. He wrests meaning from the historical, social, and religious strands of his story to chart the Church's transformation from reactionary monolith to a vital institution in which the deepest aspects of faith are being called into question. Carroll reveals his own part in the story - as a Catholic boy in the 1950s, as a seminarian and young priest in the 1960s and 1970s, as the distinguished writer he is today, and, through it all, as a committed but questioning Catholic - with an emotional impact reminiscent of his An American Requiem.
Practicing Catholic brings vividly to life the great figures who touched Carroll personally and who shaped the age: Pope John XXIII, who wrapped his arms around young Jim Carroll; John F. Kennedy, who inadvertently embodied the heresy of "Americanism"; Cardinal Richard Cushing, whose love for his Jewish brother-in-law overturned a doctrine; the charismatic William Sloane Coffin Jr.; the outspoken monk Thomas Merton; and Martin Luther King Jr., whose proclamation of justice over piety challenged church and state. The abuses of clerical culture in which antisemitism, misogyny, and pederasty thrived are dark sides of this story, and the ascendancy of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the papacy casts a separate shadow.
At a time when power structures collapse and authority figures betray us, Carroll's incisive vision for renewal - a thrilling assertion of religious belief and intellectual yearning - feels urgently necessary. Against the fundamentalism of the born-again and of the neo-atheists, Carroll's is a passionate defense of a world faith too precious to be abandoned and too powerful to be underestimated.
An evaluation of America's impact on Catholicism draws on the author's life and experiences to trace the church's transformation from a reactionary monolith to an institution in which the deepest aspects of faith are being re-examined.