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American Church: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America Paperback – March 31, 2013
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"Russell Shaw marshals a good deal of evidence on behalf of his provocative thesis about the problems of American Catholicism. Even those who do not fully subscribe to that thesis will find the book informative and suggestive." ---James Hitchcock, Professor of History, St. Louis University, author of History of The Catholic Church
"Russell Shaw's American Church is a piercing and essential meditation on the past, present, and future of Catholicism in these United States. It should be required reading for all -- secular, devout, and otherwise -- and is beautifully narrated to boot." ---Mary Eberstadt, author, Adam and Eve After the Pill
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Top Customer Reviews
Every Catholic who can read English should read this book, the cost of which is a small price to pay to be informed on its subject-matter which is, essentially, the secularisation of Catholics and loss of Catholic culture and identity in the Western world. While this book is specifically about the Catholic Church in the USA, there is much in it which will resonate with Catholics in other parts of the world, including in Europe and Australia.
As Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput of Philadelphia points out in his foreword to the book, "The world we [Christians] live in is not a friend of the gospel ... It has contempt for Jesus Christ, contempt for the Cross, and contempt for the people who carry their own cross and follow him." Indeed. Christian now live in a world which is not only inimical to God, to His Son and to the Christian lifestyle, but openly hostile and aggressive towards those who are attempting to live in accordance with God's plan for humanity. They are constantly bombarded with propaganda vilifying them and promoting sinful conduct and evil of every kind in the name of freedom and equality. In addition, the laws of the land are increasingly compelling Christian institutions and individuals, under pain of prosecution and punishment, to act in a manner directly contrary to the divine law.Read more ›
There are a couple themes in this book regarding the history and the future of the Church in America. One is the contrast between the views of Orestes Augustus Brownson and his friend Isaac Thomas Hecker. Orestes Brownson a convert to the Church was rather pessimistic on future of the Catholic Church in America. Isaac Heckler was the founder of the Paulist Fathers and is now a Servant of God. Heckler had a very optimistic view of the Church in America and thought the two fit together perfectly. The other theme regards the 1950's best selling book "The Cardinal" by Henry Morton Robinson which had a view much akin to Isaac Heckler's. The book partly based on the career of Cardinal Spellman was also made into a movie directed by Otto Preminger.
These themes help in part to explore the history of the Catholic Church in America. Considering that while there were some prominent Catholics at the founding of this country such as Daniel Carroll, for the most part Catholics were a very small minority. It was only after later immigration that Catholics became a more sizable minority. An anti-Catholic bias was there from the beginning for a variety of reasons, but partly concerning the doubt that Catholics could be good Americans with their "allegiance" to Rome. The Know-Nothing Party was on the extreme side of this bias, but it was prevalent in a largely Protestant populace.Read more ›
(This is an interesting note for the present and future production of books--the printed and electronic editions can be different: it's much easier to address changes and even corrections in the electronic version. Which one is the official version? Does the Library of Congress decide?)
I presume Ignatius and Shaw changed the title because of concern no one knows who "Gibbons" was--James Cardinal Gibbons, the ninth Archbishop of Baltimore (from 1877 to 1921). Shaw's book comes at a time when others are writing about the renewal of Catholic culture in the U.S., including George Weigel and Ryan N. S. Topping. I have not read those books, so I cannot compare them, but Shaw's book traces the path of assimilation of Catholics in American culture--and as that culture became more and more secularized, then Catholics on that path became more and more secularized.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Shaw does not disappoint here writing a book that all Catholics in the United States should examine if not thoroughly read. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Dcn. Brandon Bredice- Justice
This book is full of valuable insight. The diagnosis and call to action Shaw closes with in the final chapter made me want to shout "Amen! Read morePublished 8 months ago by Shea Stevens
This is a history of the church in America not based on a particular timeline but on the concept of being an American and being a Catholic, and what that means compared to the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Kathryn Bevis
Shaw tells the truth. Very well written and factual. You can trust his facts. A must read for any American CatholicPublished 18 months ago by Max Bville
This was at least the fourth book that I have read by this author. Earlier, I have read (i.e., Fulfillment In Christ (with Germain Grisez), To Hunt, To Shoot, To Entertain:... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Joseph P. Tevington