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Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans Talk About Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning Hardcover – September 9, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sheer star power should draw a broad range of readers to this volume of 37 interviews, in which Catholics from diverse fields reflect on their church. Kennedy, daughter of the late Robert Kennedy, invited luminaries from politics, entertainment, media and the church itself to talk about their Catholic origins, current beliefs and what they would do if they could be pope for a year. Writer Anna Quindlen would ordain women and lift the ban on artificial birth control. Comedian Bill Maher, who confesses to hating religion, would end the church, while Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington, D.C., would resign right away and get a good guy in there. Other interviewees include Cokie Roberts, Susan Sarandon, Allouisa May Thames, Thomas Monaghan and Douglas Brinkley. In the preface, Kennedy adds her own views, explaining why she remains a Catholic despite differences with the church on issues like abortion and homosexuality. The collection makes for interesting reading, though at times the interviews, which consist wholly of the subjects' responses, seem disjointed and rambling without the context of questions. (Sept.) ""
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved."

From Booklist

What does it mean to be Catholic in today’s society? Is there a necessary disconnect between traditional Catholicism and contemporary reality? What role, if any, does faith play in spirituality? Catholics who have asked themselves similar questions and curious non-Catholics will be interested in the comments of 37 prominent Americans collected by the author, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy. She explores what it means to be Catholic via a series of interviews with public figures with roots in the Catholic Church. Included among those tapped by Kennedy to interpret their faith are Anna Quindlen, Bill O’Reilly, Cokie Roberts, Nancy Pelosi, Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd, Martin Sheen, Bill Maher, and Frank McCourt. The diversity of responses, from both staunch believers and lapsed Catholics, reflects the ambivalence that many American Catholics attempt to come to terms with as they grapple with both institutional and spiritual issues. --Margaret Flanagan
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (September 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307346846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307346841
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,334,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ghmus7 on October 15, 2014
Format: Paperback
Why be Catholic? This book does not really answer the question of why all these celebrities (deeply learned in theology and the teachings of the church) still wish to be Catholic when they disagree with everything that the church teaches. Why? Why would you wish to join a club when you despise all the reasons for that club's existence? Would you join the Sierra club if you disagreed with the principals of conservation? Would you remain a Boy Scout if you disliked the principals of scouting?
This book simply celebrates unbelief. This book celebrates disobedience, in thought and action. It is quite sickening to read Ms. Kennedy's description of her liberal privileged upbringing and assume that everyone else automatically shares those views. Of course they do, because she is privileged and knows better than everyone, including especially, people like ordinary priests and bishops, just trying to get through the day dodging artillery like this book. And from this incredible high horse, she wishes to lecture the poor church and those servants of hers to tell them her version of the church.

In the end, the only reason for remaining Catholic, is that it teaches the truth in essentials. There will always be difficult moral questions where the rubber meets the road and struggle and challenge... But the Churches' teaching on pro-life is an essential and foundational teaching, that simply can't be ignored or pushed away. Social teaching or activism that denies this is empty.

The book just does not celebrate Catholicism. When someone joins the church at the Easter Vigil: the person is required to say: "I believe all the Catholic Church believes and teaches".
I don't think that any of the "prominent celebrities" in this book would be able to say that.
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91 of 132 people found the following review helpful By JacMac on September 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I was riveted by this book. I am a practicing Catholic struggling to make peace with some of the Church's teaching. Kennedy presents her own journey, as well as those of other Catholics - practicing, non-practicing & somewhere in between.

The book's contributors vary widely in their experiences, as we all do. This book is for all Catholics - and those interested in Catholicism. It is a great way to begin to understand how & why Catholics believe what they do & act as they do.

Don't dismiss this book as anti-Catholic or pro-Catholic. Nothing could be further from the truth. The author presents many views, many journeys; and, the book challenges each of us to look at the Church and determine if it is truly following the teachings of Christ.

If you're a devout, practicing Catholic, don't be afraid to try reading this book. If you have left the Church, don't be afraid to try reading this book. It may open your mind to a better understanding of others (and isn't that one of the basic teachings of Christ?).

I read the book. It is especially insulting to read a review from someone who hasn't even read the book. This is a terrific and timely book.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By JL on January 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
In "Being Catholic Now", Kerry Kennedy presents a collection of essays written by various celebrities in an attempt to find support for her campaign to change the Catholic Church to better suit her own political views.

In the preface, Kerry Kennedy describes in great detail the very Catholic life of her celebrated family when she was growing up. She then launches into a series of complaints about the Church -- some general policy disagreements, some anecdotes about particular incidents with priests and bishops.

Kennedy mentions several issues in which she feels the Church does not reflect the love of Christ. Too often, though, she fails to explain the Church's views adequately. For example, she mentions that a friend heard a sermon from a bishop which amounted to a "frontal assault on gay men's and women's rights." She does not explain what was said, but merely offers up this bit of hearsay as evidence.

Other issues are more fully described, but still show an unwillingness to see any side of the issue besides her own. For example, Kennedy relates how she met with the pope to ask him to support the use of contraceptives to fight AIDS in Africa. Of course Benedict XVI wants to fight the spread of this disease as well, but since Catholic dogma does not allow contraception, he traveled to Africa and preached that abstaining from sexual relations outside of marriage will stop the spread of AIDS. He's right, of course, but this is not the solution that everyone wants to hear.

Kennedy needs to understand that the Church will not support a solution unless it passes certain moral tests. The Church is not a democracy; its job is to apply scripture to contemporary issues.
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72 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on October 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who loves the Catholic Church will be distressed by this book.

Kerry Kennedy, who collected these essays, writes she has a friend who endured "a sermon that amounted to a frontal assault on gay men's and women's rights"(p xxix). While she says she continues to love the Church, she wonders if it hasn't gone over to "the dark side" (p xxxi).

Then her book goes on to feature people who loathe the church, like Bill Maher, whose film "Religulous" is a long scream of hatred at God. Or those whose information about the church is embarrassingly ignorant, like Anna Quindlen, who believes the old, wholly discredited story of a woman pope.

One striking essay is by Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives. She snips, "I've always been pro-choice. To me, it's like saying, `Should we surrender our brains?'" (p 79). How many bishops have rebuked her advocacy of abortion recently? Is it 14, 20? I've lost count.

Over 40 million babies have been killed in the United States since abortion was legalized. That's a continent of human beings lost forever. Not to mention the lives of the mothers and fathers who so often experience emotional turmoil for decades after. Why is Pelosi so uncaring, so sure her way is right?

Archbishop Raymond Burke, the US Vatican prelate, has said the Democratic party is at risk of becoming the "party of death" for its strident advocacy for abortion and euthanasia. Why won't Pelosi listen to the Church? Or read about the beliefs of the Church, or pray, or consult her bishop? Catholic belief about abortion and birth control has been constant, ever since the first years of Christianity.
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