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Catholicism and American Freedom: A History by [McGreevy, John T.]
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3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Length: 432 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The interplay between the American Catholic Church and the United States has long been a source of tension for both church and state. McGreevy, an associate professor of history at the University of Notre Dame, examines the relationship between the two, beginning with the Eliot School Rebellion in Boston in 1859 and extending into the present day, when questions about abortion and human life dominate the church's engagement with American political life. The author begins by exploring efforts by some Catholics to counter the Protestant brand of Christianity being taught in the nation's public schools in the antebellum period, pointing out the sharp division that existed between Protestants and Catholics in the 19th century. He also discusses how Catholics dealt with slavery, then presents the church's stands on behalf of human life, most notably concerning abortion, a debate preceded and affected by an earlier battle over birth control. McGreevy's final chapter combines a discussion of the proposed "consistent life ethic" linking abortion, poverty, the arms race and the death penalty with a sparse treatment of the church's recent sexual abuse crisis. The author sees the scandal as further evidence of a fragile institution trying to distinguish "permanent truths from contingent applications." McGreevy's work is largely academic, and is presented in such a way that it will be of more interest to scholarly readers than ordinary Catholics. Still, it should be a valuable resource for students of modern church history.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

As the largest American religious denomination, Catholicism has directly and indirectly influenced intellectual and cultural life in this country. Though significant connections between Catholic ideals and American politics have been largely ignored by historians scrupulously separating church and state issues, there has nevertheless been considerable "interplay between Catholic and American ideas of freedom." McGreevy traces the evolution of this relationship from the mid-nineteenth century--when the tidal wave of Catholic European immigrants drastically altered the religious balance in the U.S.--to the present day. Controversial topics impacted by American Catholic thought and action include education, slavery, nationalism, social welfare policy, democracy, abortion, and sexual abuse. This thought-provoking combination of religious and social history provides a unique slant on the sizable role Catholicism has played upon the American stage. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 5032 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (September 17, 2004)
  • Publication Date: June 3, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #849,527 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It took me about ten days to read this fascinating book. The author has made an excellent contribution to U. S. history by carefully keeping to his title topic (Catholicism and American Freedom: A History), halting his account when he has made his point, and jumping ahead ten or fifteen years. With a hundred pages of notes and a helpful index, McGreevy has fashioned a parade of people exposing their thoughts and prejudices. I had already known many of the names and events, but I found the quotations startling. Such brazen words written by such renowned men! As for wisdom and insight, Jacques Maritain stood out. I must explain the withheld fifth star: Other authors enliven their work by colorizing, presenting one view with convincing animation. This book is nuanced, more like life, therefore a bit more difficult to read.
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Format: Hardcover
Catholicism and American Freedom: A History is a readable, scholarly work, with extensive references. Although it is a history of Catholicism, one also gets an education on the great influence of all Christian religions on US historical development, which is woefully lacking in modern, politically correct textbooks. (One can learn here how Justice Felix Frankfurter invented the "wall of separation of church and state," which did not exit before 1948.)

There are a couple of threads to the book. One is the struggle of Catholics to gain acceptance as loyal Americans first from Protestant antagonism, which has ebbed and flowed over two centuries, to the attacks by secular liberalism, today. The book opens in 1859 with Protestants questioning Catholic motives because of the refusal of a Catholic child in a public school to recite the Protestant enumeration of the Ten Commandments. One hundred years later, in that same state (Massachusetts), Catholics were berated for inflicting their views of contraception on non-Catholics. In the mid-1800s, the Church saw slavery as an acceptable institution (though not in its form in the American South); by the late 1960s, the Church was a leader for racial equality. Also, since the early 1900s, the Church began leading the campaign for social justice in the US. Today, the Catholic Church finds itself aligned with conservative Protestants against secular liberals' insistence on legal abortion. The final chapter of the book is about the post-Vatican II Church's handling of internal problems, such as pederasty by priests, and its effect on the Church's mission in America. This section is weak, but the scenario is still being played out.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent. This writer documents every assertion, often with quotations. As a professional historian, he tells the story without inserting his own opinions until the very last chapter. Even then, he inserts very few of his own opinions. The book documents the often-uneasy relationship between Protestant viewpoints derived from a belief that each individual is responsible for himself and his own actions, and Catholic viewpoints that are based on Thomistic understanding of the community/common good, and individuals' relatinships to each other through the common good. This is not Protestants versus Catholics. This is two different mindsets, both of which produce responsible citizens.
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By JFC on March 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unless you're a diehard Cathlic, this book can be a really really boring read for religion classes. If you have the option, don't try to write a paper on it. It's long and pretty dense.
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