- Series: Religion and American Culture
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Columbia University Press (December 5, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0231131879
- ISBN-13: 978-0231131872
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,894,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Church Confronts Modernity: Catholic Intellectuals and the Progressive Era (Religion and American Culture)
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Precociously wise... magnificent. (Paul Gottfried The American Conservative)
A lucid and accessible book (Eugene McCarraher A Christian Review)
This book will be a valuable resource...Highly recommended. (P. J. Hayes Choice)
The Church Confronts Modernity is provocative, well-written, and deserves to be read. (Margaret Mary Reher Catholic Historical Review)
It is written with great clarity and fluency, making the complex philosophical and theological concepts approachable... This is a very important book which will be indispensable reading for scholars interested in the history of religion. (Frank Lennon Journal of American Studies)
It moves briskly and gracefully through the thorny issues confronting the Church during the first two decades of the 20th century... An effective and detailed examination of Catholic intellectual life during a little studied period. (Thomas G. Guarino Theological Studies)
This book is well worth reading. It is well written, well researched, and the thesis put forth is well argued. (Patrick W. Carey Journal of American History)
Provocative... Woods thoughtful study casts new light on the Catholic response to the culture of progressivism. (Michael J. Lacey American Catholic Studies)
Well written... Worthwhile contributions to the literature. (Deirdre Moloney American Historical Review)
At the beginning of the twentieth century, American intellectuals grew increasingly sympathetic to Pragmatism and empirical methods in the social sciences, which challenged the dogma and "absolute truth" of the church. Defenders of the faith opposed this new public philosophy, instead insisting on the uniqueness of the Catholic Church and a sound philosophy of humanity. Neither capitulating to the new creed nor retreating into self-righteous isolation, they formed an economic and political philosophy based on natural law, appropriated what good they could find in progressivism, and encouraged Americans to embrace Catholicism. Thomas E. Woods's provocative study shows how American Catholics attempted to retain their identity in an age of pluralism and laid the groundwork for a half-century of intellectual vitality.
Top customer reviews
On p. one, Woods notes that for him, modernity begins with the turn away from objectivity, toward subjectivity, in the thought of Rene Descartes and all his intellectual descendants to the present. But Woods concentrates on the period around the turn of the century, from the 19th to the 20th, after the wholesale condemnations of Pius IX, to the more narrow 'Modernist' crisis of c. 1900.
The book then concentrates on how this duel played out in the United States, but i thought the book could have used a more extended foundation of analysis of european modern thought and its influence on the US, a la The Closing of the American mind by Allan Bloom. Woods effectively shows the deleterious effects of the writings of William James and John Dewey on the Church and American culture. On p. 90, Woods describes how Dewey was surprisingly candid in condemning a Catholic school system as reactionary and inimical to democracy. Woods writes: "To Dewey's insistence that 'the child is for democracy,' Catholics answered 'the child is for God.'
Woods debunks groups such as the Ethical Culture Society, whose mantra was "Deed, not Creed," that there is always a hidden, if denied 'creed' behind the actions of any group.
This book will convince most readers that there is a fundamental chasm between orthodox Christianity and 'orthodox' modern progressivism, despite the fact that both borrow from each other at the margins. The first and most important stage of fighting a culture war is to identify the enemy despite his/her disguises.