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The Smoke of Satan: Conservative and Traditionalist Dissent in Contemporary American Catholicism Paperback – July 21, 1999
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The Smoke of Satan: Conservative and Traditionalist Dissent in Contemporary American Catholicism is a crisp, witty, thorough, and fresh study of the inner workings of the Catholic right. Sociologist Michael W. Cuneo concentrates on three groups: anti-abortion activists, Catholic separatists (who believe that the American Church revoked its authority regarding true Catholicism by distorting the intentions of Vatican II), and mystics and apocalypticists. As Cuneo explains, these groups believe that "the Catholic church in the United States has strip-malled its liturgical life, compromised its doctrine, and squandered its moral capital. Once defiant and blessedly haughty, the church is now a cheap floozy, cozying up to the modern world, smiling, winking, desperate for flattery and approval." In analyzing each of these groups and their distinctive methods of protest against the purported corruption of the American Church, Cunea provides fascinating anecdotes based on wide reading and firsthand encounters. All of them, it seems, pose variations of one essential question--and it is surely one of the most vexing questions at this point in American Christian history: what, exactly, constitutes an ultimate authority worth trusting? --Michael Joseph Gross
From Library Journal
Based on his personal interviews and visitations to communities in the United States and Canada, Cuneo's (sociology, Fordham Univ.) book documents and evaluates the reasons behind post-Vatican II, disaffected Catholic groups, from moderate to extreme. He divides these factions into conservatives (those mostly remaining within the church), separatists (those disaffiliated from Rome), and marianists (those primarily focused on Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and on doomsday predictions). Intellectuals, eccentrics, and schismatics also pass through these pages. Cuneo covers lesser-known groups, such as the Canadian Apostles of Divine Love, and the more recognized traditionalists such as Gomar DePauw, Marcel Lefebvre, and marianist Virginia Leukens. More journalistic in style but topically similar to Patrick Allitt's Catholic Intellectuals and Conservative Politics in America (LJ 12/93), this study will be useful especially for academic religion, history, and sociology collections.?Anna M. Donnelly, St. John's Univ. Lib., Jamaica, N.Y.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
It would be easy to come away from this book with an overblown estimation of its exotic yet statistically marginal characters and tendencies. The actuality is that "on the surface at least, the vast majority of lay Catholics in the United States seem to have adapted remarkably well to the extraordinary changes that have taken place within their church" since the Second Vatican Council. (p. 16) The subculture in which Pope Pius XII forevermore will steer the barque of Peter and Dwight Eisenhower will occupy the White House is vibrant--but holds little attraction in the Church's bulwark mainstream parishes. On the other hand, "if separatists could ever curb their tendency toward self-cannibalization and perhaps negotiate a measure of internal consensus, they might at some point actually succeed in converting their fractured movement into a significant denomination: a kind of traditionalist Catholic equivalent to Protestant fundamentalism." (p. 181) Since this disparate dissent is like the proverbial man who jumped on his horse and rode off in all directions, the author seems to consider this latter possibility to be quite unlikely.
This book is a page-turner even for those with slight interest in Catholicism in particular or religion in general. Even from a psychosocial viewpoint, this safari to a land of denominational outliers holds one's interest from beginning to end.