Practicing Catholic

Practicing Catholic

by James Carroll


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780618670185
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 04/01/2009
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

James Carroll was raised in Washington, D.C., and ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1969. He served as a chaplain at Boston University from 1969 to 1974, then left the priesthood to become a writer. A distinguished scholar-
in-residence at Suffolk University, he is a columnist for the Boston Globe and a
regular contributor to the Daily Beast.

His critically admired books include Practicing Catholic, the National Book Award–winning An American Requiem, House of War, which won the first PEN/Galbraith Award, and the New York Times bestseller Constantine’s Sword, now an acclaimed documentary.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Practicing Catholic 1

1 Born Catholic 11

1 Past, Present, Future 11

2 De Profundis 16

3 Jimmy Marching 23

4 Growing Up with Jesus 25

5 In God Who Is Not There 28

2 The God of My Youth 34

1 The Perfect Society 34

2 Martyr of Conscience 38

3 No Salvation Outside the Church 43

4 Infallibility 46

5 Americanism 52

6 Isaac Hecker and the Paulists 58

3 Coming of Age 65

1 Richard Cushing 65

2 Leonard Feeney, S.J. 69

3 Experience over Doctrine 77

4 John Courtney Murray, S.J. 84

5 Catholic Camelot 88

4 The Council 96

1 Pope John XXIII 96

2 Entering the Novitiate 100

3 Reform and Reunion 107

4 The Cuban Missile Crisis 113

5 Nostra Aetate: Jesus, a Jew 116

6 Religious Liberty 120

7 Thomas Merton and Peace 122

8 The Death of John F. Kennedy 125

5 A New Language 127

1 End of Latin 127

2 The Bible Told Them So 131

3 Copernicus, Galileo, and Darwin 133

4 Learning to Read 139

5 The Mary Code 144

6 The Gospel of Women 154

7 Faith of the Fathers 158

6 Sex and Power 162

1 Unnatural Law 162

2 Personally Opposed 167

3 Celibacy as Control 170

4 Women's Liberation 172

5 1968: Howl 175

6 Catholic Radical 181

7 Martin and Bobby 185

8 Humanae Vitae 188

7 Thou Art a Priest 191

1 A Monk in Love 191

2 William Sloane Coffin, Jr. 196

3 Public Sinner 202

4 The End of the Beginning 203

5 Catholic Chaplain 205

6 Conscientious Objectors 211

7 Cardinal Cushing's Last Hurrah 217

8 The Scandal 220

1 How I Loved It 220

2 This Father Carroll 223

3 Paul Shanley and His Protectors 227

4 The Basilica of Denial 233

5 The Church on Fire 236

6 Three Reasons 238

7 Hans Küng vs. John Paul II 240

8 Ratzinger and Galileo 246

9 Religion and Terror 250

1 Crusade and Jihad 250

2 Catholic Fundamentalism 253

3 Member of the Laity 257

4 A German Pope 259

5 The Negotiation of Values 266

6 The West Against the Rest 268

7 Monotheism, Violence of 276

8 Peace Among the Religions 280

9 "Catastrophe" Means "Turning Point" 283

10 A Writer's Faith 287

1 Bad Catholic 287

2 Allen Tate 290

3 Death Is the Opening 300

4 Language Is God 302

5 The Meaning of Meaning 308

6 A Second Naïveté 312

7 The Catholic Imagination 316

8 Far Surpassing Human Hopes 320

A Twentieth-Century American Catholic Chronology 323

Acknowledgments 328

Notes 330

Index 361

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Practicing Catholic 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
davelbst More than 1 year ago
James Carroll's approach to history is highly personal. In his recent historical surveys, "Constantine's Sword" and "House of War," he occasionally interspersed personal anecdotes to tie the broad sweep of historical events to his own life story and developing historical awareness. In this book, Carroll goes a step further and suggests his own story as a typical encapsulating narrative for the history of the American Catholic Church of our time. His life as a post-war Irish Catholic youth, Paulist seminarian and reform-minded, antiwar-activist priest anchors his account of the era leading up to Vatican II's aggiornamento and of the early stages of post-Council regression. But oddly, his personal narrative largely ends with his withdrawal from the priesthood in 1974. In the transition from his personal history, Carroll interweaves the background of the priestly sex-abuse scandal in Boston with the discounting of papal teaching on birth control before turning to pointed polemical diatribe against Cardinal Ratzinger / Pope Benedict. In a chapter titled "Religion and Terror" Carroll rises up as the dissident layman turned prophetic spokesman for the abandoned Conciliar reform agenda. Carroll left the priesthood to become a writer. But of his work over the next twenty-some years he has little to say. His return to religious topics was "an accidental development tied to religion's emergence as a public question in the past dozen or so years." More than likely it was undertaking a column at the Boston Globe that opened the pathway for "making public the private conclusions [he] had reached as a believer." Carroll's springboard into the final chapter on his faith as a writer is an episode once again drawn from the other side of his personal history, from shortly before his ordination. Here Carroll relates in greater detail than he did in "American Requiem" the story of his relationship with the poet Allen Tate, who had mentored Carroll as a beginning poet, and named his struggle to choose between two vocations, writer and priest. Flowing from this pivotal point in his vocational story, but standing on the other side of that choice now decades later as an accomplished writer, Carroll intertwines themes of word and meaning and language and even titles one section "Language is God." The creative medium of language, Carroll argues, somehow carries us beyond ourselves into the presence of the Word, a Christian turn of phrase, but also descriptive of the experience of Muslims in praying the Koran, or Jews in studying the Torah -- the point is the encounter with the divine beyond the mediating terms. While like Carroll we may have learned certain truths through a particular sequence of events and issues, the dramatic bias of one's role in the sequence can too easily become an endless replay of past conflicts without benefit of reaching any higher viewpoint. The inner story of a personal religious crisis of any existential authenticity surely runs much deeper than just returning to the polemical fray. Others who have gone through a similar crisis of faith and vocation have ended up in quite different positions. That there are a myriad other different paths through the same field of disillusionment contradicts Carroll's claim to universality. Once begun on a personal path, what one expected here was a more personal exploration of a particular journey toward the universal.
upstairsgirl on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The thesis of Carroll's half-memoir, half-history of the Catholic Church of the last seventy years has as its thesis that the laity need to relcaim their faith from the hierarchy - specifically, that the laity need to reclaim and insist upon maintaining the legacy of Vatican II against the assualts of a reactionary papacy. Carroll describes his own spiritual journey in the context of pre- and post-Vatican II notions of what it means to be Catholic and to be "saved," and does a good job of explaining how his own experience fits in to both the larger Catholic and larger American cultural experience during that time. He beleives that leaving the church in protest is not the answer, and for him it may not be. He does, however, lay bare a number of twentieth and twenty-first century failings of the ecclesiastical hierarchy that force one to consider where one stands in relation to it. The book is a dense, intense read, and presumes a fair amount of historical and religious knowlede on the part of the reader. But it's well-footnoted and indexed, and contains a lot of interesting suggestions for further reading as well. Carroll is an engaging writer, and while his own experience definitely forms the core of the story he is telling, he remains fairly humble about that experience, and open about his own failings and changes of heart. I highly recommend it.
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dj4740 More than 1 year ago
Thoughtful slice of history of the Catholic Church since Vatican II. Easy to read - I enjoyed it and look forward to passing it on to friends.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was stimulating to me. Carroll is truly a scholar, and this volume is exceedingly well documented. I have one fault. The introduction is really all one needs if you are looking for what he means by the title. I was drawn to it, as my faith has been very empty for almost a year, and his journey, all be it more tortuous than mine, showed me how much ones search can parallel another. It took a long time to read, as the notes are extensive and worth the time. I don't think I have fulfilled my quest, but there is hope in practicing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of James Carroll's earlier books. I expected this book to contain a more personal account of why he continues to be a practicing Catholic. It was a much more academic treatment of the evolution of practices in the Catholic Church. It was a good book, but not an easy read. I would recommend it to others, but enter with different expectations than I had.