In Search of an American Catholicism
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In Search of an American Catholicism : A History of Religion and Culture in Tension

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For more than two hundred years American Catholics have struggled to reconcile their national and religious values. In this incisive and accessible account, distinguished Catholic historian Jay P. Dolan explores the way American Catholicism has taken its distinctive shape and follows how Catholics have met the challenges they have faced as New World followers of an Old World faith. Dolan argues that the ideals of democracy, and American culture in general, have deeply shaped Catholicism in the United States as far back as 1789, when the nation's first bishop was elected by the clergy (and the pope accepted their choice.) Dolan looks at the tension between democratic values and Catholic doctrine from the conservative reaction after the fall of Napoleon to the impact of the Second Vatican Council. Furthermore, he explores grassroots devotional life, the struggle against nativism, the impact and collision of different immigrant groups, and the disputed issue of gender. Today Dolan writes, the tensions remain, as we see signs of a resurgent traditionalism in the church in response to the liberalizing trend launched by John XXIII, and also a resistance to the conservatism of John Paul II. In this lucid account, the unfinished story of Catholicism in America emerges clearly and compellingly, illuminating the inner life of the church and of the nation. For more than two hundred years American Catholics have struggled to reconcile their national and religious values. In this incisive and accessible account, distinguished Catholic historian Jay P. Dolan explores the way American Catholicism has taken its distinctive shape and follows how Catholics have met the challenges they have faced as New World followers of an Old World faith. Dolan argues that the ideals of democracy, and American culture in general, have deeply shaped Catholicism in the United States as far back as 1789, when the nation's first bishop was elected by the clergy and approved by the pope. He also examines the tension between democratic values and Catholic doctrine from the conservative reaction after the fall of Napoleon to the impact of the Second Vatican Council. Dolan explores grassroots devotional life, the struggle against nativism, the impact and collision of different immigrant groups, and the disputed issue of gender. In this lucid account, the unfinished story of Catholicism in America emerges clearly and compellingly, illuminating the inner life of the church and of the nation.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 136.7 x 204.7 x 15mm | 258.55g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195168852
  • 9780195168853

Review quote

Few American historians have acquired the broadness of mind and intellectual curiosity to do what Jay Dolan has done in this book. In Search of an American Catholicism represents a tour de force of mature scholarship, careful but critical thought, and engaging prose. The work represents a bold departure from earlier social histories of American Catholicism to engage relevant theological and intellectual issues without ever losing sight of their social context. At a time when the Roman Catholic Church is re-examining its role and mission in American society, this book could not come at a more auspicious time. This book deserves the widest possible attention from readers within and without the Catholic tradition. All will learn more about Catholicism. All will learn more about America. * Harry S. Stout , author of The New England Soul: Preaching and Religious Culture in Colonial New England * In this limpid, sometimes aching book, the historian Jay Dolan explores the American Catholic dilemma so frequently imposed from outside as well as inside: can Catholics be Americans without compromise? Dolan offers an extraordinarily mature, subtle, and sophisticated account that integrates American and Catholic history with an eye for irony as well as understanding-a simply wonderful book from the master historian of Catholicism in America. * Jon Butler, author of Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People * The product of a lifetime's learning and passion, Jay Dolan's new work offers a compelling interpretation of the varieties of American Catholicism and of the tense and conflicted but ultimately creative encounter of the church of migrants and immigrants with the challenges and opportunities of American democracy. * Robert Orsi, author of The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880-1950 * Can the church achieve an American version of Catholicism without getting swallowed up in the all-enveloping American culture? The answer to that question is still very much in doubt, as Dolan acknowledges, and his extended essay is a compact guide to the twisty accommodations that have evolved over the last 200 years. * Los Angeles Times * An eminent Catholic historian examines the ways American culture and Catholicism have affected one another. In his most engaging section, covering the past 40 years, he reveals his great admiration for John XXIII and his disdain for the conservative, authoritarian policies of the current pontiff. He does a good job, as well, of showing how Hispanic and black Catholics have affected the church as a whole. * Kirkus Reviews * A brilliant study about the relationship between Catholicism and American democratic ideals, this timely book considers the historical foundations and subsequent evolutions of Catholicism's adaptation to and influence on American self-understanding. This well-documented, and lucidly written book is essential reading for all Americans interested in religion and politics. Wholeheartedly recommended. * Library Journal * This absorbing inquiry answers the often troubling question of what it means to be both a Catholic and an American. * Booklist * The capstone to Dolan's celebrated career. Put simply, he argues that America has been quite good for Catholicism and that Catholicism must continue to adapt to American culture if it is to endure, let alone flourish. * Christian Century *show more

About Jay P. Dolan

Jay P. Dolan is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Notre Dame. He is author of several books on the history of American Catholicism, including his best known work, The American Catholic Experience: A History from Colonial Times to the Present. He has served as President of both the American Catholic Historical Association and the American Society of Church History.show more

Rating details

14 ratings
3.5 out of 5 stars
5 14% (2)
4 50% (7)
3 14% (2)
2 14% (2)
1 7% (1)
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