Bright Promise, Failed Community
Catholics and the American Public Order
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Publisher: Lexington Books
Number of Pages: 160
Width: 15.2 cm
Height: 22.9 cm
In Bright Promise, Failed Community, respected Catholic sociologist Joseph Varacalli describes how and why Catholic America has essentially failed to shape the American Republic in any significant way. American society has never experienced a "Catholic moment" -the closest it came was during the immediate post-World War II era-nor is it now close to approximating one. Varacalli identifies as the cause of the current situation the "failed community" of Catholic America: an ineffective and dissent-ridden set of organizational arrangements that has not succeeded in adequately communicating the social doctrine of the Church to Catholic Americans or to the key idea-generating sectors of American life. The "bright promise" of Catholic America lies in the long and still developing tradition of social Catholicism. With a revitalized, orthodox, sophisticated community to serve as the carrier of Catholic social doctrine, Varacalli sees trends of thought that would propose viable alternatives to philosophies and ideologies that currently dominate the American public sphere-ones that would thus have a formidable impact on American society.
[A] sobering book... balanced by a look at the ways in which restorationism is already leading us toward a genuine 'catholic moment' in America. National Catholic Register One will look in vain for a more trenchant analysis of why Catholic America, often ridden with dissent, has until now failed, in Professor Varacalli's words, to 'shape the American Republic in any significant way.' ... Bright Promise, Failed Community: Catholics and the American Public Order is sociology at its best! -- Donald J. D'Elia, SUNY, New Paltz I am genuinely impressed with the important matters [Varacalli] consider[s], critically important, I would say, for the Church and the American polity. -- Walter Nicgorski No one has defined as clearly as Varacalli, precisely why the American Church has been relatively ineffective in shaping American public life. The "bright promise" of Catholic America lies in the long and still developing tradition of social Catholicism. This book is a remarkable contribution. -- The Catholic Educator's Resource Center In this lucidly written, physically attractive, intellectually lively, and politically provocative volume, author Joseph A. Varacalli offers his explanation as to why the 'bright promise' of Catholic social teaching hasn't been widely accepted and received favorably in the American Republic...Whether or not one agrees with Varacalli's analysis, he has put forth a serious intellectual, moral, and religious challenge to those who defend the present situation in the Catholic Church of the United States.' -- Anthony Haynor, Seton Hall University I am very, very impressed with [this] work. I don't believe anybody has yet defined quite as clearly as Varacalli has, with supporting evidence, precisely why the apparently prosperous American Church and the huge number of Catholics here should prove to be so relatively irrelevant to American public life. Varacalli has succeeded in explaining and documenting why this is so. -- Kenneth D. Whitehead, Former Assistant Secretary of Education during the Reagan Administration Dr. Varacalli has provided his readers seeking to better understand the present 'Civil War' in American Culture and in American Catholicism, with an intellectual treat...This is a book which deserves to be seriously studied by every informed Catholic and, above all, by every Bishop concerned at the surrender to the 'spirit of the world' by so many professed Catholics. -- James Likoudis St. Catherine's Review The book is valuable both for its description of [the institutional weaknesses of Catholicism in America] and the abundant documentation supplied by the author... [It] should be welcomed by all students of the Catholic situation in America First Things To date the most accomplished study on the subject has undoubtedly been The Catholic Moment by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus... Yet since that outstanding book appeared in 1987, no other work has matched its intellectual depth and power. Until now. The publication of Bright Promise, Failed Community by Dr. Joseph Varacalli-considered by many to be the nation's leading Catholic social scientist-updates, complements, expands upon, and ultimately surpasses Fr. Neuhaus' seminal book. -- William Doino Jr. The Wanderer Much has been said and written in the post-conciliar years about the contemporary 'crisis of faith,' of course; but Prof. Varacalli brings to his analysis of the situation the sharp tools and insights of the competent modern social scientist. The result is one of the best current treatments of the state of public Catholicism in America that has appeared. L'osservatore Romano Despite its scholarly content and tone, Bright Promise, Failed Community isn't just for specialists. It is for everyone who wants to understand what has gone wrong in this country so far, and how Catholicism can and must help things get better. Lay Witness A perceptive, provocative book whose chief defect is a happy one-it is much too short. Touchstone: A Journal Of Mere Christianity Professor Varacalli is worth knowing and reading. -- Monsignor George A. Kelly, Founder, Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Fellowship Of Catholic Scholars Quarterly Varacalli, an unusually prolific and insightful observer of American Catholicism, is to be applauded for a bold, straightforward and uncompromising vision of what the Church in the United States could yet be. The Latin Mass Buy and read this book... It may well serve as a catalyst for debate within Catholic circles for years to come. Crisis Most orthodox Catholics would probably agree with the better part of Varacalli's analysis. Where some would differ is over the extent of Catholic institutional collapse (or corruption) and the degree to which America's prolems are due to a defective founding; and therefore whether changes - in the institutional Church or in American culture - need to be as sweeping as Varacalli proposes. No doubt these two areas will continue to be the center of debate among orthodox Catholics in America. Varacalli has made a notable contribution to his side of that debate. The Catholic Faith Recommended highly! Catholicvote.Org - A Project Of The Catholic Alliance It is right to refer to Varacalli as being among the most reputable in his field. Bright Promise, failed Community deserves a wide readership. Homiletic and Pastoral Review Bright Promise, Failed Community is one of the clearest expositions yet written of what happened to the [Catholic] church in the U.S. during the last four decades - and why. Our Sunday Visitor A fine and provocative piece of work. -- Patrick J. Buchanan, The American Cause Anyone searching for a source of the devastating scandals currently plaguing the Catholic Church should look no further than Joseph Varacalli's brilliant book. The Catholic Social Science Review ...will certainly aid [the] Pontifical Council's efforts to better understand the obstacles and difficulties that may hinder the promotion of Catholic Social Doctrine. The task for the Church in America is daunting, but [Varacalli's] book helps the reader examine the terms of the on-going debate on religion and public life, which is a necessary step in the right direction. -- Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, Secretary, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace This is a book that deserves the widest readership, a little masterpiece of American religious sociology ranking with Herberg's classic Protestant, Catholic, Jew. Lexington Books should be commended for publishing it, and all Catholic scholars and advocates should read it. Faith and Reason Bright Promise is a painfully sharp diamond of a book-gripping, startling, to the point, and extraordinarily well written and argued. Journal Of Law and Religion