Cover image for Catholics and American culture : Fulton Sheen, Dorothy Day, and the Notre Dame football team
Catholics and American culture : Fulton Sheen, Dorothy Day, and the Notre Dame football team
Massa, Mark Stephen.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Crossroad Pub. Co., [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 278 pages ; 24 cm
Leonard Feeney, the Boston heresy case, and the postwar culture -- Thomas Merton and the postwar "religious revival" -- Joe McCarthy, Clifford Geertz. and the "conspiracy so immense" -- Fulton J. Sheen and the paradoxes of Catholic "arrival" -- Dorothy Day, anti-structure, and the Catholic Worker movement -- The first Sunday of Advent 1964 -- The IHM nuns and the routinization of charisma -- Ethnicity, American Catholic higher education, and the Notre Dame football team.
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BX1406.2 .M38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Focusing on critical figures and movements in American Catholicism, the author shows that, in spite of Catholicism's status as distrusted outsider in the early part of the century, there was engagement with, and accommodation to, mainstream American culture well before Vatican II, with both negative

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In his reading of postwar American Catholicism, Massa evinces a healthy suspicion of master narratives, more than once citing the psalmist's assurance that "the One who sits in Heaven laughs." Accordingly, the book is a series of "soundings" --illuminating case studies that will appeal to anyone interested in their subjects: Leonard Feeney, Thomas Merton, Joseph McCarthy, Fulton Sheen, Dorothy Day, John F. Kennedy, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Notre Dame football team--a various enough list to appeal very broadly, indeed. The case studies also illuminatingly apply theories derived from a stellar series of influential social scientists: Emil Durkheim, Mary Douglas, Erik Erikson, Clifford Geertz, H. Richard Niebuhr, Victor Turner, Peter Berger, and Max Weber. Readers seeking an overview of the Americanization of Catholicism after the Second World War and readers interested in a practical introduction to social theory, particularly as it relates to the study of religion and culture, will both be pleased. --Steven Schroeder

Library Journal Review

Massa (church history, Fordham Univ.) makes a major contribution to the study of American Catholicism in the 20th century. This important book examines the transition of American Catholics from immigrant outsiders at the turn of this century through their enthusiastic and virtually uncritical acceptance of American cultural values and attitudes as insiders during the period from 1945 to 1970. Massa effectively points out the rich historical and theological irony underlying the transition as Catholics improved their socioeconomic status and entered the mainstream of American secular life, anticipating Vatican Council II's call for accommodation and acculturation by several decades. Some of the most important and newsworthy events in Catholic life are discussed, and each chapter examines a different theological nuance of a separate event. This is a wonderfully written, highly informative, thought-provoking, and readable book that should be included in every library.‘Pius Murray, Pope John XXIII National Seminary, Weston, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This carefully considered and well-written study interprets the theological meaning of important American Catholic "icons" circa 1940-65. Massa (Fordham Univ.) scrutinizes articulate, impassioned Jesuit priest Leonard Feeney's hard-line and disruptive "orthodoxy" in the decade following WW II, considers author/monk Thomas Merton's writings and witness, and reviews the published and on-air evangelical style and scope of author and radio/TV celebrity Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. He also examines grandstanding anticommunist Senator Joe McCarthy and his irresponsible and malicious screeds. Catholic Worker ideologue and peace activist Dorothy Day's vision and witness is sympathetically recounted; presidential candidate John F. Kennedy's landmark 1960 declaration on church-state relations receives careful attention; the "revolution" begun in 1964 in both the language and style of American Catholics' worship is appraised; and the limits of change desired by Catholic sisters that were acceptable to Los Angeles Archbishop Francis McIntyre are examined. Massa also recounts and evaluates Father Theodore Hesburgh's nationally influential career as the University of Notre Dame's president and his various other roles in the national spotlight. An interesting and instructive volume for both classroom use and private reading. General readers and all academic levels; public and academic libraries. J. C. Scott; St. Martin's College