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The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America [Hardcover]

By David Carlin (Author)
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Item description for The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America by David Carlin...

The Roots of the Crisis That's Rocked the Pulpits and Emptied the Pews Many Catholics blame Vatican II for the decline of the Church in America these past 30 years: traditionalists say it caused too many changes, liberals say too few. In this groundbreaking book, sociologist David Carlin shows that although Vatican II was the flashpoint for change in the Church, the roots of today's crisis go deeper than anything that happened at the Council. Basing his conclusions on sociological analysis rather than on theology or Church teachings, Carlin shows that in the 1960's the Church in America was weakened by the triumph of tolerance as an American virtue (which led Catholics to downplay their uniquely Catholic beliefs for the sake of unity) and then was battered by a culture that, seemingly overnight, had become boldly secularist and even libertine. Called by Vatican II to engage the culture in order to evangelize it, while pressed by the culture to downplay its Catholicity in the name of tolerance, the Church in America lost its way. The result? A widespread loss of Catholic identity; weakening of fidelity to Church teachings; Catholics abandoning their faith; and a diminishment of the Church's role as a moral voice in American society. Carlin's analysis has uncovered a problem that's older and even more dangerous for the future of Catholicism than the deeds that have lately thrust the Church onto the front pages. Indeed, says Carlin, the scandals are merely symptoms of this deeper problem that will continue to drain the Church's vitality long after the scandals are forgotten. The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America: essential reading for all who seek to understand the decline of their beloved Church and who hope to devise effective ways to restore her.

Publishers Description
In this groundbreaking study, David Carlin shows that forty years ago the Church in America unwittingly sailed into a perfect storm spawned by the unprecedented confluence of three powerful social forces.

Changes introduced by Vatican II unsettled the self-identity of American Catholics just as their improved social status began to draw them from their Catholic enclaves into full communion with American culture. Then, as they struggled to adjust to unfamiliar roles in the Church and in society, American culture shifted out from under them, abandoning its traditional Protestant character to become openly secularist, libertine, and boldly anti-authoritarian.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Sophia Institute Press
Pages   432
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.28" Width: 6.36" Height: 1.33"
Weight:   1.8 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2004
Publisher   Sophia Institute Press
ISBN  1928832792  
ISBN13  9781928832799  

Availability  0 units.

More About David Carlin

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > Faith
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > Church History

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Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Roman Catholic

Reviews - What do customers think about The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America?

Identifying elements of "Catholic Culture"  Dec 4, 2006
That author David Carlin is a sociology professor and a former member of the Conneticut State Legislature certainly comes through in his presentation of the Catholic Church in the USA. His analysis of the history and context of the Catholic community during the 1950s through the 1990s is most interesting; perhaps his analysis and his recommended remedies make sense if Catholics in the USA want to understand themselves simply within the national context. However, the Catholic Church has never really been a self-contained, national entity, and this is where I find Senator Carlin's analysis somewhat problematic.

Now that I've presented my sense of what is a limit of the book (perhaps more in the sense of a boundary than of a limitation), I can say that the interesting element in this long series of essays is the attempt to identify Catholic culture. The author does not so much dwell on the "content" of Catholic culture, but he does speak to the issues of conditions and communication of values, ideals and beliefs in a Catholic way. The author also speaks to the empowerment of Catholic laity, not so much in terms of ministry (an internal reality) but in terms of "Church in the World".

Thus, while Carlin seems to criticize Vatican II, he does further the discussion articulated by Vatican II in its constitutions on "The Church" (Lumen Gentium), on "The Church in the Contemporary World" (Gaudium et Spes) and on "The Apostolate of the Laity" (Apostolicam Actuositatem). In this sense, David Carlin's "Decline and Fall" is a good resource for those who are committed to the ongoing renewal of the Catholic Church in the USA and elsewhere.
Outstanding Synthesis  Apr 10, 2004
An outstanding synthesis of how three major factors coalesced about 40 years ago to undermine and severely damage the US Catholic Church's culture and teaching authority. I remember the Church as a very young child before 1962 and can appreciate the catastrophic post-Vatican II effects David Carlin so eloquently describes. His assessment of how we got to where we are today, as well as his prescription for rescuing Christ's holy Church in the US is right on target. I applaud Mr. Carlin's brilliant analysis. With lots of prayers, another St. Charles Borromeo for the 21st century, and a miracle, we may avoid falling into further irrelevancy and decline. Given our current secularist culture, as sick as it is and as pervasive even in the Church, I pray for bishops and priests to have the moral courage to preach the truth and do all they can to reverse the ominous trends Mr. Carlin describes. His book is a highly commendable first step in helping the leaders of the Church to speak the truth with fervor and choose orthodoxy over "making it up as you go along." I wish every ordained clergyman and member of the Church would read this excellent book and take its message to heart and act on its providential message.
A thoughtful and thought-provoking wake-up call  Feb 3, 2004
Written by sociologist and lifelong Catholic David Carlin (Professor of Philosophy and Sociology, Community College, Rhode Island), The Decline & Fall Of The Catholic Church In America is an insightfully critical study and critique of the erosion of the Catholic Church's influence from the election of John F. Kennedy to today. Taking the staunch view that the root of the Catholic Church's problems lie not in the scandals that reach the daily headlines, but rather a shift in American culture to embrace secularist, libertine, and anti-authoritarian values, that caused American Catholics to adapt by downplaying their faith, The Decline & Fall Of The Catholic Church In America is a thoughtful and thought-provoking wake-up call that holds out the possibility, albeit not with overmuch optimism, that the American Catholic Church can do what it needs most to turn itself around.
A step in the right direction,  Jan 7, 2004
David Carlin's book is a great step by a Catholic Sociologist to examine and analyze the decline of Catholicism in America since the end of Vatican II in 1965. It is a must read book that belongs in every Catholic's library.

That said, I have to mention that Mr. Carlin does not go far enough or deep enough into the reasons behind Catholicism's decline, not only in America but worldwide. His book could be renamed "The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America and around the world." His main thesis that the Church hit an unfortunate tripple whammy of Vatican II, the end of the Catholic ghetto and the mainstreaming of Catholics into the culture, and the rise of secularism. Yet, he does not examine all of the ramifications inherent in the first major cause, Vatican II and how it effected the other two.

In his analysis of what the Church needs to do to pull out of this decline, in the next to the last chapter, was once again lacking systematic thought. There is a mental incoherence which is inherent in the mass of neo-Catholic's today. Even when trying to fight liberalism and secularism, they are so infected by these two "isms", that they forver fail to connect all of the dots, or overcome their inherent mental inertia.

He goes into the need for the Church to "invent" new rituals in order to fight secularism, failing to notice that Catholcism is traditionaly anti-inventionist! In fact, it was the cult of inventionism and experimentation, ushered in by Vatican II, that has caused the problem in the first place.

There is no need to invent (sic) anything. One of the main secularizing and liberalizing influences in the Church today is the new mass. It, more then anything else has dismantled Catholicism, and the anti-secularist supernatural mindset in the Church. Once neo-protestantism and "naturalism", was embraced in the litergy, it was only natural that the decline and secularization of the Church would Follow. I am willing to give this author the benefit of the doubt, for there are many great books that detail the problems inherent in the new mass and the post Vatican II stress disorder. What was needed was a great transition book that could touch upon the subject, and would lead the Catholic inquirer deeper into the subject by further reading. Mr. Carlin accomplishes this goal admirably.

All in all it is a great book and a beginning for Catholic's searching for the reasons behind the many ills in their Church today. From here I would recommend the book, "The Great Facade" to flesh out ones understanding of how we got to where we are today and what is truly needed to get the Catholic Church out of the guagmire of (post)modernism.

A book that is very eye opening  Dec 6, 2003
This book does an execellent job of looking at the decline of the Catholic Church since the 1960's from a sociological perspective. Carlin addresses in an easy to read manner the step by step cultural upheavals that helped errode the faith of most Catholics in the last forty years. While I would have liked him to have a brighter perspective on the Catholic Church's future in America, I cannot but help feeling he is right on the mark with his assessments. The general assessement of the books is that the Catholic Faith will gradually become weaker and weaker a force in shaping America's future and will become as impotent a force as the Amish culture in shaping country's future if we continue to water down our faith to be more acceptable in the eyes of our secular American society. As long as we are content to water down the tough issues (Abortion, Euthanasia, Artificial Contraception, divorce, fornication, homosexuality) we will cease to be authentically the Catholic Church Christ founded and will simply become just another liberal church bowing at the altar of secular opinion polls.
I like the author's comments on Christ's promise that the Church that it would last to the end of the world. He asserts that while Christ's assertation will be true, Christ did not say America's Catholic Church would last to the end. There were Catholic diocese in Islamic countries centuries that currently are dead and gone. There are many places where the Church was that no longer survive. If Catholics in America do not get serious about being authentically Catholic, we may eventually lose the Church here. It will be of little consolation here in America if the Catholic faith thrives in Latin America, Africa, South America to the end of time, if our American Church dies here. We need to do what we can to perseve the faith where we live.

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