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Catholic (Does Not Equal) The Vatican: A Vision for Progressive Catholicism Hardcover – 11 Jun 2009

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 10 reviews
47 of 58 people found the following review helpful
As, usual, Religious Convervatives just don't get it... 15 Dec. 2008
By Max Johnson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Both of the previous reviewers, Jeri and Bobby, continue the long Conservative Christian tradition of not seeming to understand that, by definition, a "progressive agenda" is NOT "orthodox" or "traditional"(and is, in fact, often a DECONSTRUCTION of the underlying presuppositions of those positions), so "critiquing" a position by saying in effect that it's "not the official teaching" is no critique at all.

Both reviewers also seem oblivious to the fact that those of us who study the sociology of religion make a clear distinction between the "official" teachings of the Church and the ACTUAL beliefs of REAL, PRACTICING, Catholics (in other words, the difference between Theoria and Praxis). Part of Ruether's "agenda" is to help CLOSE this gap, while conservatives like Jeri and Bobby seem content to let this gaping incongruity stand just as it is. They apparently see themselves as lay "Defenders of Correct Doctrine," taking over the current Pope's former job at the local level.

(That the reviewers see themselves in this light can be evidenced by Bobby's overly defensive declaration that "we" have "nothing to fear" from Ruether's book, as though she was going after lay Catholics, when clearly, as the title of the book suggests, the Magisterium is her target. Unfortunately, Bobby doesn't quite seem to realize that repeatedly calling something "ridiculous" isn't really presenting a counter-argument, as I've told my own students time and again. Nor is suggesting that someone's position is "in league with Lucifer," a tired old trick that is so out of date it's really not even funny. Perhaps a course in Contemporary Reason and Argument would help!

Jeri fares little better, deciding apparently that he/she is "in charge" of deciding who is or isn't a Catholic, and then proceeding under the GROUNDLESS ASSUMPTION that Ruether is an "outsider." Again, most sociologists of religion believe that religious affiliation is largely SELF-identifying, and thus, just because, say, the Church's governing body may consider someone to be "outside of the faith" doesn't mean they suddenly cease to have a Catholic "way of being-in-the-world." In other words, to put it simply, a "Catholic" is anyone who thinks of THEMSELVES as a Catholic, not someone who "blindly accepts a conservative interpretation of Church dogma and is considered a Catholic by Jeri." Again, if Jeri or Bobby understood the Theoria/Praxis distinction they would get this crucial point. In any event, anyone who actually KNOWS Ruether knows that she identifies VERY STRONGLY with "being" a Catholic, albeit a "progressive" one.

BTW, anyone SERIOUSLY interested in this Vatican/Lay Catholic distinction should read Father Greeley's classic survey,The Catholic Myth , or the more recent essay collection edited by yet ANOTHER "uppity" Catholic feminist, Elizabeth Johnson,The Church Women Want: Catholic Women in Dialogue.)

This profound lack of understanding (of the gulf between the Vatican and Lay Catholics) unfortunately undermines any substantial criticism either of the the reviewers may have wished to toss Ruether's way, and instead shows them both to be clearly members of the "Out of Date, Traditional Catholics Society." By referring to a passionate call for major theological, social, ethical, and political change in the Church as a "leftist fad", Jeri in particular shows that he/she CLEARLY fails to understand the gravity of the current world situation, and thus he/she can hardly claim to speak for "most" of the world's "one billion Catholics," particularly those in the Global South.

And one more thing. The "personal" attacks on Ruether's "lack of knowledge" of Catholic History and Doctrine? Weak, guys, really, really weak. Ruether's an ESTABLISHED, world-class scholar, who has been writing professionally at least since the late '60's. Jeri, Bobby, how many academic conferences have YOU two presented at? How many peer-reviewed academic books and articles have YOU written that merit giving your positions the slightest bit of validity?

As someone who has actually STUDIED with Professor Ruether and has actually read ALL of her books, I can attest to the depth and breadth of her truly encyclopedic knowledge of a vast variety of subjects, INCLUDING, yes, Catholic history and doctrine. So, guys, THAT line of attack is simply not going to fly with ANYONE who knows better.

I could go on, but I'll leave Ruether's bold, insightful clarion call of a book to stand for itself.

I know it's quite typical of religious conservatives to cling to "tradition for tradition's sake," so I really shouldn't be surprised by these viewpoints. I guess I was just hoping for some more, well "novel" opponents.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Read it and Hold Your Head Up High! 24 Jan. 2010
By Patricia Nicholson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is clear, in depth, scholarly, and fun! It is filled with examples, history and background of the topics offered.

It clearly shows the inroads made by women and the feminist approach. And it raises current questions raised by the church's responses and behaviors in this time that is so vital in the ongoing life and people/church and church/people.

I strongly suggest that anyone who reads this book start with the epilogue which expresses not just everything in the book, but everything that has accompanied women's journey to be truly part of the church.

Patricia Nicholson
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
AMEN! 18 May 2012
By fireweed - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I and most of my Catholic have been thinking along these lines for years. Rosemary Ruether nails how so many of us feel. We are all attend mass faithfully and Rome has no idea how we feel. There is a quiet revolution starting and I can't wait for it to happen. This book was actually recommeneded to me by a priest. There are many of them who also agree with Rosemary. Change will come.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Compelling and Powerful 21 Aug. 2013
By Earthian - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Radford-Ruether takes a compelling and hard-hitting look at sexism, sexual abuse, and woman's ordination within the Catholic Church. Her over riding thesis is that Catholicism as a redemptive body is not the organizational structure of the Vatican and its various hegemonic proclamations disseminated as "Church Teaching."

What remains especially compelling in this book is the clear historic analysis Radford -Ruether brings to her subject. She traces the roots and routes of Christian history showing it to be outside, and inimical to Vatican declarations since the First Vatican Council.

While traditionally, sexism within the Church was in its original mandate based of Aristotelian assertions of woman as not possessing full humanity alongside of men has been proven highly sexist and diminishing of the full humanity of woman, the church has only shifted facile arguments to continue its exclusion and domination over woman.

The author covers numerous subjects with insight, sensitivity and enlightenment demonstrating how male hegemony has distorted the "redemptive mission" of the church and taken it into the shadow side of evil.

The book also provides a meaningful analysis of various progressive movements within the Church and how the Vatican seeks to thwart their message and growth.

At the heart of this book is a message of the original praxis of Jesus of Nazareth, both his ministry, and mission toward uplifting and including those excluded from the body of redemption and meaning. Methinks, Jesus would draw a smile and a knowing nod in reading these pages while frowning at the male authority structures within patriarchal structures grown too comfortable in their power and wealth; and while holding destructive intentions toward the fullness of inclusionary mandates of full equality for woman everywhere.

Radford-Ruether's book is a tour de force on every progressive issue within the Church and the underlying battle waged for reform; with a keen analysis on how the Power That Be exists to neutralize, destroy, or marginalize that heroic voice!

Additionally, her psychological insights on how many within the Church refuse to enter adult consciousness as equal participants in redemption was especially compelling.

On a personal note, I left the Catholic Church a long time ago for all the themes this book addresses. I have never looked back. But I discovered that (unlike the author) I did not want to expend my valuable energy waging a battle against a tyrannical structure that long ago parted company with the ministry and praxis of Jesus of Nazareth. I respect and admire Rosemary for her resilience and fighting spirit to continue to engage the fascist forces of her own Church for so long.

May it continue!
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
She Rejects The Basic Premiss 17 Dec. 2011
By Steve Benedict - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Catholic Church is based upon a series of controversial claims: there is a God; God created everything; there was a Fall; God sent His only Son to Redeem the world. And get this: Christ founded...a Bible? Not according to the Bible. Indeed, the Bible doesn't indicated that Jesus ever wrote anything (except in the dirt on a memorable occasion), asked anybody to write anything, nor did he even prophecy a New Testament. According to the Bible, He founded a Church which is the pillar of truth. (It is members of the Church who wrote the Bible, and determined which books were/weren't inspired.)

So, what is the nature of the Church? According to the Bible (especially Acts and the Epistles), it is (in part) visible and hierarchical. Theological disputes are to be submitted to the hierarchy for decision (e.g., Acts 15). Why? Because the Church is protected from error. No, not THAT kind of error. Only error in TEACHINGS...and then only concerning FAITH and MORALS. That's the deal.

Now there are those who strongly disagree with these remarkable claims: which is their right. But what makes no sense at all is to reject these claims and then claim to be Catholic and to speak for Catholicism.

This author rejects the whole premiss of Catholicism: totally! And that is the fundamental problem with the book. Catholic does not equal "the Vatican", but it necessarily includes the successor of Peter (in which ever building complex), and teaching and doctrinal authority. Reject that, and you've rejected Catholicism.

The author would have Catholics go down the same dead end road that liberal Protestants have gone. Those who agree with the author form the parts of the Catholic Church which are disappearing--and who (with the remarkable exception of Cardinal Law) were the epicenter of the scandal. For when we pursue holiness we IMMEDIATELY run into our predominant faults: where our lack of objectivity is appalling. And there we are to make our own judgements?

The author embraces the values of a falling culture. She rejects the Church, but when those with REAL authority say "jump"--such as the New York Times--she asks how high!
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