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Practicing Catholic Paperback – 1 Jul 2010

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About the Author

James Carroll was raised in Washington, D.C., and ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1969. He served as a chaplain at Boston University from 1969 to 1974, then left the priesthood to become a writer. A distinguished scholar-in-residence at Suffolk University, he is a columnist for the Boston Globe and a regular contributor to the Daily Beast.

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x9920ace4) out of 5 stars 34 reviews
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e11d8e8) out of 5 stars Interesting. 18 May 2010
By JOHN FRANCIS - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There is no question in my mind that this book is worth reading and, perhaps, re-reading. There are many interesting points of view that Carroll brings out. Although I question the title, "Practicing Catholic", I assume this is a title only and not Carroll's description of himself, as I would find him to be practicing Catholicity, (the baptism of his son as an Episcopalian would not be considered a "Catholic" baptism by many in the Church). Carroll, although certainly knowledgable of which he speaks, tends to "theologize", something of which I don't think he is capable. Never-the-less his book gives many of us who have tried to practice Catholicity for years food for thought, and certainly brings out incidents of which most of us were unaware. I did find some of his writing to be burdensome and required a re-reading in many instances to see just what he was driving at. His histories of the various councils were intriguing although not in great depth but did cause one to want to learn more about each as they occured. He left no doubt about his feeling for Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, who, obviously, he found contentious and adversarial in many areas with which Carroll did not agree, and seems to hold him responsible for many of the problems the Church is facing today, problems that Vatican II tried to avoid. I also don't feel that Carroll actually had a vocation to the priesthood, although he completed his studies and served for five years, after which he was laicized, married a protestant (I do not say this negatively as we have such marriages within our family of which we are proud); and to keep peace in the family, I assume, he split his children's baptisms between two schools of thought. I think he had a love for the Church but not a true vocation, and did right by leaving the priesthood. His feelings toward war, other religions, about women etc. are commendable and are those of many of us who have followed Catholcism for years. All in all we feel Carroll's problem was with authority. At one point he seems to indicate that it was "obedience" that was the primary cause of his leaving the priesthood....which would indicate to me that his problem was with authority, (with the exception of Cardinal Cushing who seemed to let Carroll do his thing). I wish he had expounded more on his visit with Hans Kung, a person many of us have admired for years. I do think Carroll shows signs of slight paranoia when he tries to relate the burning of the chapel at B.U. with the election of our new Pope, did his dislike of Ratzinger influence this inclusion? Carroll did convince me that the one thing Jesus wanted was simplicity. Throughout the years our Church fathers have managed to complicate things to a complexity to which many cannot proscribe. Caroll has shown that, similar to our present secular surroundings, there are two sides to the Catholic Church, conservative and liberal, and so far the conservatives seem to have control. I am not convinced that Jesus was a conservative nor did He expect things to turn out the way they have. He just wanted everyone to be good. He did not have scholars around him, He had ordinary working people, and He had sinners. Needless to say I am still a "Practicing Catholic", and I let my conscience be my guide, which is what I think Carroll is really saying. Finally I came to the conclusion that Carroll was "theologizing", and although he left many questions open, he did express opinions, some of which I don't particularly agree. He does however show his "trust" in God, and like many of us seems to feel that God is all loving. My only question is: Is God's love surpassed by his justice? This has long been a question in my mind but Carroll has shown me that perhaps His love exceeds all else, as we are all His creations. I plan to re-read this book as it has certainly caused me to do a lot of thinking.
30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e11d93c) out of 5 stars Why Is James Carroll a Practicing Catholic? 23 Dec. 2009
By Thomas J. Farrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
At nearly 400 pages, James Carroll's PRACTICING CATHOLIC is a readable assortment of reflections on the life and times of the author and selected other practicing Catholics admired by the author. Both Catholics and interested non-Catholics will probably find this book accessible and informative. In addition to matters detailed in the text, the book includes a handy five-page "Twentieth-Century American Catholic Chronology," discussion notes, and an index. I give this book a five-star rating for being well written.

In two earlier autobiographical books, AN AMERICAN REQUIEM: GOD, MY FATHER, AND THE WAR THAT CAME BETWEEN US (1996) and HOUSE OF WAR: THE PENTAGON AND THE DISASTROUS RISE OF AMERICAN POWER (2006), James Carroll has detailed the basic outlines of his life. He left his undergraduate studies at Georgetown University to become a seminarian for the priesthood in the Paulist religious order. After he was ordained a priest in 1969, he served as chaplain at Boston University during protests against the Vietnam War, a war that he himself protested against, despite his father's prominent position in the military. However, the author subsequently became a formally and officially laicized former priest as well as a playwright, novelist, and columnist. In addition to publishing a number of novels, he has also published a detailed critique of the Roman Catholic Church's tragic mistreatment of Jews over the centuries, CONSTANTINE'S SWORD: THE CHURCH AND THE JEWS: A HISTORY (2001). Thus in various ways, Catholicism has been a central feature of James Carroll's life.

However, despite his published critique of the history of the Catholic Church, it's his choice to remain a practicing Catholic. However, after reading his book PRACTICING CATHOLIC, I cannot tell you why he remains a practicing Catholic -- or why he does not stop being a practicing Catholic.

In PRACTICING CATHOLIC, the author highlights his admiration for Pope John XXIII, the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), and the prolific theologian Hans Kung. Hans Kung was at one time stripped of his appointment of a Roman Catholic teaching post for being too liberal to suit the Vatican's far more conservative bent. Like Hans Kung, James Carroll is not pleased with the conservative bent of the Roman Catholic Church since Vatican II. But in this book he accentuates the positive as much as he can.

Not surprisingly, he finds times in his life as a practicing Catholic and in the lives of other practicing Catholics to remember fondly and cherish and celebrate. It strikes me as appropriate to give credit where credit is due, as he does repeatedly throughout the book. Good for him. Wouldn't his life have been empty if he had no memories after all these years that he could fondly remember of himself as a practicing Catholic and of other practicing Catholics?
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9990b15c) out of 5 stars Intensely personal memoir, perceptive analysis; hopeful forecasts 2 Nov. 2010
By Elder Brother - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Carroll captures the angst many Catholics who remained in the church after Vatican II's reforms were implemented are currently experiencing as the hierarchy follows a recidivist, retrograde ultramontanist course of action that rejects the teachings embodied in the documents of Vatican II. For Catholics who struggled through the examination, evaluation and reform of the church practices and teachings that followed the Council, the current climate of Tridentine triumphalism (especially on the part of the bishops appointed by JPII) is a source of sorrow and discouragement. Carroll speaks for many catholics, disappointed by the failure of leadership in the church, and proposes remedies that lead to a more hopeful future for those committed to the Church envisioned by the Fathers of the Council and Blessed John XXIII.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9990b318) out of 5 stars Fascinating personal view of Catholicism in the last century and in this one. 2 July 2010
By Anne Rice - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recommend this book. That doesn't mean I endorse every position taken in it by James Carroll. But I think this is an eloquent and very readable personal account of what it has meant to Carroll to be Catholic in his life, and --- as he has lived through Vatican II and the aftermath, as well as the great cultural revolutions of the 60's and 70's, as he has witnessed the Clergy abuse scandal unfold, and was there during the years before the scandal broke, Carroll has a great deal to say which is more than simply interesting. I was not a practicing Catholic during the years that Carroll describes and he has given me valuable insights into how Vatican II was perceived by his generation of priests, and additional insights in many other complex questions and historically important issues. Carroll comes off as an intelligent, generous and sensitive man, who is deeply engrossed in the major cultural developments of this country, and of the Church. This is a memoir that offers an enormous amount to the reader, including an informed and critical perspective on Pope John Paul II and the present Pope Benedict.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e11f480) out of 5 stars Conflict and conscientious (personal) reconciliations with Faith 12 Oct. 2010
By JSC Siow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A sensitively written socio-cultural history of the Catholic church from his perspective as a then-priest and subsequent layperson, Carroll renders his account with clear and conscientious appreciation for the conflicted legacies of the Church's history and hierarchy, church leaders' conduct, as well as its wider social impacts and implications on interfaith relations. A timely critique based on conscientious and loving but morally conflicted objections - highly recommended even if only as an artifact of how one person works through, renders and reconciles with aspects of his faith through turbulent times.
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