Sense of the Faithful: How American Catholics Live Their Faith

Hardcover | December 19, 2008

byJerome P. Baggett

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The image of the "cafeteria Catholic"--one who blithely picks and chooses those doctrines that suit him--is a staple of American culture. But are American Catholics really so nonchalant about how they integrate the ancient devotional practices of Catholicism with the everyday struggles of themodern world? For Sense of the Faithful, Jerome Baggett conducted 300 intensive interviews with members of six parishes to explore all aspects of this question. The book is an act of listening that allows ordinary Catholics to speak for themselves about how they understand their faith and how theydraw upon it to find purpose in their lives. Many American Catholics do indeed have an uneasy relationship with the official teachings of the Church and struggle to live faithfully amidst the challenges of the modern world. But Baggett finds that it is a genuine struggle, one that reveals a dynamicand self-aware relationship to the Church's teachings. Moving beyond the simplistic categories of national surveys and the politically-motivated pronouncements of pundits, Sense of the Faithful ultimately paints a more complex--and more accurate--portrait of what it is like to be Catholic in Americatoday.

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The image of the "cafeteria Catholic"--one who blithely picks and chooses those doctrines that suit him--is a staple of American culture. But are American Catholics really so nonchalant about how they integrate the ancient devotional practices of Catholicism with the everyday struggles of themodern world? For Sense of the Faithful, J...

Jerome Baggett is Associate Professor of Religion and Society at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley and a member of the Core Doctoral Faculty at the Graduate Theological Union. He is the author of Habitat for Humanity: Building Private Homes, Building Public Religion.

other books by Jerome P. Baggett

Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.3 × 6.3 × 1.2 inPublished:December 19, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195326954

ISBN - 13:9780195326956

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"Cutting through cliches like 'cafeteria Catholics' and going beyond the false dichotomies like 'spiritual versus religious, ' Jerome Baggett's sensitive probing yields great insights into the different ways of being Catholic in America-ways that manifest depth and richness, but which also show severe limitations. Essential reading for those who would understand rather than pontificate."--Charles Taylor, Northwestern University, author of A Secular Age "As everything from extremist cults to right-wing religious crusaders occupies the attention of newscasters and many scholars, American Catholics remain understudied and poorly understood. Jerome Baggett's fine book changes that. Now at last we have an authoritative and engagingly written study of practicing Catholics at the grassroots and close up. Readers who thought religion was waning except on the margins will have their views challenged again and again." --Robert Wuthnow, Princeton University, author of After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion "American Catholicism is undergoing dramatic cultural and demographic changes. Yet we know far too little about what that looks, sounds, and feels like on the ground among ordinary Catholics -- much less what it all means. Sense of the Faithful helps to remedy this problem, offering a well-informed and enlightening view of Catholic faith viewed from the grassroots. It will stimulate important conversations." --Christian Smith, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, co-author of Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don't Give Away More Money