Lucas Sharma, graduate student at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, has offered an insightful review of Catholic Activism Today in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion; thanks to Sharma for his time in this! I appreciated two of the book’s takeaways that Sharma identified: the way contemporary Catholics are bringing their faith and citizenship together in public life and the complex ways individuals, meso-level institutions (like parishes), and the Catholic hierarchy interact with one another. Sharma closes by identifying the multiple audiences that would find this book useful:
In conclusion, Day should be commended for an excellent book that contributes to a great legacy of Catholic sociology of religion. At the same time, the findings and questions raised above suggest that Catholic Activism Today could be helpful not just for sociologists, but for pastoral programs, church planning offices, seminaries, and schools of theology and ministry across the country.
Dr. Timothy Walch of the Hoover Presidential Library has published a positive review of my latest book in Choice, a journal for librarians. Not only did Dr. Walsh recommend the book, but in the expanded listing he also recognized the wide number of audiences this book would appeal to, including undergraduates, graduate students, researchers and faculty, and professionals and practitioners. I had hopes that the book would have theoretical and practical implications for multiple audiences and I’m glad to know that an emeritus colleague thought so, as well! As Choice reviews are very brief, I will paste the text here, but you can read the official version in the December 2020 issue (vol. 58, no. 4) and the review number is #58-0991.
The image of American Catholicism as rigid, unchanging, and immutable dates to colonial times. In fact, as Day (Franciscan School of Theology) notes, American Catholicism evolved from a republican style (1750–1820), to an immigrant tradition (1820–1920), and then to an evangelical impulse (1920–60). Since the 1960s, American Catholicism has developed an individualistic style that emphasizes discipleship at the parish level. Volunteerism is replacing institution building as a means of Catholic engagement. It is in this context that Day focuses on the work of JustFaith Ministries, which describes itself on its website as “a vast community of faithful people, transformed by the Spirit, and leading extraordinary lives of compassion.” Since 1989, JustFaith Ministries has enlisted 50,000 people in more than 1,500 churches to share its vision. Day studied JustFaith Ministries over the course of three years, and her conclusions are based on interviews, surveys, participant-observation data, and traditional printed secondary sources. Including two useful appendixes and a substantive bibliography, this readable, professional treatment of JustFaith Ministries puts the organization in the context of a larger social movement within American Catholicism.
It’s not too late to register for an amazing and free conference on Laudato Si’. The conference will run virtually July 13-15 and is co-sponsored by Creighton University and the Catholic Climate Covenant. I have the honor of sharing the opening keynote with Cardinal Blase Cupich. Whether you are new or a seasoned veteran of the climate change issue, there is something for everyone at this event. I hope you can join us!