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!
I’m very excited to share with you that Catholic Activism Today earned Honorable Mention in the Catholic Media Association’s 2021 awards! I received this honor for the Catholic Social Teaching category along with the following winners: The Meal That Reconnects by Mary E. McGann (first), Peacebuilding and Catholic Social Teaching by Theodora Hawksley (second), and Blood in the Fields: Óscar Romero, Catholic Social Teaching, and Land Reform by Matthew Philipp Whelan (third). You can take a look at the complete list of this year’s winners here.
Just in time for your summer reading list!
My thanks go out to Dr. Peter Baltutis, Associate Professor of History and Religious Studies at St. Mary’s University in Calgary, Canada, for his generous review of my latest book. Dr. Baltutis and I have several overlapping interests that are explored in the book–including Modern Catholicism, Catholic social teaching and service learning–so it was truly affirming to read his positive assessment of Catholic Activism Today in Studies in Religion / Sciences Religieuses. Here are some excerpts of the review:
More than a narrow study of one faith-based organization, Day effectively uses JFM to draw some important conclusions about the strengths and weaknesses of this new discipleship style and the implications that it has for the contemporary Catholic Church… Day’s thought-provoking study of the emergent discipleship style of American public Catholicism is most helpful to scholars seeking to understand contemporary Catholic life and the newest wave of Catholic civic engagement.
Congratulations to Dr. Jean-Luc Marion on the release of the English edition of his book, A Brief Apology for a Catholic Moment (University of Chicago Press). Dr. Rich Wood and I offer our praise on the back of the book:
“This book deserves the fullest attention of all who care about the future of democracy. Writing for people of secular conviction as much as for people of faith, Marion offers a powerful thesis: If we are to overcome our current societal struggles and political impasses and find any kind of shared future, Christianity represents an irreplaceable public voice. In particular, Catholicism offers cultural resources the world needs in order to face this moment. But to offer that gift successfully, Catholics must be more truly Catholic.”– Richard L. Wood, author of Faith in Action: Religion, Race, and Democratic Organizing in America
“A rich and comprehensive philosophical analysis of Catholicism in contemporary France. And yet, the questions Marion raises have significance for Catholics globally, as they also assess the relationship of their faith to the public sphere. Through its insights on separation, crisis, communion and more, A Brief Apology for a Catholic Moment is guaranteed to shape the philosophical imagination of its readers.”– Maureen K. Day, author of Catholic Activism Today: Personal Transformation and the Struggle for Social Justice
I’m excited to share with you a review of my newest book that just came out in Sociology of Religion. My thanks go out in particular to the reviewer, Audra Dugandzic, who is working on her PhD in sociology at the University of Notre Dame; her comments, criticisms and praise are appreciated! Here is the final paragraph of Dugandzic’s review:
Day’s in-depth portrait of JustFaith Ministries serves as an illuminating case for anyone interested in civic engagement, religious or not, especially in the tensions between justice and charity. For sociologists and theologians alike, Day also offers thought-provoking discussion about the role of the Catholic Church in the American public square.
The Commission on the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition has published my post, “Contemplating the Trinity: A Lenten Exercise” on their blog. It is a reflection on the prayer that concludes St. Francis’s “A Letter to the Entire Order,” which offers much to contemplate in this season of Lent. Enjoy!
My blogpost for Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs came out today. My post, “Catholics and American Public Life: Problems and Possibilities,” discusses two Catholic experiences in American public life, and the challenges and opportunities Church leaders face as they attempt to articulate a more robust public Catholicism. My post was part of a larger collection that explores the election of Joe Biden and Catholicism in U.S. Politics. I’d definitely encourage those interested in learning more about American Catholic public life to read the whole series as they are very well-written pieces.
The newest issue of The Way of St. Francis has just come out and in it you can read my reflection on experiencing Lent during a pandemic. I draw upon the scholarship of medieval historian Bert Roest and his analysis of the eremitical tradition and the life of the Order. I use this to consider the ways the our own homes can act as a hermitage in this season of Lent (and our lives more broadly). You can read my piece, “Entering Lent From a Hermitage,” here.