two faint cheers for lukewarm Catholicism

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 25, 2007

In an interesting op-ed column today (available only to subscribers), David Brooks of the New York Times notes that Catholics have flourished in America, socially and economically, when they have remained within the Church, but ignored her more demanding teachings. "They have found themselves in a quasi-religious sweet spot," he says.

Religious people prosper in American society, Brooks argues-- as long as they aren't too religious. In other words they prosper when their ultimate goal is prosperity. If their ultimate goal is sanctity... Well, that complicates things.

The lesson for the upwardly mobile in America, Brooks concludes, is:

Always try to be the least believing member of the one of the more observant sects.

The problem, though, is that it's very difficult to spread enthusiasm for this half-baked approach to religion. As Brooks puts it,

Nobody wants to read a book called God is Right Most of the Time.

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  • Posted by: - May. 28, 2007 2:21 AM ET USA

    Good ol' Father John Corapi most likely would pen the following as the subtitle of the article: "How to Inspire the Faithful into Engaging in Mediocrity at Best and Heading for Hell at Worst."

  • Posted by: - May. 27, 2007 7:14 PM ET USA

    Pray that Mr. Brooks will get fired from the New York Times. He was once a good conservative. This is but the latest piece of evidence that he has been corrupted. Would you like to have Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd as colleagues?

  • Posted by: - May. 27, 2007 5:13 PM ET USA

    A propos "God is right most of the time." The Holy Ghost Fathers at my parish (of whom I am frequently critical in this space) have taken to printing a "Christian One-Liner" in each Sunday's bulletin. Most of them are slightly on the insipid side, but today's was: If God is your Copilot, Swap seats!

  • Posted by: - May. 26, 2007 8:24 AM ET USA

    What astonishing hutzpah. The New York Times defining American Catholicism! But wasn't there a scripture passage about the Lord vomiting the lukewarm from his mouth?

  • Posted by: - May. 25, 2007 8:05 PM ET USA

    I suppose the USCCB will discuss this at their next meeting. They will probably hire another PR firm for $500,000.00 to "counteract" the message of lukewarmness!

  • Posted by: - May. 25, 2007 4:48 PM ET USA

    I think Mr. Brooks describes American Catholics perfectly. They have the Church and the hierarchy they prefer. Bishops ask nothing of them except a check and the entire system is completely corrupt. The real reason for the motu proprio has nothing to do with Latin per se. It is a return to the last time Catholicism was credible and therefore effective. Narrow the gate which leads to eternal life and few there are who find it.

  • Posted by: - May. 25, 2007 4:07 PM ET USA

    Doesn't scripture say, "Blessed are the lukewarm, for they shall prosper in the material world"? And doesn't Revelations say, "This believer is too hot. And this one is too cold. But this one is jusssst right!"?

  • Posted by: - May. 25, 2007 12:30 PM ET USA

    The New York Times gives irrelevance a bad name!