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.

Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 8 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Bernadette - Mar. 11, 2010 1:42 PM ET USA

    Great point, Diogenes! Yes, who among the politicians has been convinced to change? By all means, call them in, charitably catechize. Still stubbornly rejecting, then refuse Holy Communion. These people are not Catholics. No Communion. The only courageous prelate I know of for sure is Archbishop Burke and he is now head of the Apostolic Signatura. Can he not issue a command like the "no more use of Yahweh"? Send that email NOW!

  • Posted by: Bernadette - Mar. 11, 2010 1:34 PM ET USA

    I know this is beside the point, but why is it that so many faithful and knowledgeable Catholics continue to use the term "Eucharistic Ministers" when this has been reprobated (RS). Are we not to use: "Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion"? Using the proper appellation puts an entirely different perspective on the use of EMHC, does it not?

  • Posted by: unum - Mar. 11, 2010 7:29 AM ET USA

    In the meantime, while the bishops are figuring our what the politicians are saying, the faithful wander in confusion. How can we know what these learned prelates really mean when they speak about abortion. Is abortion morally wrong unless you are a politician? A Democrat? A Democrat in a tight race for reelection? These bishops appear to be letting their politics override their obligation to "teach as Jesus did". They need to get their priorities straight.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Mar. 10, 2010 11:17 PM ET USA

    Instead of the Church Militant, what we have today is the Church Impotent!

  • Posted by: voxfem - Mar. 10, 2010 9:52 PM ET USA

    On the charitable side, perhaps they will begin their job of instructing the ignorant and then come to the realization that if the politicians remain "pro-choice", they're really not Catholic and shouldn't be receiving Holy Communion. Pray the Mary and Jesus lead them.

  • Posted by: William F. Folger - Mar. 10, 2010 8:54 PM ET USA

    Babies on Death-Roe get little priority & too shallow EMPATHY from American Catholic Bishops. Hence the USCCB OWES the babies and Catholic politicians a Manhattan-Project-PRIORITY effort yielding a short, cut-to-the-chase letter clearly explaining why Catholic Politicians cannot BE both Catholic & Pro-Choice, with the inclusion of what “limit the evil” means, referencing John Paul II & Benedict XVI. No waiting until after November; it can be done in two weeks via their intra-Conference email.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 10, 2010 7:25 PM ET USA

    It's a shame that it happens to be two of the seemingly more orthodox prelates who are hiding behind their own cassocks. Making examples of those who defy the Church regarding abortion might save the souls of these politicians and many other people...but for the want of fortitude.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Mar. 10, 2010 2:15 PM ET USA

    Is there simply cowardice here unwilling to take on the rage and gnashing of teeth from the usual suspects were penalties to be imposed? This undercuts the whole notion of abortion being an unspeakable crime. Actions speak louder than words and many of our bishops are sadly lacking in action.