I just received Father John Neuhaus's book, "Catholic Matters" to read over spring break (Of course I'm going to start it now! Why wait?!). It begins talking about "American Catholicism." Which I found very interesting. Not that I didn't know what he is talking about, but rather, I found it interesting on how clearly he presented it. This is what I got out of it so far:
In America, Catholicism is viewed as a choice, not as something that really matters. Even though it matters ultimately. Americans have become church-hoppers. Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal, Baptist, you name it--it doesn't seem to make much difference to millions of American Christians. Some would say that this is explainable due to our American society. Don't we pride ourselves on being a free market society where choice rules over all? Why shouldn't there be a free market in religion?
This "church-hopping" is simply church shopping in search of "spirituality that meets my needs." A while ago, it was alright for different denominations to say why they were right, and others were wrong. But now, it seems as though talking about truth, or right or wrong is over with. While "talking about my needs, and wants" is growing.
One will see the switching from Lutheran to Presbyterian (or Baptist, Methodist, etc.) goes, mostly, unnoticed. Switching from one denomination to another (if not non-denominational; become bigger and bigger) are religious preferences that are "in the religious community." But, if you were to announce that you were converting to Catholicism, you would receive sharp questioning. Catholics in America seem to be the religious "other."
--I will periodically write my thoughts, passages, and my perceptions of this book down as I read it. I already knew it was a great book. Now that I began reading it, I love it! I suggest this book to whomever; young, old, devout, all would get MUCH out of this book.