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A vivid critique of American life today and a guide to how Christians—and particularly Catholics--can live their faith vigorously, and even with hope, in a post-Christian public square. From Charles J. Chaput, author of Living the Catholic Faith and Render unto Caesar comes Strangers in a Strange Land, a fresh, urgent, and ultimately hopeful treatise on the state of Cathol A vivid critique of American life today and a guide to how Christians—and particularly Catholics--can live their faith vigorously, and even with hope, in a post-Christian public square. From Charles J. Chaput, author of Living the Catholic Faith and Render unto Caesar comes Strangers in a Strange Land, a fresh, urgent, and ultimately hopeful treatise on the state of Catholicism and Christianity in the United States. America today is different in kind, not just in degree, from the past. And this new reality is unlikely to be reversed. The reasons include, but aren't limited to, economic changes that widen the gulf between rich and poor; problems in the content and execution of the education system; the decline of traditional religious belief among young people; the shift from organized religion among adults to unbelief or individualized spiritualities; changes in legal theory and erosion in respect for civil and natural law; significant demographic shifts; profound new patterns in sexual behavior and identity; the growth of federal power and its disregard for religious rights; the growing isolation and elitism of the leadership classes; and the decline of a sustaining sense of family and community.


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A vivid critique of American life today and a guide to how Christians—and particularly Catholics--can live their faith vigorously, and even with hope, in a post-Christian public square. From Charles J. Chaput, author of Living the Catholic Faith and Render unto Caesar comes Strangers in a Strange Land, a fresh, urgent, and ultimately hopeful treatise on the state of Cathol A vivid critique of American life today and a guide to how Christians—and particularly Catholics--can live their faith vigorously, and even with hope, in a post-Christian public square. From Charles J. Chaput, author of Living the Catholic Faith and Render unto Caesar comes Strangers in a Strange Land, a fresh, urgent, and ultimately hopeful treatise on the state of Catholicism and Christianity in the United States. America today is different in kind, not just in degree, from the past. And this new reality is unlikely to be reversed. The reasons include, but aren't limited to, economic changes that widen the gulf between rich and poor; problems in the content and execution of the education system; the decline of traditional religious belief among young people; the shift from organized religion among adults to unbelief or individualized spiritualities; changes in legal theory and erosion in respect for civil and natural law; significant demographic shifts; profound new patterns in sexual behavior and identity; the growth of federal power and its disregard for religious rights; the growing isolation and elitism of the leadership classes; and the decline of a sustaining sense of family and community.

30 review for Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tom LA

    Wonderful book by the Archbishop of Philadelphia (second ever Native American to be ordained a Bishop) about living the Christian faith today, everywhere in the world, but in particular in the United States. The title hints at the fact that Catholicism is counter-cultural, especially in today’s Western world. Chaput addresses every area of concern, and at times the reader might be tempted to feel like this is a “grumpy old man” complaining about a fast-changing world, but that's not the case. Cat Wonderful book by the Archbishop of Philadelphia (second ever Native American to be ordained a Bishop) about living the Christian faith today, everywhere in the world, but in particular in the United States. The title hints at the fact that Catholicism is counter-cultural, especially in today’s Western world. Chaput addresses every area of concern, and at times the reader might be tempted to feel like this is a “grumpy old man” complaining about a fast-changing world, but that's not the case. Catholics today, if they are serious, find themselves almost entirely in conflict with the mainstream western way of thinking. The Christian message remains one of the most revolutionary way of thinking about ourselves and the world, especially today with every adult struggling to get rid of their teenage mentality (basically, today it is generally harder to grow up, because we have more comfort). The author also embraces the basic constructive energy of Christianity, as he states “believers don’t have the luxury of despair”. Despair as in the Psalms, yes, of course. But despair meaning not seeing any light in your life, no, if you believe in God you will always see that light (in fact, even the bleakest Psalms end up with a ray of light and a word of faithful hope). See an interview with the author about the book at this link : https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/0... P.s. this is the guy who gave about $4 mil to Bishop Robert Barron to produce his wonderful “Catholicism” documentary series.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Charles Haywood

    This is a self-help book. I don’t mean it’s to be found in the bookstore under the sign “Self-Help,” where people gather to remake their lives by unlocking the secret of costless auto-regeneration. Rather, this is a self-help book because it, like the famous Kitchener poster, points at the reader and says, “You—there is a problem, and you are the solution.” Of course, since the author, Charles Chaput, is a bishop (and an archbishop at that), and this is not Pelagianism, the reader is not expecte This is a self-help book. I don’t mean it’s to be found in the bookstore under the sign “Self-Help,” where people gather to remake their lives by unlocking the secret of costless auto-regeneration. Rather, this is a self-help book because it, like the famous Kitchener poster, points at the reader and says, “You—there is a problem, and you are the solution.” Of course, since the author, Charles Chaput, is a bishop (and an archbishop at that), and this is not Pelagianism, the reader is not expected to act in isolation, but with the guidance and help of God. He is to act nonetheless, and much hinges on what he does. There has been a spate of books in late 2016 and early 2017 focused on the theme of Christian regeneration. The theme is both broader and narrower than that, really. Broader in that it encompasses not only Christians, but any group of people with a transcendent moral vision, compatible with the culture of the West, who believe in both objective reality and objective morality. Most, but not all, of these people are orthodox Christians, but they could be agnostic or pagan. Broader, also, in that it encompasses cultural renewal beyond the purely religious. Narrower, because its main focus is a subset of most of what people call or think of as “Christian.” After all, what most “Christians” today profess bears little resemblance to the historical reality of Christian belief, which they either deny or ignore, in favor of something content-free, guilt-free, and reward-free: the Snackwells of religion, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. "Strangers in a Strange Land" is explicitly Catholic in its orientation and little focused on specific political issues. And it is suffused with hope—not optimism, as Chaput makes clear, but with a joyful hope and confidence. Nearly ten years ago, Chaput wrote "Render Unto Caesar," where he called for renewed Catholic (and Christian) activity in the public sphere. Since then, the juggernaut of left-liberal worship of autonomic individualism has ground onward, most recently in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision rejecting the idea that standards of sexual morality can be based in anything other than malice, and like the original Juggernaut of Hindu processions, it crushes humans under its wheels. The space for Christian public participation is thus smaller now than it was then. But Chaput is the first to admit that it is not just our overlords, but our whole society, that has adopted a new definition of what it means to be human—namely, nothing in particular at all, except our own unfettered pursuit of whatever catches our fancy. Chaput, naturally, espouses the opposite view: that as humans, we are not always remaking ourselves, but that there is such a thing as “authentically human,” and it is knowable. And, since his earlier book, what is new in society is that his position, always the position of our culture since the beginning, is now stigmatized and punished by both society and government, a trend Chaput believes will continue. Nonetheless, he still counsels hope and action—but with less focus on action in the public sphere, and more on our private action, by ourselves and in our communities. But, like I say, this is self-help book, and that implies each of us taking responsibility for where we are as well as where we are going. Chaput points the finger not so much at government as at us. He cites Augustine to the effect “it’s no use complaining about the times, because we are the times.” (In some ways, this book, and the genre, are perhaps too narrowly focused. As Chaput notes, Christianity is exploding around the globe, even in China, and it is not the desiccated, enervated faith found even in most Catholics in the West. But that doesn’t help our culture.) I think this is an excellent, valuable book. However, as a self-help book to solve the problems it identifies, it falls somewhat short. On the other hand, it succeeds as a book of informative essays about Christian regeneration and the role of Christians in our society as it is today. Moreover, it is a an excellent introduction to a wide range of important thinkers, both secular (a very wide range, from Tocqueville to Tolkein) and religious (Chaput extensively cites both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis). As a self-help book the problem is that it is not unified enough—a real call to action pushes or pulls the reader through, each section either coming at the issue from a different angle or furthering conclusions from prior sections, so that the net effect is like John Henry’s hammer. Strangers in a Strange Land sometimes feels a bit academic and disjointed—it is really a series of essays, and within each essay, sometimes it lacks adequate focus. For example, in an early chapter on how we got where we are culturally, and why we can’t go back, Chaput jumps from the failure of immigrants to remain Catholic (or even Christian), to the costs of geographic mobility, to the costs of technology, to a discussion of the social differences between a society of production and a society of consumption in the thinking of Zygmunt Bauman—all in the space of six pages, ending the chapter. The next chapter is a rumination on home, pulling together the Bible, the Wizard of Oz, "The Magician’s Nephew," "The Silmarillion," and much more, to serve the thesis that we are idol worshipers, of the false god of progress, for which we forsake recognition of a higher purpose of humanity. This is all very good. But each chapter does not follow from, or really fit with except in a general sense, any other chapter. Yes, someone interested in the theme of Christian regeneration can read all the chapters with profit. But the revivalist spirit of an outstanding self-help book is lacking. This book is also an entry in another, related genre—questioning whether the entire American political experiment is a failure, and was doomed to failure from the start due to the hidden poison in its premises. Prior to modern times, democracy was always held to be the worst form of government. The American founding combined a type of democracy with extensive personal freedoms and attendant structural limitations, to create a new type of government in the hope of limiting the vices inherent in previous forms. The American Republic seemed successful, but astute observers such as Tocqueville early predicted that the system would lead both to continual erosion of any limit on the individual’s will, especially of limits that “create bonds and duties among citizens,” and, just as importantly, to a concomitant rise in the power and despotism of the state, which would replace the organic structures of society with obeisance to the state, the power of which would be directed more and more against any who would suggest limits to human freedom, especially religions. A line of thinkers, mostly cited by Chaput, has developed these thoughts, starting in the 20th Century with Robert Nisbet, but as our culture has decayed in the direction predicted, more and more thinkers have latched onto this pessimistic view. In this book, though, the focus is (naturally) more on religion than on political theory, but there are clear threads of this genre in Strangers in a Strange Land. The book is well written and easy to read. It has twelve chapters, each of almost exactly twenty pages. Chaput begins with an overview of the book, and then a chapter on the history of Christianity in America. He then turns to “Why It Can’t Be Like It Was,” a corrective to those orthodox Christians (who are fewer now than they were) who think that all we need to do is get the right votes on the Supreme Court and we can have once again a society with a common, coherent moral vision. Here, as elsewhere, the examples and authors Chaput cites are well-known—not just Obergefell, but others such as the lynch mob that attacked Memories Pizza, joined by the media and egged on by President Obama, and, less recently, the changes in society wrought by easy birth control and widespread pornography. But Chaput’s primary focus isn’t on sexual issues (although those are important because sex “is intimately linked to how we understand ourselves as human,” which is a key theme of Chaput’s book)—it’s on how very few Christians even know what a Christian life looks like, one shaped by an actual belief in a revealed God who requires certain actions, largely because we have failed to transmit those beliefs to our children for several decades. And this builds on itself—as the family erodes, since it serves as the main transmission of these beliefs, the problem compounds. The first several chapters are overview and analysis; the last several are a exhortation to hope and, to a degree, a call to action. Chaput’s basic point in the first section is, since our culture now recognizes no first principles (citing Alisdair MacIntyre’s 1981 "After Virtue" extensively), “The moral conflicts that permeate our public policy debates are endless and irresolvable because our culture no longer has a rational, mutually accepted way of getting to moral agreement.” And, as a result, combined with an ever-more-extreme societal desire for atomized autonomic liberty, the government is now used to attack and destroy those who do not conform all public aspects of their personal morality to each latest moral degeneration, including by failing to adequately publicly celebrate it themselves. In the second section, Chaput focuses on hope, a core Christian virtue, and what it implies for Christian action in today’s America. He contrasts hope to its flip-side sins: despair and presumption. While he doesn’t say this explicitly, despair is the besetting vice of today’s American orthodox Christians, and presumption is the vice of today’s go-along, get-along Christians. He finds neither appropriate. In another chapter, Chaput contrasts the rules of Saul Alinsky with the rules of another radical: Christ, in the Beatitudes. This is the section in which it comes through most clearly that Chaput is, after all, a shepherd, not a political advocate or the creator of a new philosophy to remake the world. Speaking of the “mourning” of the Beatitudes, he notes that “this is mourning as witness,” including that Christians should weep for “the man in the homeless shelter . . . the gay teenager caught between promiscuity and condemnation”—people conservatives sometimes forget, or if they don’t forget, gloss over and fail to prioritize. Thus, hope in action is living the Beatitudes; it is growing in communion with our fellow believers. It is not, by implication, working for a specific political party or unveiling a new set of bureaucratic initiatives for the Church. It is living the Christian life to its fullest, in the way of the anonymous Second Century writer of the "Letter to Diognetus," who wrote a chapter on “The Christians in the World”—at a time, much like ours, in which paganism was strong, though the idols today take largely different forms from that time (perhaps not that different—infanticide/abortion, sexual confusion, and euthanasia were common then too). Christians are to live in the world, “but in their own lives [ ] go far beyond what the laws require,” showing that love for others remarked on by many non-Christian Romans. Chaput, therefore, rejects the option “to withdraw, to shake the dust from our feet and retreat to the margins.” He rejects this because “the world will come after us. . . . .The Church and Christian beliefs will be resented simply because they exist, they have life, and they move faithful persons to act.” And, more importantly, “God calls us to be the soul of the world. As the 'Letter to Diognetus' reminds us, the task to which God calls us is to hold the world together.” To that end, we need (citing Rod Dreher, ubiquitous in today’s such discussions) “countercultural places that we make for ourselves, together.” But doing that, we should be certain “we don’t give up on the good still present in American society.” And we should be politically involved to the extent necessary to protect what defenses we still have, and to “defend the truth of the human being.” He cites Havel, who spoke of Communism, of course, but Chaput applies it to today’s Christians: “The power of living the truth does not consist in physical strength or threats, but [as Havel said] ‘in the light it casts’ on the ‘pillars [of a mendacious] system and on its unstable foundations.’” We should show ourselves, and evangelize, and uphold our beliefs and our culture in the public eye, while not entangling ourselves to the degree it prevents us from being “distinctly Christian and distinctly countercultural” (citing Dreher again). This means, as Chaput quotes Flannery O’Connor, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.” It is that oddity, in the eyes of the world, which it is necessary to make flourish. This is all good advice, it seems to me, but it is very close to being needle-threading advice. I think Chaput understates the degree to which, as Havel experienced, the iron fist of the state will oppose even the wholly private beliefs of Christians. And today’s state has both power and aspirations far vaster and far more intrusive than those of Rome or even of the Communists of the mid-20th Century. The range of today’s private sphere is vanishingly small, and Moloch is within the gates. For people like me, who, basically, want to view themselves as Hospitallers or Templars in a new videogame: "Call of Duty: Anno Domini 1120", Chaput’s call, though certainly not wrong, seems a trifle anodyne. “That, in the end, is our calling as Christians: to make Christ known in the world. To hand on the hope that fills our hearts. To work for God’s justice in our nation, honoring all that remains beautiful and good in it. And always to do so knowing that we’re on a journey to our final homeland.” This is all true, but it is not a clear guide to concrete action. Maybe it is enough—but maybe we could use a bit more Pope Urban, and a bit less Pope Francis.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julie Davis

    We've spoken frankly so far about the American landscape as we now know it. Some of the words have been difficult. But candor is not an enemy of love. And real hope begins in honesty. The current spirit of our country inclines us to be troubled. It's a sensible temptation. How can any one person or small group of people make a difference? How can we change and renew things so that our children grow up in a better world? We come back to a question suggested at the start of this book: How can we We've spoken frankly so far about the American landscape as we now know it. Some of the words have been difficult. But candor is not an enemy of love. And real hope begins in honesty. The current spirit of our country inclines us to be troubled. It's a sensible temptation. How can any one person or small group of people make a difference? How can we change and renew things so that our children grow up in a better world? We come back to a question suggested at the start of this book: How can we live in joy, and serve the common good as leaven, in a culture that no longer shares what we believe? As we might expect from the author of Render Unto Caesar, this is a book which focuses on how we can live both an authentically Catholic life and an American life in changing, chaotic times. The first half of the book examines our nation's history, especially as it is tied to religion; how our society became "post Christian;" and why it will not return to the way it was. That last truth hit me hard. I'm not someone who thinks restoring a few laws is going to change the national psyche but I think I felt as if everything would settle back into old norms at some point. Absorbing Chaput's explanation was tough. But if we don't know the truth, then we aren't on firm ground for future decisions. So I'm grateful. The second half looks at where we go from here, as Catholics, as Americans. I found it realistic and hope-filled and inspiring. What is hope and how do we maintain it? How do Jesus' promises in the Beatitudes apply to our lives and times? What does it mean to be the "people of God" in a distracted and unbelieving age? Chaput's answer is one that I have always felt is a basic truth, perhaps because I myself came from a completely secular life before my conversion. We begin by reforming our own hearts, being authentic Christian witnesses by living our own lives with conviction. We have to be in love with our faith and with God. That is what spills over as we go into the world for work, school, and all the things that make up a normal life. It may not always be easy, but, let's face it, we've been spoiled. All you have to do is look at the way Christians are persecuted around the world to see that. In different ways, with varying directness, Chaput repeatedly points out that people living a fully Christian life make a difference in the world. Jesus uses three images to describe using our gifts for God's kingdom: salt, light, and leaven, or yeast. ... Note the logic at work here. Yeast mixes with flour and makes dough rise. We sprinkle salt on our food, and the meal tastes better. We turn on the lights of a dark room so we can see. The yeast, salt, and light aren't the focus of our attention. Rather, they impart their qualities to something else to make it better. And so it should be with the work of the Church in the world. Chaput directly addresses why withdrawing from the world won't work. I found his first reason the most compelling: "The world will come after us" because reminders of an abandoned past will be increasingly irritating. In his discussion of forming a Catholic identity, Chaput acknowledges the Benedict Option idea, albeit without naming it specifically, adding: This is wisdom, so long as we don't give up on the good present in American society. We need to create places where Catholic culture can flourish and be handed down to the next generation. ... I'm not a fan of the Benedict Option, at least as I've read about it to date, but I do think it has begun a much needed discussion. Catholics and, indeed, all Christians need to be mindful of the uneasy ground beneath our feet as our society goes through a watershed moment. Strangers in a Strange Land is a clear-sighted road map to where we've been and where we need to head now.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Grady

    I'm grateful to have received an Early Reader copy of this book. As a progressive Protestant, I'm perhaps not the target audience of this book, but the blurb sounded interesting: "...an empowering guide to how Christians - and particularly Catholics - can live their faith vigorously, with confidence and hope, in a post Christian public square." It's one of the odder reading experiences I've had in the last year - I found myself alternately, paragraph by paragraph, weaving between strong agreemen I'm grateful to have received an Early Reader copy of this book. As a progressive Protestant, I'm perhaps not the target audience of this book, but the blurb sounded interesting: "...an empowering guide to how Christians - and particularly Catholics - can live their faith vigorously, with confidence and hope, in a post Christian public square." It's one of the odder reading experiences I've had in the last year - I found myself alternately, paragraph by paragraph, weaving between strong agreement and strong disagreement. Where Archbishop Chaput is coming from politically is made clear in a passage in the middle of the book: "The White House elected to power in November 2008 campaigned on compelling promises of hope, change, and bringing the nation together. The reality it delivered for eight years was rather different: a brand of leadership that was aggressively secular, ideologically divisive, resistant to compromise, unwilling to accept responsibility for its failures, and generous in spreading blame." (123) If, like me, you think this formulation is wildly off the mark, it's worth reading the book not to see if you agree with it - you won't - but to see how he gets where he goes. The first half of the book is a critique of America's globalized culture. I agree with much of Chaput's concern about consumer society, and appreciate his call to welcome immigrants. But what really surprised me is the degree to which the book is obsessed with human sexuality. I appreciate that Chaput reflects Church dogma, but the book's focus is so intense that it seems to have forgotten there are any deadly sins apart from lust. All non-procreative sex, and any sex outside a heterosexual marriage, is bad; and he draws lines from modern sexual freedoms (including, especially, abortion and gay rights) to virtually every social and political pathology you can name. This analysis is, in my experience, simply and deeply wrong, and the attitude it reflects has caused untold suffering for my LGBTQ friends and for straight women (and for a lot of straight men too, actually). The last chapters were something of a surprise as well. Based on the framing of the book, and the emphatic social critique of the early chapters, I expected a discussion of public policy. There's virtually none. Instead, Chaput delivers a series of homilies to the effect that, in the midst of a fallen world, we are called simply to have our families live faithfully. It's a very 'the personal is political' view, but without any other kind of politics. Here's his ultimate thesis: "What does God ask us to do in a seemingly post-Christian world? The first thing he asks from us is to realize that the words "post-Christian" are a lie, so long as the fire of Christian faith, hope, and love lives in any of us." (242) I can't disagree with those words, but I do wish there were a lot more love and hope in this book, and a lot less dogma and - especially - less fear of human sexuality, in its full spectrum of expression among us, each of us loved so generously by God.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    It's a clear voice and with a finely defined message. And it is definitely written with joy and also an intrepid spirit to provide "help" to the somewhat confused. The Roman Catholics who you will find in church most every Sunday. Those especially. But also for those who attend a couple of times a year or season. Those too. The first half is fully 4 star and a resourced and observable argument re our country's past; also in the base tenets of its formation. It was and held nothing new for my own It's a clear voice and with a finely defined message. And it is definitely written with joy and also an intrepid spirit to provide "help" to the somewhat confused. The Roman Catholics who you will find in church most every Sunday. Those especially. But also for those who attend a couple of times a year or season. Those too. The first half is fully 4 star and a resourced and observable argument re our country's past; also in the base tenets of its formation. It was and held nothing new for my own eyes. The Scripture is especially quoted and further explained through "holy" and utterly faith filled eyes. It was worthy of a Lenten read to encourage remembering enforcement to showing example of the easier things that few do. Like kindness, or joy as example in not just any charity but in the everyday exchanges of life. At work, at home, in group of strangers, whatever. The second half is a stronger than I expected Conservative voice. It reinforces some strong ideals but it doesn't, for me, begin to parse the dichotomies against Nature and all other kinds of up is down and down is up that exists in 2020. Especially within Papal direction which can be absolutely averse to Roman Catholic institution, schooling, hospital and sickness good works in the USA. Others have said it better in their reviews. Read them. For me, this was too much paraphrasing and "nicey-nice" words. As I do believe that those of us with Faith will need to take much stronger action and reaction to the current law and governmental dictate for our supposed American "good values". Because our consciences do not and never will interpret the 10 Commandments as the 10 Suggestions. And the current cultural mode for "good values" (and not at all in just sexual habits) is completely off for what a typical Catholic of just 20 years ago would hold. Like for littering, speech tones, respect for others- all kinds of manners or exchange mores. How "love" is held for other. I thought it would be a good Lenten read. It was- but also for so many Catholic in the USA, it doesn't half answer some pivotal questions we ask ourselves daily. Especially upon where we see the focus being set for most involvements within our own parishes. Way, way too much focus on the dwindling young and not enough on political action for living a life within our own country that doesn't infringe upon and in some cases reverse the very core of our practice and belief system. So I disagree somewhat with Chaput in method "tone". Praying, love, faith is not enough. He goes down the road to a truer definition of charity. And his spirit is welcome encompassing. Kudos for that. But being persecuted was not and never was an "end" in itself. Jesus never enabled. Never.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    I didn’t give this book a high rating and I expected to do so. Here’s what you need to know about me: (1) I love books on spirituality and (2) I hate to read political text. I became a Catholic last year so I’m fascinated with books about Catholicism. I anticipated that this book would be heavy on the “living the Catholic faith” and light on the “post-Christian world.” Wrong. The author is taking wild swings at all the usual bugaboos in our world. “Seems to me I’ve heard this song before.” I’d e I didn’t give this book a high rating and I expected to do so. Here’s what you need to know about me: (1) I love books on spirituality and (2) I hate to read political text. I became a Catholic last year so I’m fascinated with books about Catholicism. I anticipated that this book would be heavy on the “living the Catholic faith” and light on the “post-Christian world.” Wrong. The author is taking wild swings at all the usual bugaboos in our world. “Seems to me I’ve heard this song before.” I’d expected more...well, faith. I’d love to hear from you if you liked this book. Maybe I missed something.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Raborg

    A great book detailing the difficult mission of Christians living in America. Christians have lost their influence on the culture to a great degree. It will take seriously living a Christian and countercultural life in order to help turn this trend around. Every American Christian ought to read this book, which is quite easy to read yet filled with apt allusions drawn from 2000 years of Western culture and from Scripture.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pop

    It took me awhile to read but every minute worth it. This will have to be an annual read so I can compare it’s message to 2020. It was written in the mist of the 2016 political season in the US, and I see little change, maybe for worse especially in the US, in 2020. If you are Catholic or believe in God, Jewish or otherwise, this is a must read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stef

    Learned a lot esp. from the first half of the book which covered history and explained how we got to where we are in our culture -- the anti-Catholic, anti-Christian sentiment that pervades much of society (US-centric, but can apply to many parts of the world as well). The next half isn't as helpful in that there was little in the way of real, concrete suggestions we could implement, though I would hazard a guess that many who read this book already have an idea of what to do and/or they're alre Learned a lot esp. from the first half of the book which covered history and explained how we got to where we are in our culture -- the anti-Catholic, anti-Christian sentiment that pervades much of society (US-centric, but can apply to many parts of the world as well). The next half isn't as helpful in that there was little in the way of real, concrete suggestions we could implement, though I would hazard a guess that many who read this book already have an idea of what to do and/or they're already doing it. In that respect Out of the Ashes was more helpful. The Benedict Option also covers some of the history Abp. Chaput does though I much prefer Abp. Chaput's as it's more thorough and probing. Interesting that all of these men's books didn't touch much on Mary, which Carrie Gress' The Marian Option does. They're like pieces of a puzzle. I'm reading Silence (Card. Sarah) next and I bet it adds yet another piece.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christine Bengle

    It took me several months to read this book. I kept putting it aside maybe because I was not ready to hear the message. That I have no control over other people's choices of actions but I can change the world by prayer and pondering and God directed living and loving. I had read most of the book from a library book so I couldn't highlight but I did purchase kindle version now so I will hopefully re-read at some point to remind myself not to complain but to live my life with hope and purpose. It took me several months to read this book. I kept putting it aside maybe because I was not ready to hear the message. That I have no control over other people's choices of actions but I can change the world by prayer and pondering and God directed living and loving. I had read most of the book from a library book so I couldn't highlight but I did purchase kindle version now so I will hopefully re-read at some point to remind myself not to complain but to live my life with hope and purpose.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Interesting concepts to contemplate. Passage that stands out as very timely. "Today's social media have a massive and almost instantaneous ability to bring the pressure to conform on any selected target. If an end is seen as "good," justifying the means to achieve it is simply a matter of marketing. And this invites a subtle, chronic kind of lying-the editing and massaging of information-to get the results claimed to be needed." Interesting concepts to contemplate. Passage that stands out as very timely. "Today's social media have a massive and almost instantaneous ability to bring the pressure to conform on any selected target. If an end is seen as "good," justifying the means to achieve it is simply a matter of marketing. And this invites a subtle, chronic kind of lying-the editing and massaging of information-to get the results claimed to be needed."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ann Warren

    Beautiful treatise of how we as Catholics are called to live within a culture almost completely counter to everything we hold to be true. Instead of leading to despair, however, it is surprisingly hopeful. We are called to conversion within our own hearts, and to live out our values as a Christian witness in a “post-Christian” world. I especially enjoyed his reflections on virtue and the beatitudes. I really love Chaput’s writings. 💜

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ted

    Although I am not a Roman Catholic, I have long been interested in Charles Chaput. I first learned of him when he was Archbishop in Denver—hearing him on a few radio interviews. I was deeply impressed. Chaput consistently lays out the case for a moral order that, while caricatured as “conservative” in the terms of our politics, is deeply humane, and not tied to the agenda of any political party. He was always articulate, never strident, and came across as thoughtful, caring, and good humored. So Although I am not a Roman Catholic, I have long been interested in Charles Chaput. I first learned of him when he was Archbishop in Denver—hearing him on a few radio interviews. I was deeply impressed. Chaput consistently lays out the case for a moral order that, while caricatured as “conservative” in the terms of our politics, is deeply humane, and not tied to the agenda of any political party. He was always articulate, never strident, and came across as thoughtful, caring, and good humored. So, I was looking forward to reading anything by him. Ultimately, however, I am not among the target audience for this book. “Strangers” is aimed at Catholics. In it, Chaput (who is now the Archbishop of Philadelphia) outlines how things have changed from the decades in which the Catholic Church in America went from being an institution of immigrants to an active player in the American mainstream. American Catholicism as institution probably peaked in the middle of the twentieth century. Since then, cradle Catholics have left the church, or become apathetic. Schools have closed. The liturgy has devolved into a vapid mess. And, of course, the repeated scandals surrounding sexual abuse by clerics and the consequent cover-up by many in the hierarchy have sapped its moral authority. Chaput recognizes all this, and calls upon faithful Catholics to recognize that they are in new territory—an era in which the church will be out of step with the mores of the times, and viewed with ever increasing hostility by an ascendant progressive secularism. In this, Chaput covers ground that is more effectively limned in Rod Dreher’s “The Benedict Option.” Furthermore, Chaput barely scratches the surface in recommending a response on the part of his flock—again, Dreher (a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy) offers a more compelling vision for traditionalist Christians. So, why should a grumpy non-Catholic (and non-Christian) care? I was slightly disappointed—I cared—because I believe our society would be healthier if it had strong and credible voices cautioning against some of the more extravagant innovations of our secular cultural elites. Recent events at the University of California and Middlebury College, among others (including the Claremont Colleges and Yale), amply demonstrate that the cultural left is on the ascendant, that its minions are angry, hostile, and totally uninterested in rational argument. Chaput has been a powerful voice for a religiously informed humanism, which, if supported by a vibrant institution, and backed by an informed and committed laity, would greatly add to the conversation in our culture. This book, however, while it does diagnose the problem, doesn’t seem to illuminate a path for Catholics, as a group, to forge a solution. That is a shame, because even non-Catholics could benefit from an institution informed by the vision of someone like Archbishop Chaput.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    The present complexities explained in a straightforward way Archbishop Chaput has a very good knack for packaging complex realities into ways that are easy to understand. We sense the problems around us, but Chaput elevates the discussion in this book in a rational and organized way. At times he is hard-hitting, yet charitable. He doesn't just detail the challenges facing believers in contemporary times and leave us down; he offers practical guidance and hope. Strangers in a Strange Land had me q The present complexities explained in a straightforward way Archbishop Chaput has a very good knack for packaging complex realities into ways that are easy to understand. We sense the problems around us, but Chaput elevates the discussion in this book in a rational and organized way. At times he is hard-hitting, yet charitable. He doesn't just detail the challenges facing believers in contemporary times and leave us down; he offers practical guidance and hope. Strangers in a Strange Land had me questioning my own ways of dealing with matters of faith that collide with a culture where there is rising anti-Christian sentiment or religious indifference. I recommend this book to anyone concerned about living Catholic in the world today.

  15. 5 out of 5

    David Shane

    A good read - if you follow me on Twitter (@david_shane) I did tweet many snips from it as I went, a sort of endorsement on my part! Chaput at his best at the beginning of the book when he's doing cultural and historical analysis and toward the end when he is emphasizing the importance of beauty... as someone much more comfortable in the land of "argument", in the classical sense, myself, it is good for me to keep in mind that mere argument is quite an ineffective way to move anybody when it com A good read - if you follow me on Twitter (@david_shane) I did tweet many snips from it as I went, a sort of endorsement on my part! Chaput at his best at the beginning of the book when he's doing cultural and historical analysis and toward the end when he is emphasizing the importance of beauty... as someone much more comfortable in the land of "argument", in the classical sense, myself, it is good for me to keep in mind that mere argument is quite an ineffective way to move anybody when it comes to something like religion. (As Pascal said, one must make good men wish Christianity were true, before trying to demonstrate to them that it is.) A bit weaker, I thought, in some of his theological reflections - "spoken just like a Protestant reviewing a book by a Roman Catholic!", you say, well perhaps. I also thought he went out of his way to quote papal comments unnecessarily when his own writing is much more direct and unambiguous! Those looking for a grand plan on how Christians need to reorganize their institutions in light of the coming storm will not find it here - when it comes to "how to respond" the book's primary advice is to remember that, first of all, we are all called to live as saints. Perhaps not the answer we want but probably the best answer that can be given (though there is room for institutional preparation as well, as he would acknowledge.) And there are plenty of good reminders here of how... difficult, in a sense, and strange, a Christian life well-lived really is. We are all tempted daily to live just like the world, plus maybe a little additional friendliness, but the Christian calling is more rigorous that that. Like many good sermons, perhaps those sections of the book don't teach you anything "new", but they do remind you of things you need to be reminded of regularly. (PS - especially appreciated the chapter that quoted extensively from the Letter to Diognetus. No problem we face is ever completely new.) Finally a couple snips to get a sense of his writing: "All of which underscores a simple fact: The surest way to transform a culture is from the inside out. And the surest path to doing so isn't through reasoned debate (too tedious) or violence (too costly) but by colonizing and reshaping the culture's appetite and behaviors." "Love brought our world into being. And love, in its material form as undeserved beauty and unearned gift, disarms the intellect and touches the soul. But for a certain kind of modern thinking, this is not acceptable. Rather, it's the worst sort of insult to our vanity: Beauty makes us conscious of realities and truths we did not create and do not command."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dick

    Catholics should read this. Even if you are not Catholic, it's a thought provoking read. I was especially impressed by the explanation of why relativism (what may be right for you may not be right for me) is doomed to failure. I was also impressed by the argument that socialism leads to a loss of freedom and that government restrictions on religion is a loss of freedom of expression that leads to undesirable ends. The first half of the book paints a hopeless picture of the attack Christianity is Catholics should read this. Even if you are not Catholic, it's a thought provoking read. I was especially impressed by the explanation of why relativism (what may be right for you may not be right for me) is doomed to failure. I was also impressed by the argument that socialism leads to a loss of freedom and that government restrictions on religion is a loss of freedom of expression that leads to undesirable ends. The first half of the book paints a hopeless picture of the attack Christianity is under today, especially in the UIS. The last parts of the book offers hope. If I can live as Chaput inspires me to, I'll be a better person, we'll have a better nation, and a better world.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jerrod Carter

    A standout read for Christians, and in particular Catholic Christians, as they navigate the current western culture.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    Great for a theology paper

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    So much to unpack in this book. I need to sit with it a few days. Before I can even begin to process my thoughts. Good though, so good.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joel Wentz

    Chaput delivers an impassioned critique of American culture, but he does manage to maintain a hopeful and thoughtful tone throughout. The first half of the book builds a case for the religious foundations of American culture, though Chaput is much more well-researched and balanced in his account of this than many conservative thinkers. The second half reads like a series of sermons written to instill hope in Christians who find themselves in this "post-Christian" country. Chaput is unabashedly co Chaput delivers an impassioned critique of American culture, but he does manage to maintain a hopeful and thoughtful tone throughout. The first half of the book builds a case for the religious foundations of American culture, though Chaput is much more well-researched and balanced in his account of this than many conservative thinkers. The second half reads like a series of sermons written to instill hope in Christians who find themselves in this "post-Christian" country. Chaput is unabashedly conservative. He takes a few swings against the Obama administration, so know this if you are a left-leaning reader (like me). However, he is resolutely thoughtful and never careens into emotional diatribes, which I really appreciated. Another mark of his conservative-Catholic-perspective is his extreme focus on sexuality. Most of his concerns with America's moral landscape are connected to human sexuality, with Abortion as a second-place concern. And while Chaput peels apart our ethics in a thoughtful, and historically-rooted way, his (to my mind) undue focus on these issues created some wild blind spots. There are a few words about our sordid past of racial atrocities, for example, which is also a bit off-putting considering the amount of space he delegated to sexual ethics. Ultimately, I found Chaput to be a refreshingly-thoughtful conservative voice calling for more attention to stronger sexual ethics and family foundations. I didn't disagree with much of what he included in his assessment of American culture, but I did find what he skipped over to be frustrating and way-too-narrow. His encouragement to Christians (the 2nd half of the book) was also refreshing in its focus on ecclesiology and communal faith, rather than a political-call-to-arms. So it's a mixed bag, but a helpful window into a thoughtful conservative voice.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Scott Kennedy

    An encouraging book that both identifies the troubling world we Christians find ourselves in, and a positive Christian response to our times. I really appreciate his reminder that if we want to renew the Church, we need to start with reforming our own hearts. Here are a number of highlights for me. While I don't agree with Catholic views on contraception, I really appreciated the point he makes about sex and children. "What happens when a resistance to bearing children takes hold of a culture? Th An encouraging book that both identifies the troubling world we Christians find ourselves in, and a positive Christian response to our times. I really appreciate his reminder that if we want to renew the Church, we need to start with reforming our own hearts. Here are a number of highlights for me. While I don't agree with Catholic views on contraception, I really appreciated the point he makes about sex and children. "What happens when a resistance to bearing children takes hold of a culture? The result is always the same: a slow and subtle unravelling of bonds, an aging of the spirit, a fatigue with the world, and ultimately a loss of purpose and hope. The fertility of sexual intimacy is the seal and ennobler of male-female relationships. It creates the future. It orients the couple, and indirectly the whole community, toward the next generation." Chaput refers to Mitch Pearlstein's book Broken Bonds which highlights the interplay between family dysfunction and societal dysfunction. Family breakdown leads to societal breakdown. The book sounded interesting and needs to go on my to read list. This familial and community breakdown has profound implications for religious freedom. As Chaput puts it, "The disintegration of marriages, families and communities....leads to a less human, less forgiving, and less intimate form of authority filling the empty spaces they leave behind. It's thus perfectly logical that the most acute threats to our religious freedom come not from some Orwellian gang of bullyboys in bad uniforms, but from gender theorists and sex-rights activists (and businesses happy to support them) who push 'liberation' and who are very well suited to life in a brave new world." Regarding truth, Chaput reminds us that none of us is really autonomous or objective. We all rest in some degree on authority. And the authorities we trust matter greatly. He argues that in American life, democracy and capitalism - despite advantages have tended to erode the place of traditional authorities like family and faith while replacing them with new authorities such as public opinion and market forces. This has profound implications. Another interesting insight came in regards to politics and truth. Here Chaput quotes Josef Pieper who argues that the abuse of political power is fundamentally connected with the 'sophistic abuse of the word'. Pieper sees the degradation of people and violence against human beings has its beginnings when the word loses its dignity. We see this in our current age. We use language to disguise truth. We speak of abortion rights or pro-choice to hide the ugliness of reality. Chaput recognises the temptation to become angry or apathetic. But neither of these reactions to our situation remember that Jesus Christ is Lord. Both forget that he rules and is ultimately victorious. Finally I appreciated his point about the importance of institutions for renewal. Let me quote an extended passage:- We need to renew our minds with the Gospel (Rom 12:2), and we need places and moments in our lives to help us achieve that renewal. Places do exist where the world's influence is diminished, where we can rest before returning to the mission. Practically speaking, this means working to renew our parishes, schools, and the small communities of which we're a part. It means making sure that, whatever schools they attend, our children learn to live and think as Catholics. An Eastern Orthodox writer describes this as creating 'countercultural places [that] we make for ourselves, together.' This is vital for handing on the faith to our children. He continues: 'If we do not form our consciences and the consciences of our children to be distinctly Christian and distinctly countercultural, even if that means some degree of intentional separation from the mainstream, we are not going to survive... The primary focus of orthodox [i.e. faithful] Christians in America should be cultural - or rather, countercultural - building the institutions and habits that will carry the faith and the faithful forward through the next Dark Age.' "

  22. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    I really enjoyed Chaput's book. I thought it was very well written and his theology was very interesting and compelling. His theory is that Western Society as a whole is on the decline due to the systematic silencing and elimination of morals and God. Our democratic government has stepped up to replace God in our lives, and we have been very passive and complicit in this transformation of respect and power. Why? Chaput basically argues that we have allowed this because we are selfish and can't s I really enjoyed Chaput's book. I thought it was very well written and his theology was very interesting and compelling. His theory is that Western Society as a whole is on the decline due to the systematic silencing and elimination of morals and God. Our democratic government has stepped up to replace God in our lives, and we have been very passive and complicit in this transformation of respect and power. Why? Chaput basically argues that we have allowed this because we are selfish and can't stand to think that we are not good enough. The government supports the individual as more valuable than the whole. No one's opinions are more important than another's . . . however this becomes a hypocritical idea, because the opinions of some are manipulated by the media to be inherently evil, and taking away the rights of others (gay rights, pro-life, etc.). As these basic moral beliefs fall away, because of the separation between church and state, people tend to pursue more superficial and unfulfilling pursuits such as material goods, concerts and drugs. However, we remain unfulfilled. People want to appear to be good, without actually holding themselves accountable for being good. The solution to the ills of our society? Remain steadfast in your own faith. "Be the light you wish to see in the world," if you will. Raise your children in the church and never compromise on the teachings of your faith. In Chaput's words, being a Christian will absolutely make you stand out in a way that induces ridicule from the mainstream culture. But, he argues that this has always been the case with Christians throughout history. We will receive our rewards in the next life while other's receive their rewards in this life. This also includes being an active and responsible citizen; voting and participating in politics as they relate to our faith. Which can be very, VERY hard to do with the way our media and politicians are. It's all very interesting his take on the political system, and his warnings about it as it continues to grow more powerful and more influential in people's lives. While I may not swing in an as extreme way as Chaput, I think his point is very important. Without a higher power to answer to, we suddenly remove the moral barriers that keep us striving for goodness. Of course, there are always exceptions to this, but largely I believe this to be true. This is obviously a book heavy on religion and faith - written by the Archbishop of Philadelphia. I think it will appeal to people who are open to religion and faith. If you are heavy handed on your belief that the church is evil and has no place in society, then you will not like this book and have nothing nice to say. I think it was great, and I look forward to reading Chaput's other books. Faith is important in my life.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Luke Merrick

    I read a blog post from Firstthings.com where I remember reading about this book (Strangers in a strange land) I ordered it on amazon and read it within the month, and what a phenomenal read it turned out to be! Charles J. Chaput has a firm grounding of reality and isn't afraid to speak the truth in a post-truth climate. He is able to meld politics with religion and history with contemporary cultural issues all at the same time and yet still come out on the other side all in one piece. I especia I read a blog post from Firstthings.com where I remember reading about this book (Strangers in a strange land) I ordered it on amazon and read it within the month, and what a phenomenal read it turned out to be! Charles J. Chaput has a firm grounding of reality and isn't afraid to speak the truth in a post-truth climate. He is able to meld politics with religion and history with contemporary cultural issues all at the same time and yet still come out on the other side all in one piece. I especially enjoyed chapter 6 titled “Nothing but the truth”, where Chaput masterfully analyses the current dilemma of the United States; a democracy once bridled by religion, now guided by ambivalent individuals. These individuals are the demographic of our contemporary democracy which as Plato notes in the Republic have and are becoming the “Mob” in which the mob mentality rules. The ramifications of this (unstable democracy) are many: The breakdown of the family unit, fluid sexual identity, and ultimately moral relativism. The paradox is that everybody holds their own truths to be true and does not want to encroach on anybody else truth, and so we seek to fit in with what the majority believes and says to be true, which as noted in the book is heavily influenced by the media. All this and much more is delineated upon and then examined within the light of Christianity. All in all, the book was an intriguing read that followed after a conversation, darting to the left and right but holding its integrity. I have been repeatedly impressed by catholic authors; myself, being of protestant heritage have sensed a lacking in modern evangelical Christianity for rich truth. This book is no exception. I look forward to reading more from Charles J. Chaput in the future.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Bethke

    This is a brilliant book. I was reminded of something said by the great social activist Dorthy Day: “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed so easily.” I feel that way about this book. Yes, it is religious. It has a religious foundation and viewpoint. But it’s assessments are so keen and spot-on that I’m disappointed that people may skip over it because it’s a religious book. Archbishop Chaput did a fantastic job in his research and stating his positions. Even if you don’t agree with This is a brilliant book. I was reminded of something said by the great social activist Dorthy Day: “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed so easily.” I feel that way about this book. Yes, it is religious. It has a religious foundation and viewpoint. But it’s assessments are so keen and spot-on that I’m disappointed that people may skip over it because it’s a religious book. Archbishop Chaput did a fantastic job in his research and stating his positions. Even if you don’t agree with the answers, I feel he does a great job of verbalizing the problems. "Modern man doesn't want to be saved. He wants to be affirmed." But if you are a catholic and feel an uneasy malaise in the social sphere, I can’t recommend this book enough. As for cons, I’d say that some of the history lessons in the beginning chapters and the Beatitudes section towards the end dragged a bit. Those would make me want to lower it to four stars, but the solid content is great enough to bump it back up to a 5/5. I’ll include a quick quote to end this review on: “Instead of helping the poor, we go shopping. Instead of spending meaningful time with our families and friends, we look for videos on the Internet. We cocoon ourselves in a web of narcotics, from entertainment to self-help gurus to chemicals. We wrap ourselves in cheap comforts and empty slogans, and because there are never enough of them, we constantly look for more. We enjoy getting angry about problems that we can’t solve, and we overlook the child who wants us to watch her dance, or the woman on the street corner asking for food.”

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jaime K

    This is a great book that points out the post-Christian society of the United States, and how Christians, particularly Catholics, should approach it. We need to nourish the good in the country and pass on the faith in a compelling way. We must be bolder and more loving in Catholic witness. Bishop Barron mentions the tyrannical logic of democracy, which is quite interesting. He points out the weaknesses and strengths of democracy, and how “facts” thus change. He also discusses issues with trying to This is a great book that points out the post-Christian society of the United States, and how Christians, particularly Catholics, should approach it. We need to nourish the good in the country and pass on the faith in a compelling way. We must be bolder and more loving in Catholic witness. Bishop Barron mentions the tyrannical logic of democracy, which is quite interesting. He points out the weaknesses and strengths of democracy, and how “facts” thus change. He also discusses issues with trying to fit in the mainstream. Despite issues, we have to hope, even if we aren’t optimistic that things’ll naturally turn out for the better. We still shouldn’t worry. We have the Good News and can share Jesus with others. But we can’t ignore the fact that comfort, pragmatism, and desire have taken over convictions. Reason (science) discredits reason and free quill. So we have to work harder than ever before to animate faith with love. Bishop Barron discusses the Catholic role in American history, which is steeped in moral and Enlightened elements. Our roots are both traditional and diverse; moral ideals and behaviors were required for American democracy to work...but many saw its downfall in self-interest. The history is quite interesting. And I didn’t know that the Ivy League schools were initially Protestant institutions. But now, American life is ordered away from the Commandments. Bishop Barron keeps circling back to family relationships and life, and how they affect religious freedom. The end is a beautiful reminder as to what it means to be human; a sobering reminder of the reality of the devil; and an overall reminder of what it means to love.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    From the Amazon description: "A vivid critique of American life today and a guide to how Christians―and particularly Catholics--can live their faith vigorously, and even with hope, in a post-Christian public square. From Charles J. Chaput, author of Living the Catholic Faith and Render unto Caesar comes Strangers in a Strange Land, a fresh, urgent, and ultimately hopeful treatise on the state of Catholicism and Christianity in the United States. America today is different in kind, not just in deg From the Amazon description: "A vivid critique of American life today and a guide to how Christians―and particularly Catholics--can live their faith vigorously, and even with hope, in a post-Christian public square. From Charles J. Chaput, author of Living the Catholic Faith and Render unto Caesar comes Strangers in a Strange Land, a fresh, urgent, and ultimately hopeful treatise on the state of Catholicism and Christianity in the United States. America today is different in kind, not just in degree, from the past. And this new reality is unlikely to be reversed. The reasons include, but aren't limited to, economic changes that widen the gulf between rich and poor; problems in the content and execution of the education system; the decline of traditional religious belief among young people; the shift from organized religion among adults to unbelief or individualized spiritualities; changes in legal theory and erosion in respect for civil and natural law; significant demographic shifts; profound new patterns in sexual behavior and identity; the growth of federal power and its disregard for religious rights; the growing isolation and elitism of the leadership classes; and the decline of a sustaining sense of family and community." The author is a Native American, a Franciscan friar, and the 9th Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia. Recently retired, his book is extremely insightful into the roots of the current sociological problems in America and provides an equally insightful and ultimately hopeful solution.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Richard de Villiers

    This book is going to be and easier read for the religious or the religiously inclined. For that audience however, particularly those that are Catholic, this is a good to great book. Least convincing or better stated, original, is Chaput's survey of the current state of moral order in America. Where Chaput hits his stride is when he challenges his readers by reminding them what it means to be a Catholic. He takes a different tack than Rob Dreher on how to face up to the challenge of facing a soc This book is going to be and easier read for the religious or the religiously inclined. For that audience however, particularly those that are Catholic, this is a good to great book. Least convincing or better stated, original, is Chaput's survey of the current state of moral order in America. Where Chaput hits his stride is when he challenges his readers by reminding them what it means to be a Catholic. He takes a different tack than Rob Dreher on how to face up to the challenge of facing a society increasingly hostile to people of faith. Chaput notes that as increasingly difficult as things are that they pale in comparison to the early Christians. He does not see retreating into enclaves as realistic option. This book is one of the few where veering off topic works. The book takes an unexpected turn. Where one would expect policy prescriptions Chaput gets down to the personal level and speaks of what it means to live as a Christian. Not only is this suprising; it is in fact inspiring. Then Chaput drifts further off course and touches on beauty and art. He is well read and versed. His ruminations are entertaining and a delight to read. It is a no brainer to recommend this to any lapsed but sympathetic Catholic and those that are still practicing. Those that feel differently may have a hard time getting through the first half which is a shame because the second half is something that probably everyone can appreciate.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joel Cigan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I felt this was a really well-written and pleasant book to read on the topic of faith by the archbishop of Philadelphia. However, I enjoyed the second half of the book more than I enjoyed the first half which discussed more or less the religious landscape as it relates to politics and history. The second half was more a “rule book” if you will for Catholic-Christians on how to lead a harmonious life in God’s image - for the ultimate goal of reaching salvation in Heaven. Many people, including mys I felt this was a really well-written and pleasant book to read on the topic of faith by the archbishop of Philadelphia. However, I enjoyed the second half of the book more than I enjoyed the first half which discussed more or less the religious landscape as it relates to politics and history. The second half was more a “rule book” if you will for Catholic-Christians on how to lead a harmonious life in God’s image - for the ultimate goal of reaching salvation in Heaven. Many people, including myself, will begin to question our own actions or thoughts based on what the archbishop presents in the latter half. One of the ideas or rules that I disagreed with involved the sacrament of marriage, which to many is a “rite of passage” that brings forward progress not only to ourselves but the church. What if we don’t find someone 100% compatible with us, should we marry because it’s the right time and conforms to societal rules? Yet another thought presented was on “cowardly peace” and how many live their tranquil lives with their possessions, comforts and children - in essence, living an almost zealous LIE? The zealousness can manifest itself in reaching a higher place of power at the cost of others - those that could be considered the feeble and weak. These are just some of the ideas presented and it really is a thought provoking book on today’s hostile religious climate.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ben Eastman

    I think of this as a better written Benedict Option. It doesn't have as many practical examples like Dreher's book did, but I think Chaput does a better job of discussing how we've gotten here and why we need to reject the culture and live Fuller Christian lives. Rod Dreher thought that you had to trick people into living more intentionally Christian lives by giving it a fancy name. He actually says in his book The Benedict Option is just Christians living like they should be living, with God an I think of this as a better written Benedict Option. It doesn't have as many practical examples like Dreher's book did, but I think Chaput does a better job of discussing how we've gotten here and why we need to reject the culture and live Fuller Christian lives. Rod Dreher thought that you had to trick people into living more intentionally Christian lives by giving it a fancy name. He actually says in his book The Benedict Option is just Christians living like they should be living, with God and His Church at the center of their lives. The downside of this tactic is that many people didn't bother reading it, they thought they could get the gist by skimming it. Most Catholics who haven't read the book think it's a bad idea because they don't want to retreat from society and give up our ability to evangelize. But that's not at all what the Benedict Option is. The BO just says to pull back from the culture that is so opposed to our way of living and embrace the Christian way of living. Chaput says all of this very clearly and concisely. And he doesn't have the baggage of a fancy name that can be misunderstood. He just talks about the dangers of the Post-Christian culture and urges people to focus their lives around Jesus. My recommendation: read this book first, then the Benedict Option for more practical tips on how to put into practice what Chaput says.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jake Schmitz

    I’m sure this book helped others where they’re at in their faith journey and I’m grateful for that. For some reason, I just didn’t get anything positive out of it: the amount of paraphrasing and quoting pretty much drove me insane. I know it takes a lot to dig deep for an original thought and don’t really even expect that from a book like this, but paragraph after paragraph started to get very tedious and even hard to follow at times due to the quantity of quotes and references. It’s almost like I’m sure this book helped others where they’re at in their faith journey and I’m grateful for that. For some reason, I just didn’t get anything positive out of it: the amount of paraphrasing and quoting pretty much drove me insane. I know it takes a lot to dig deep for an original thought and don’t really even expect that from a book like this, but paragraph after paragraph started to get very tedious and even hard to follow at times due to the quantity of quotes and references. It’s almost like an anthology of modern day problems, apologetics, and Christian teachings. (I suppose some could find some value in this regard). The other main reason I can only give this a 2-star rating is the lack of positive outlook. The term “negative Nancy” comes to mind. I completely agree with how lost contemporary society/culture seems to be, but don’t need to wallow in it. If someone first needs to become aware of these issues, then yes, by all means give it a go and the read might be worth your time. On the other hand, if you’re more interested in solving or doing something about these issues, look elsewhere.

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