First Things magazine has posted this article from the latest issue: When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano: Catholic Culture in America by Joseph Bottum.
This is an insightful look at Catholic culture in America which distances itself from the right extreme and the left extreme in search of an authetic living church culture. A good look at Catholicism from the inside most of which is new to me. But also many insights common to any church culture. Worth the read.
Here are some poignant words on the difference between a chosen tradition and an inherited one. They can never be the same. A chosen tradition is so American and so discontinuous with the history of the church yet the reality in which we live with blessings and curses all its own. Note the "the quick irritated impatience". Ah, does not this afflict also Lutherans?
This quick, irritated impatience seems common in the emerging Catholic culture. You find it in the parishioners of the Polish Dominicans working at Columbia University, and in the conservatives gathered around the political theorist Robert George at Princeton. For that matter, it is present among the graduate students at such places as Notre Dame and Boston College, and among the younger theology professors around the country. The public figures of the new culture—the Catholic lawyers, magazine writers, and think-tank analysts—have it in spades: an intolerance, an exasperation, with everything that preoccupied an entire generation of American Catholics.
For the development of a new Catholicism, this doesn’t look the most-promising start. Rich local cultures may produce great works, but few people in the United States have that kind of cultural wealth anymore. Certainly not many Catholics. The number of Americans who grew up in a profoundly Catholic setting is smaller than it ever has been before—which creates a problem for a new culture. If Catholicism is something elected rather than received, can Catholics achieve what earlier cultures did?
Their children, perhaps, will come from a thick-enough world that they can write the kind of strong Catholic novels, make the kind of strong Catholic art, prior ages knew. But in the meantime, a rebellion against rebellion doesn’t escape the problems of rebellion, and a chosen tradition is never quite the same as an inherited one.