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.
Chaput (A Heart on Fire), Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia, has crafted a thorough response to the 2015 Supreme Court decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, which effectively legalized same-sex marriage. Much as he used directives on insurance and birth control in to argue that Christianity is under attack in the United States, Chaput utilizes Obergefell to mark a continued deterioration of Christian values. His argument is concisely delineated, but Chaput's sincere beliefs can come across as overblown; he includes Obergefell and the HHS mandate in the same list of tragedies as 9/11, the Iraq wars, the 2008 economic meltdown, Syria's civil war, and the predations of Boko Haram. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal receives a scant and oblique mention. Chaput also thoughtfully argues about technology's part in the cultural shift away from community and toward the self, which dovetails neatly with his views on democracy. But his righteous indignation on LGBTQ rights, birth control, and abortion, like his contention that religion is inherent to morality, is arguably contributing to the very "post-Christian" nation he fears. Readers of faith will find much to contemplate in Chaput's well-argued examples of the state of Christian influence on American culture.