Catholic Activism Today: Individual Transformation and the Struggle for Social Justice is an award-winning book, exploring what animates contemporary Catholic civic engagement and helping leaders think through ways to improve efforts at the parish, diocesan and national levels.
When taking a historical look, Catholic civic engagement has changed in significant ways. Today, Catholics who seek to be civically engaged as Catholics do so through what the author calls “discipleship groups,” where they are gathered for spiritual formation and then engage a wide variety of issues as individuals. There are assets and liabilities for these discipleship groups on a variety of levels, from the practical to the magisterial authority of the Church. Understanding these discipleship groups and their impact on the members and their worlds is central to this book.
There are five core values that animate discipleship groups: transformation, Christ-centeredness, community, outreach, and compassion. Transformation includes both individual and social change. Christ-centeredness means putting Jesus at the center of the whole of one’s life. Community–the affective bonds that we might share with family, coworkers, parishioners or other groups–can either facilitate or hinder our efforts to be a leavening in the world. Outreach is about moving from nourishing the group to being in authentic relationship with those beyond our conventional communities. Compassion means being deeply moved by the experiences of another so that one is compelled to act. These five values are at the heart public Catholicism today.
Catholic Activism Today outlines the dilemmas, graces and obstacles individuals and organizations face as they bring their faith to American public life. It is a helpful book for anyone looking to see how religiously-minded people can make a bigger impact on their world. The book is part of the Religion and Social Transformation series at New York University Press. It was enthusiastically received, winning a Catholic Media Award as well as being featured or reviewed in many journals and other outlets.