R. Scott APPLEBY, Patricia BYRNE, and William L. PORTIER, editors, Creative Fidelity: American Catholic Intellectual Traditions. Original Documents from More than 200 Years of Catholic History. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2004. $50.00 Hardback pp.330 ISBN 15707-5453
Reviewed by Biff ROCHA, University of Dayton, Dayton, OH 45401

Creative Fidelity is part of the nine volume set in American Catholic Identities edited by Christopher J. Kauffman, which seeks to make available to the contemporary student scholarly and seminal documents in the history of American Catholicism. These volumes in the American Catholic Identity series elucidates the American Catholic experience with interwoven themes such as immigration, ideological trends, nativism, anti-Catholicism and social progress resting on the warp and weave of national characteristics of ethnic and cultural pluralism, voluntary association, freedom of speech, religious liberty, and the separation of Church and State.

Creative Fidelity is a collection of primary source texts offering a documentary history of Catholics as they entered American life in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This treasury of primary documents illustrates how Catholics immigrants in the United States entered into the life of the new nation and matured as citizens. They attempted to mark and maintain their own identity while interacted with the growing American Protestant traditions in the social and intellectual realms. In dozens of texts that would be inaccessible if not for this splendid compendium, figures as diverse as Thomas Merton and John Carroll, Orestes Brownson and John Courtney Murray demonstrate Catholic cultural integration into the landscape of American intellectual life.

Following a general introduction by R. Scott Appleby the book opens with its first section, "Intellectual Life." Twelve texts are arranged chronologically beginning with John Ireland's Call to the Intellectual Life in 1889 and continuing up through 1995 with Philip Gleason's "On the Appearance of 'Cultural' Catholicism." Each of the subsequent parts follows this pattern. Section two, "Scholasticism and Thomism" adds works from Isaac Hecker, Thomas Merton and the editor of the revised Baltimore Catechism, Francis J. Connell. Parts three and four deal with different aspects of Catholic education, while section five addresses "Church and State." Francis Patrick Kenrick tackles a difficult issue in his piece "On Slavery" to begin section six entitled "Moral Theology and Social Thought." Section seven draws together works on the Gregorian chant, American film and fiction writing for the collection called "Spirituality and Art." "Theology and Science," section eight, tackles the problems of evolution, eugenics, and psychoanalysis. Sections nine and ten present the before and after of the second Vatican Council. The work then concludes with a nine page index of topics to help readers quickly locate names, issues and places throughout the assorted primary documents. Creative Fidelity is an essential resource for courses on Catholic life and history.


Amazon.com - Continuum - Crossroad - Eerdmans Publishing - Liturgical Press - Orbis Books