» » The Good Enough Catholic: A Guide for the Perplexed

Download The Good Enough Catholic: A Guide for the Perplexed fb2

by Paul Wilkes

Download The Good Enough Catholic: A Guide for the Perplexed fb2
Author: Paul Wilkes
ISBN: 0345409620
Language: English
Pages: 384 pages
Category: Catholicism
Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (October 21, 1997)
Rating: 4.2
Formats: lit mbr txt azw
FB2 size: 1469 kb | EPUB size: 1704 kb | DJVU size: 1536 kb
Sub: Bibles

Many Catholics face a dilemma: how can one be faithful to traditions, yet remain open to new discoveries, both about yourself and Catholicism?In The Good Enough Catholic, Paul Wilkes plumbs the hunger in Catholic souls for a relationship with God and a spiritual life, and boldly confronts the controversial issue of Church authority. After each chapter, there is an invitation to put into practice what has been explored through a rich mixture of doctrine, history, current thinking, and the personal experiences of "good enough" Catholics across America. With this book, Wilkes beckons us to look to the essence of our religion for the guidance and strength to live lives filled with spiritual transcendence.
Comments (7)
This prolific writer has a real gift for helping you to attain a more complete spiritual life. Unlike the many books that suggest WHAT to do, Wilkes tells you HOW you can do it. I have found this true in seven of his books so far; it's like having your own personal, very knowledgeable mentor carefully guiding you with very understandable personal experiences.
Paul Wilkes' description of the "Good Enough Catholic" could be a description of the kind of person Jesus Christ would have embraced with Love ...and most likely does.
Gave it as a gift to a dear friend... he loved it! It is ok to stray for your reasons...
Dancing Lion
Thought provoking, well written and easily understood. A must read for every Catholic whether conservative or liberal, new or old Church.
Mr. Wilkes has a somewhat engaging way of writing, in my opinion, and enough good stuff in the book to make it DANGEROUS. Because some of what he says is valid, it would appear to the uneducated reader that he is correct on all of it, but that is FAR from the TRUTH! He advocates being a dissenting Catholic and works his best to convince the reader that it's fine to make one's own decision on abortion, birth control, etc.

Any follower of Christ continues to seek to better him or herself and wants to reflect the light of Christ as best s/he is able at that point in his or her journey. To think that being a "Good Enough Catholic" is good enough is to be sadly and dangerously misled.
This book written in 1996 is by a Catholic layman, journalist and religious writer who appears to be in his late forties. His intent is to describe, especially for the lukewarm or fallen away Catholic, how one can be "good enough" to consider and call oneself a Catholic despite both personal faults and misgivings/disagreements regarding church teaching. Wilkes developed this notion from his reading of Bruno Bettelheim's writing about good enough parenting. The notion is that you aim for excellence, do your best, accept your limitations, but most of all don't exclude yourself or become discouraged because perfection isn't available - either in yourself or the church generally.
This strikes me as a valid and useful approach to get people alienated from the church to rethink the value of participating in organized religious life (which is by far the strongest case Wilkes makes). Unfortunately, however it becomes the rationale for a generally liberal and tolerant (some would say loose or even aberrant) approach to Catholicism. Wilkes is anxious to dispel what older Catholics would certainly take as church teaching - that you can't feel free to pick and choose what you like from official church teaching and practice and still consider yourself a Catholic in good standing. Wilkes warns against a too easy "cafeteria" Catholicism, urging serious consideration of official teaching, but the ultimate authority is one's own conscience. He doesn't seem to consider the traditional Catholic notion of obedience and assent in the face of doubt. Perhaps this is what leads him to suggest that one can dissent on a broad range of controversial issues (as he evidently does) and still consider oneself a faithful Catholic. He also neglects the distinction between private disagreement and open challenge that can be disloyal and disruptive depending on the circumstances. That distinction is important to any organization, religious or secular.
The risk of such an approach is revealed by much of his discussion of these controversial issues. Though Wilkes is generally well informed, especially for a layperson, he is no scholar or theologian. His assessment of these issues is uneven, somewhat cursory, and sometimes contains factual misinformation. No one should rely on his analysis for deciding these matters. Yet a reader could easily get the impression that Wilkes has come to his own positions with little more than he presents in this book. Such is the danger that the Catholic Church has tried to avoid (in contrast to Protestant Christianity) by maintaining a strong sense of the teaching authority of the church.
There is no question that such authority has eroded in fact within the Catholic Church. The hierarchy bears much of the blame by exercising that authority too often in an arrogant manner in which it fails to follow consultative processes that have strong historical precedent and theological support, and are unquestionably appropriate in the modern post Vatican II environment. But the individualism of popular culture is also to blame because it distrusts authority in principle, lacks discipline, and eschews loyalty and commitment to institutions of all kinds. There is a vicious circle in which the Vatican tries to shore up its teaching authority against the onslaught of relativism and skepticism, and its efforts only provoke greater distrust and resistance. We end up with polarization.
Wilkes tries to bridge this divide by finding common ground. But he does it in a way so lacking in rigor that one suspects he neither dissuades the disaffected from rebellion or indifference nor abates the fear of the hierarchy and traditionalists that Catholic identity will continue in its free fall by being picked to death by dissenters. Still, I found the book a good reminder of the many values of Catholicism even for those who may find themselves alienated and half-hearted. But a true renewal that will both attract the straying and satisfy the committed will await a more dynamic and convincing vision than that presented by Wilkes.
Paul Wilkes' "The Good Enough Catholic" is like taking the fundamental theology course in the seminary. The difference here is that Wilkes has a popular writing style that makes the theology accessible to many people. The main point Wilkes makes is that many Catholics,who want to be loyal to their church, but also find some practices and teachings troubling, are trying to find some ways to be "good enough," even though they may not understand or are able to be "perfect" in their practice. The idea of being "good enough" is that sometimes many people have to settle for something that seems less than the ideal of what one should be as a Catholic.
Wilkes treats the fundamental topic in Catholic theology, scriptures, church, sacraments, marriage, priesthood, the papacy, etc. by attempting to find ground somewhere between the extreme positions of absolute loyalty and an attitude of skepticism. He finds much in the Catholic tradition that speaks well of being Catholic. He refers to the moral teachings of the church as the most comprehensive and systemitized than any other religion. He also demonstrates that throughout the church's history there have been different emphases and nuances in how and what the church has taught.
Wilkes' book is positive and honest. He includes quotations from lay people and clergy throughout using opinions that spread the gamut of Catholic thought. He summarizes very clearly some complicated history. He presents some failures of the church along side great successes, showing how the institution of the church can be guided by the Holy Spirit as well as be mislead by the popular culture of the time.
I believe this book to be balanced in its approach. It can be applied easily to RCIA programs as well as other adult education in the church.