On the Road to Emmaus

On the Road to Emmaus: The Catholic Dialogue with America and Modernity

GLENN W. OLSEN
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 323
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2852p8
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  • Book Info
    On the Road to Emmaus
    Book Description:

    In distinctive voice and tone, cultural commentator Glenn W. Olsen presents his latest work on the place of Catholicism in American history. Here he clarifies the meaning of American modernity for Catholics and shows the conflicts and tensions confronting the religious person today.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1955-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-16)

    In 2010 i published The Turn to Transcendence: The Role of Religion in the Twenty-First Century.¹ Though this was a large volume, there were many points touched on in it, especially in regard to politics and social thought, that I could not fully develop. Thus I formed the idea of issuing a second volume containing many of my published essays on religion, society, and politics, in which I had considered specific topics more fully than in the first book. I have decided to give this second volume a title that needs some explanation: On the Road to Emmaus: The Catholic...

  5. PART 1. CATHOLIC INCARNATIONAL HUMANISM
    • 1 THE “CATHOLIC MOMENT” AND THE QUESTION OF INCULTURATION
      (pp. 19-50)

      In 1987 the then lutheran, but soon to become Catholic, writer Richard John Neuhaus published a book, The Catholic Moment: The Paradox of the Church in the Postmodern World (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1987), which received considerable discussion. I was asked to write a review article on the book, and by titling this “The Catholic Moment?” with a question mark, suggested that, though I found much useful analysis in the book, I was unpersuaded by its basic argument.¹ Of course under the heading of the theological virtue of hope, all moments are Catholic—that is, open to significant formation...

    • 2 THE INVESTITURE CONTEST
      (pp. 51-71)

      The investiture contest was a struggle over what the respective positions of the royal and priestly powers should be in a Christian society. Although the most visible aspect of this contest was the struggle over lay investiture between Pope Gregory VII (1073–85) and the German emperor Henry IV (1056–1106), the attempt to determine the proper areas of competence and jurisdiction of the various ecclesiastical and civil offices occurred at all levels of society and remained a problem long after the deaths of both great protagonists.

      Especially since the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine (312–37) to Christianity,...

    • 3 LAY SPIRITUALITY AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM
      (pp. 72-80)

      Contemporary christianity, as an expression of the contemporary world, bears some resemblance to a great carnival midway. From all sides barkers urge their goods. “Have you tried Marriage Encounter?” “Come to the Latin Mass this Sunday.” “I didn’t know what Christianity was about until I joined the Charismatics!” “Have you been to the First Church of Agape in the Park?” Whereas in the pre-Vatican II Church people often had relatively stable patterns of spiritual practice, people now often move in and out of new “spiritual experiences” with great rapidity, making of their lives a series of passages.¹

      Although one would,...

    • 4 CHRISTIAN FAITH IN A NEO-PAGAN SOCIETY
      (pp. 81-100)

      I think it was c. s. lewis who somewhere, in response to the lament of a friend over having to live surrounded by pagans, replied to the effect, “That it were so.” Lewis, who liked to describe himself as a converted pagan living among apostate Puritans, meant by his exclamation that some of the pagans had had a regard for the life of the mind, a persistence in self-discipline ordered to truth, goodness, and beauty, and an openness toward the order of nature rarely found in contemporary man. Playing on the ambiguity of the word “pagan,” Lewis meant to indicate...

    • 5 THY KINGDOM COME ON EARTH AS IN HEAVEN The Place of the Family in Creation
      (pp. 101-122)

      The idea of the kingdom or reign of God was variously understood in Judaism and early Christianity. Walter Kasper has argued that Origen pierced through all this variety to see the essential point: the Kingdom is Christ and his message.¹ The kingdom is a name for doing the will of God. It announces where in history salvation and liberation from evil takes place. First, the idea of the coming Kingdom announced Christ. Then, just as he was the first of the new men, Christ was the Kingdom come on earth. Yet, as Paul and later writers such as Gregory of...

  6. PART 2. THE ENCOUNTER WITH AMERICAN POLITICAL CULTURE
    • 6 SEPARATING CHURCH AND STATE
      (pp. 125-144)

      The distinguished Hungarian-American historian John Lukacs recounts the outcome of the poll of Catholic college women he remembers Will Herberg to have reported in the 1950s.¹ They simply were asked whether they thought of themselves first as Americans or as Catholics. Ninety-eight percent of them thought of themselves as American first. The position I would like to advance here is no one’s but my own, for I would be counted with the two percent. Because I am an adult convert to Catholicism I have not directly participated in that deep yearning of the immigrant to be accepted at virtually any...

    • 7 RELIGION, POLITICS, AND AMERICA AT THE MILLENNIUM
      (pp. 145-173)

      In this chapter I would like to reflect on the role of pluralism, especially religious pluralism, in what I take to be the failure of the American experiment in ordered liberty. My argument is that, examined from the vantage point of the turn of the millennium, American claims to exceptionalism and superiority, clustered around the idea of ordered liberty, have proven unjustified. Enough American history has passed to see how the instability, internal incoherence, and inadequacy of the founding American assumptions about God, man, and society daily make the dream of ordered liberty ever more remote. The evidence of profound...

    • 8 AMERICA AS AN ENLIGHTENMENT CULTURE
      (pp. 174-187)

      The united states remains a puzzle to itself and to others. On the one hand, no country, not France itself, is so obviously the offspring of the Enlightenment and the revolutionary ideals of the late eighteenth century. On the other hand, America has not inaptly been described as “a nation with the soul of a church,” and even today one will likely misperceive motives if one forgets how decisive the Calvinist heritage has been in forming American views of the world. Down to the present in the United States such Enlightenment values as individual autonomy, equality, and reason stand alongside...

    • 9 JOHN RAWLS AND THE FLIGHT FROM AUTHORITY: The Quest for Equality as an Exercise in Primitivism
      (pp. 188-210)

      John rawls’ A Theory of Justice has been at the center of discussion of justice in the United States for more than three decades, and has had a not negligible influence elsewhere. The book, along with Rawls’ many second thoughts about its arguments, stands in a dominant stream of political theory, one of the Anglo-Saxon forms of liberalism, which self-consciously develops and refines the theory of the social contract. Rawls gives the contract its most influential contemporary form.¹ The extended discussion of Rawls’ position has led him to modify it at many points, indeed to abandon many of his original...

    • 10 THE QUEST FOR A PUBLIC PHILOSOPHY IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICAN POLITICAL THOUGHT
      (pp. 211-236)

      Though the subject is the United States, the background is France, Alexis de Tocqueville, and the late François Furet, de Tocqueville’s most influential recent interpreter. The one thing Furet thought de Tocqueville had missed in his analysis of The Old Regime and the French Revolution was the Revolution’s dynamic. During the five years from 1789 to 1794, Furet argued, a new political theory or experience of the political came to flourish in France. This held that the traditional conflicting interests of French society were not forever to set the terms of political discourse. A new politics was to be based...

  7. PART 3. THE ENCOUNTER WITH EUROPE, NATIVE AMERICANS, AND MODERNITY
    • 11 UNITY, PLURALITY, AND SUBSIDIARITY IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY CONTEXT
      (pp. 239-253)

      Adebate about the relationship between unity, plurality, and subsidiarity runs through European culture and history. “Unity” indicates the degree to which any culture possesses or forms a consensus and has shared values or a common world view. “Plurality” marks the existence, persistence, or development of subcultures within a culture, views of the world distinct from and not easily assimilable to the preponderant culture. “Subsidiarity” designates a cultural form of the political principle that in any society each human activity should be accomplished at the lowest possible social level compatible with survival and effectiveness: culturally this means the toleration of diverse...

    • 12 THE ETHICS OF CONQUEST: The European Background of Spain’s Mission in the New World
      (pp. 254-270)

      Christopher columbus was no Spaniard, but rather brought to the employ of the Catholic monarchs a specifically Italian experience of the larger world. An avid reader of Marco Polo, who had traveled many of the shipping routes used by Europeans, Columbus, like any Italian merchant, knew the implications of the conquest of the Byzantine Empire by the Ottoman Turks in the mid-fifteenth century.¹ The Italians had been cut off from their customary trade relations, especially to the spices of the East, and were having to either adjust their hopes for future prosperity downward or turn to alternative ways of reconnecting...

  8. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 271-304)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 305-316)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 317-318)