Off the Shelf: John Portmann

March 2, 1010 — John Portmann, associate professor of religious studies, "Catholic Culture in the USA: In and Out of Church." Continuum Publishers.

"Catholic Culture in the USA" explains how theological teachings flow down from the Vatican and influence Americans' decisions about food, marriage, sex, community celebrations and medical care. This study of American Catholicism summarizes a widespread contemporary tendency to adapt traditional spirituality to a world of moral diversity, to hold onto some essential portions of religious experience in an increasingly secular world.

John Portmann defends Catholic dissidents and explores alternative expressions of Catholic devotion. Taking a holistic approach, the author sees cultural change as resulting from interaction among individual rights assertions, grassroots mobilization, scholarly production and legislative innovation.

Finally, the book ties contemporary Catholicism into the broad "I'm spiritual but not religious" trend sweeping through the United States.