Book Jacket from "The Best of Times, The Worst of Times" by John Kotre

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times
Andrew Greeley and American Catholicism, 1950-1975

Nelson-Hall, 1978

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Here is the story of one of the most prolific and controversial figures in the American Catholic Church--the priest, sociologist, and novelist Andrew M. Greeley. The book takes us through his first fifty years and his first sixty--sixty!--books, up to the point where his career as a writer of fiction is about to begin.

"A first-rate biography of an embodied 'life of the spirit' in the contemporary world, which is also, by no means incidentally, a searching perspective on the present dilemmas of American Catholicism."
-- M. Brewster Smith, Former President,
American Psychological Association

"This modest and excellent book gives a concrete overview of the church in conflict--conflict which is at once distrusted and inescapable, imperative and deplored."
-- Joseph A. Tetlow, Reviewer for America

"John Kotre's writing is lucid and forceful, a fitting tribute to the man whose complicated, unusual, vigorous life is evoked in these pages. A lot of people who know and love Andy Greeley will be grateful for this book; but one hopes his critics will find their way to it and will have the courage to face its thrust with an open-minded inquiring spirit."
-- Robert Coles, M.D., Harvard University,
Recipient of the Pulitzer Prize

Table of Contents


1.    A Recurring Dream
2.    The Young of Beverly Hills--and a New Breed
3.    Where are the Catholic Intellectuals?
4.    The Education of Catholic Americans
5.    The Wake of Vatican II
6.    And Then God Died
7.    Sacerdos
8.    The White Ethnics
9.    Politics: Conscience or Coalition
10.  Intimacy
11.  The Yahwistic Myths

Epilogue: Grand Beach, Michigan, 1973-1977


From the Preface

Andrew M. Greeley is an Irish Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago and a sociologist whose Center for the Study of American Pluralism is located at the University of Chicago. But as I write, neither the archdiocese nor the university wants anything to do with him. In 1950 Greeley was hidden in a seminary, four years from ordination, thinking of anything but a career in writing. In 1975, he was beginning his third decade in the priesthood and contemplating his sixtieth book. In the twenty-five intervening years, American Catholicism, and the country itself, had undergone enormous change. This is a record of one very expressive man, living through those times of change, loving them, hating them, taking hope from them, despairing of them, and always--always, in the case of Andrew Greeley--doing battle with them. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times; and somehow for this Irish-Catholic priest--and for American Catholicism along with him--they came in that order.

. . .

I like to think that this book is about the eyes of Andrew Greeley. When Father Greeley speaks to you, his eyes are in constant motion, working hard, dancing nervously about the room, seeking not so much the variety there as that which exists in his own mind. They eyes are on the trail of ironies and paradoxes--primal unities in diversity--that surprise, perplex, confuse, yet capture truth. They pounce on one-liners that offend one person and make another laugh (of a Pentecostal meeting: "The Holy Spirit had bad breath"). Greeley has argued, in his public life, that the metropolis is not an even mass but a patchwork of ethnic color. He has championed the unstable pluralism from which the American political system emerged and shouted out for those parts of the system not being heard. Of schools, of the organizational Catholic Church, of the priesthood he has said that without experimentation in alternative structures they will decay. He believes the unfaithful spouse is one who is monotonous, who fails to explore and surprise, in the marriage bed. He believes that life itself is a preparation for the surprise of death and that God was drunk when he created the universe, so great and colorful is the variegation that exists within it.

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