The Catholic Studies Reader

The Catholic Studies Reader

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 468
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  • Book Info
    The Catholic Studies Reader
    Book Description:

    The Catholic Studies Reader is a rare book in an emerging field that has neither a documented history nor a consensus as to what should be a normative methodology. Dividing this volume into five interrelated themes central to the practice and theory of Catholic Studies-Sources and Contexts, Traditions and Methods, Pedagogy and Practice, Ethnicity, Race, and Catholic Studies, and The Catholic Imagination-the editors provide readers with the opportunity to understand the great diversity within this area of study. Readers will find informative essays on the Catholic intellectual tradition and Catholic social teaching, as well as reflections on the arts and literature. This provocative and enriching collection is valuable not only for scholars but also for lay and religious Catholics working in Catholic education in universities, high schools, and parish schools.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4924-4
    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: The Need for Catholic Studies
    (pp. 1-16)

    Margaret McGuinness was a graduate student at Union Theological Seminary (New York) when Father James J. Hennesey’sA History of the Roman Catholic Community in the United Stateswas published in 1981, even as James Fisher was studying American cultural history down the New Jersey Turnpike at Rutgers. Although other scholars, including Notre Dame’s Philip Gleason and Jay Dolan, were also writing about American Catholicism at this time, McGuinness’s church history classes were paying very little attention to their work, focusing primarily on the U.S. Protestant experience. Hennesey’s book convinced her that American Catholicism was a vital part of the...

    • 1 “The Story Is What Saves Us”: American Catholic Memoirs
      (pp. 19-42)

      Autobiographical works such as Augustine’sConfessionsare the very foundation of Catholic Studies.¹ Even a cursory look at the footnotes in the comprehensive histories of American Catholicism published since the 1950s reveals how deeply our understanding of the evolution of Catholic life in North America is grounded inlife-writings, an elastic term for personal narratives presented in a variety of genres and formats, from travel narratives and traditional memoirs to autobiographical fiction and specialized hybrids (conversion and departure narratives, “Why I am a Catholic” books, and so on). Life-writings are pervasive and various, yet they are frequently neglected as a...

    • 2 The Catholic Intellectual Tradition: A Classification and a Calling
      (pp. 43-67)

      “Just as we reject the principle of divorcing faith and works, so we reject the principle and the practice of divorcing the life of faith and the life of study,” wrote Father Leo Ward of the University of Notre Dame in 1961.¹ Describing the ideal for the Catholic school, Ward’s rejection invites reflection on Catholic intellectual life. However, this comment, which might galvanize Catholic professors who perceive themselves as exemplars of the ideal, might also solicit quite a different reaction from those outside the professionally academic arena. The public perception of Catholicism does not always incline toward a scholastic tradition....

    • 3 Passing on the Faith: Training the Next Generation of American Practicing Catholics
      (pp. 68-91)

      How to pass on “the faith”? We certainly are not the first generation—and I hope not the last—to ask this question. One can find evidence of such concerns, sometimes oblique, other times explicit, in Paul’s letters, among the earliest extant Christian writings. A host of difficult questions came early to those communities that the first apostles founded. What does it mean to believe in the name of Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified, the cruelest, the most despised, the most shocking form of empire-orchestrated execution? What does it mean to believe in the one whose tomb was...

    • 4 The (Catholic) Politics of Catholic Studies
      (pp. 92-110)

      Catholic Studies, the interdisciplinary study of Catholicism, seems a simple idea, and a useful one. Yet support for reflective intelligence about Catholicism has proven controversial in the Church and in the academy, even in academies sponsored by the Church. This volume describes the emergence of interest in Catholic Studies, including initiatives to establish Catholic Studies centers and academic programs in Catholic colleges and universities. These impressive projects, however, have yet to realize their potential or meet the very real need for institutional support for research and teaching on matters related to Catholicism. Only a limited number of Catholics are convinced...

    • 5 Catholic Studies and Religious Studies: Reflections on the Concept of Tradition
      (pp. 113-128)

      Although most of the chairs and programs established in Catholic Studies in recent years have been established in Catholic colleges and universities, an increasing number are appearing in non-Catholic institutions both private and public. Some of the latter have been established as interdisciplinary chairs or programs without any special relationship to religious studies; others, such as the new chairs at Hofstra and UC Santa Barbara, are located in departments of religious studies alongside endowed chairs in other religious traditions, such as Tibetan Buddhist Studies, Sikh Studies, and Jewish Studies. At UCSB, where the Department of Religious Studies has been organized...

    • 6 A Definition of Catholic: Toward a Cosmopolitan Vision
      (pp. 129-147)

      Catholic Studies emerges in the North American context precisely at a time when the boundaries for identifying “Catholic” are contested. Under conditions of globalization when persons shift in and out of a variety of local and transnational affiliations, the identifier is not as clear as perhaps it once was. In earlier periods, in so-called Catholic countries, the category “Catholic” encompassed the whole of society and the definition was bound up with national and ethnic identities. In non-Catholic Christian contexts, such as in the United States, where identity was constructed “over-against” the dominant ethos, the category “Catholic” was identifiable in contrast...

    • 7 Method and Conversion in Catholic Studies
      (pp. 148-168)

      A former editor of the prestigious theological journalTheological Studiesis reported to have remarked that Bernard Lonergan’s work was the most frequently cited in that journal. Whether accurate or not, as Lonergan’s former student in Rome in the 1960s, and as someone who owes him an immense debt of gratitude, I can testify to the great explanatory power of his work. It is no wonder that the University of Toronto Press is now publishing the many volumes of hisCollected Works. In this essay I employ Lonergan’s work to delineate the methodological issues emerging in the relatively new field...

    • 8 Catholic Studies in the Spirit of “Do Whatever He Tells You”
      (pp. 171-192)

      During a celebration of the University of Dayton’s sesquicentennial in the year 2000, the singer-songwriter alumnus who headed the university’s Center for Social Concern performed a song he had written for the occasion, “Do Whatever He Tells You.” At the reception after the celebration, a colleague still fairly new to the university, personally nonreligious but with an evident affinity for the university’s mission and commitments, commented that he thought the song was a little odd—hadn’t something like “do whatever he tells you” been written over the gates of Soviet labor camps? My first response to the remark, phrased more...

    • 9 Afflicting the Comfortable: The Role of Catholic Social Teaching in Catholic Studies Programs
      (pp. 193-210)

      Faculty members involved in Catholic Studies programs at Catholic colleges and universities throughout the United States (and their deans, provosts, and presidents) should pay careful attention to a recent report released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life detailing the religious landscape of the modern United States. Based on interviews with 35,000 Americans over the age of eighteen, the study found that many of us move from one religion to another with relative ease. More than a quarter of Americans, for instance, no longer practice the religion in which they were raised and have either joined another denomination...

    • 10 Teaching About Women, Gender, and American Catholicism
      (pp. 211-234)

      On the first day of my “Women and American Catholicism” class one year, a student announced that she had enrolled in the course simply out of curiosity: “I am dying to know,” she said, “how a course on Women and Catholicism can last any longer than two weeks.” Given women’s exclusion from leadership structures within the Roman Catholic Church, she wondered, what could we possibly find to talk about for an entire semester? These and other similar comments reflect the widespread ambivalence that many contemporary young women have about their membership (or in some cases, their former membership) in a...

    • 11 Visual Literacy and Catholic Studies
      (pp. 235-256)

      In the late sixth century, Pope Gregory the Great wrote one of his bishops a letter on the question of iconoclasm that has reverberated down almost to the present day, frequently quoted to justify the use of images in Christian worship and later cited by scholars to explain the role of pictures in the Middle Ages. Gregory argued,

      To adore a picture is one thing, but to learn through the story of a picture what is to be adored is another. For what writing presents to readers, this a picture presents to the unlearned who behold, since in it even...

    • 12 We Have Been Believers: Black Catholic Studies
      (pp. 259-281)

      On a typical sizzling New Orleans afternoon, C. Vanessa White and her classmates were socializing just minutes before their first class in Introduction to Black Theology at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University. Amid the chatter, in stomped an unkempt black man screaming, “Somebody stole all my stuff!”¹ He turned, slammed the door, and repeated, “Somebody stole all my stuff.” Angrily he searched the faces of the class and again asserted, “Somebody stole all my stuff!” Completely thrown off guard and frightened, White remembers thinking, “Does he think I took his stuff?” “What stuff is he talking...

    • 13 Asian American Catholic Experience and Catholic Studies
      (pp. 282-308)

      A standard narrative of American religious history has relied on the Puritan sense of a common purpose. John Winthrop’s famous “City on a Hill” speech to the Pilgrims is emblematic of this. This narrative of election and purpose has shaped the way other religions have been measured. But in doing so it has neglected the voice of religious dissenters and the significance of racial diversity within the ranks of American Christians. Likewise, social science and historical studies of immigrants and refugees tend to gloss over religious affiliation and focus mainly on adaptation or assimilation processes into American culture. Both religious...

    • 14 Working Toward an Inclusive Narrative: A Call for Interdisciplinarity and Ethnographic Reflexivity in Catholic Studies
      (pp. 309-328)

      I am a non-Catholic anthropologist of religion who, until recently, has worked primarily within Mexican American Catholic communities in the Southwest, West, and Midwest. In this essay, I raise some questions and concerns that have come up for me as an ethnographer who focuses on lived Christianities in the United States. I continue to work with Mexican American Catholics and have broadened out my scope of inquiry to include Anglo American Catholics and Protestants of a variety of traditions, and I am convinced that the field of Catholic Studies can learn much from histories and ethnographies of Spanish-speaking U.S. Catholics....

    • 15 Seeing Catholicly: Poetry and the Catholic Imagination
      (pp. 331-351)

      In her poem “The Robin’s My Criterion for Tune,” Emily Dickinson attempts to describe the peculiar vision that powers her imagination and informs her poetry. With typical deftness, she states simply, “I see—New Englandly.” Anyone who has read even a few of Dickinson’s poems—each sparse and spare, yet offering up food for the soul even the angels might savor—recognizes exactly what she means by this. Dickinson’s geographic home, an accident of her birth, has located her in the universe, given her a vantage point from which to see the world and a language to engage it. The...

    • 16 Cultural Studies Between Heaven and Earth: Beyond the Puritan Pedagogy of The Scarlet Letter
      (pp. 352-371)

      When the North American Studies section of the American Academy of Religion asked me to respond, in November 2005, to Robert A. Orsi’s bookBetween Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars Who Study Them, I cast about for a way of revealing, in concentrated but also prismatic form, what is at issue in Orsi’s work for American Studies at large.¹ Surely, Orsi has succeeded in mainstreaming Italian American social history, ethnicizing American Catholic historiography, and challenging the Protestant-centeredness of U.S. religious history, and just as surely the religious-studies wing of our profession does not need...

    • 17 Catholic Studies and the Sacramental Imaginary: New Directions in Catholic Humanism
      (pp. 372-394)

      Coming of age as a Catholic in metropolitan Philadelphia in the 1980s and 1990s, I was desensitized to the unjust reality of urban poverty at an early age. I simply assumed that trash and graffiti, abandoned cars, blocks of blighted row homes, schools that looked more like prisons, and massive stone churches that used to be Catholic were as natural to the urban landscape as homes with manicured lawns and driveways, parks for soccer and baseball, and church bells that rang at noon were to my suburban one. Even as a young adult, I assumed that both environments were simply...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 395-434)
  11. List of Contributors
    (pp. 435-438)
  12. Index
    (pp. 439-452)