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Faith and the Historian

Faith and the Historian: Catholic Perspectives

EDITED BY Nick Salvatore
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Faith and the Historian
    Book Description:

    Faith and the Historian collects essays from eight experienced historians discussing the impact of being touched? by Catholicism on their vision of history. That first graduate seminar, these essays suggest, did not mark the inception of ones historical sensibilities; rather, the process had deeper, and earlier, roots. The authors­--ranging from cradle to the grave? Catholics to those who havent practiced for forty years, and everywhere in between--explicitly investigate the interplay between their personal lives and beliefs and the sources of their professional work. A variety of heartfelt, illuminating, and sometimes humorous experiences emerge from these stories of intelligent people coming to terms with their Catholic backgrounds as they mature and enter the academy. Contributors include: Philip Gleason, David Emmons, Maureen Fitzgerald, Joseph A. McCartin, Mario T. García, Nick Salvatore, James R. Barrett, and Anne M. Butler.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09234-3
    Subjects: Religion, Language & Literature, Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Nick Salvatore

    In March 2001, a small group of historians of American life gathered at Cornell University to share their thinking on how an experience with Catholicism had affected their approach to history.¹ Not all the participants were practicing Catholics, but all who gave papers, whatever their current beliefs, were born into Catholic families and thus had been “touched by Catholicism” in a serious manner. How, we collectively wondered, had that experience influenced our historical work?

    The origins of this conference lay in the occasional discussions between the two co-organizers, Steve Rosswurm of Lake Forest College and me, that began in the...

  5. 1 Becoming (and Being) a Catholic Historian
    (pp. 7-30)

    I am (although I am not fond of the expression) a “cradle Catholic,” and I hope to be a cradle-to-grave Catholic. For me, Catholicism is not a matter of looking back on the influence of a no-longer-operative “identity.” Being a Catholic is, rather, so closely linked with my past and present sense of myself that autobiography seems the only way to approach the task of reflecting on the connections between my religious faith and my professional training and work as a historian. Since autobiography should start somewhere near the beginning, I begin with some notes on how religion interacted with...

  6. 2 Personal Landscapes of Catholicism: From East to West
    (pp. 31-48)

    On the always-turbulent landing approach to the Salt Lake City airport, one feels the West rise up in greeting. The intermountain West, embraced by the northern Rockies in one direction and the Sierra Nevada in the other, awaits. Snow-topped peaks soar stunningly into the air, the out-of-place Great Salt Lake lies still upon the valley floor, the brown and parceled land reflects its unforgiving aridity—sharp reminders that one is about to enter a magnificent, unparalleled arena of contested spaces and conflicted peoples.

    Other national regions may claim landscapes of beauty and legacies of contention. The West, however, with its...

  7. 3 Homecoming: Finding a Catholic Hermeneutic
    (pp. 49-81)

    Early in the fall of 1990, I got a call from Albert Borgmann, a University of Montana professor of philosophy and one of the university’s most distinguished scholars. The call was to invite me to the faculty’s Philosophy Forum, a healthy mix of the solemn and the hilarious and one of the university’s more durable and useful traditions. The topic for that October forum would be my recently published bookThe Butte Irish: Class and Ethnicity in an American Mining Town, 1875–1925, an account of the rambunctious and conspicuously Catholic Irish who dominated the world’s greatest mining town. A...

  8. 4 In Search of Chicano Catholic Identity and History
    (pp. 82-97)

    While I was a college student at the University of Texas at El Paso, every Sunday morning I drove my grandmother, whom we called Nama, to 6:30 Mass. This was from 1962 to 1966, years that coincided with Vatican II but before its liturgical reforms became very evident. It was a quiet Mass with not many in attendance, but always the same people. We sat in the same pew at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Arizona Avenue about a mile from our rented house, which was also on the same street on what was referred to as the Golden Hill with...

  9. 5 Deeply Within: Catholicism, Faith, and History
    (pp. 98-116)

    I find myself in Detroit, Michigan, on any one of many Sundays between 1998 and 2004. I get off the Lodge Freeway, take a right on West Grand, past Ford Hospital, past Hitsville, Motown’s original home, and on past some badly run-down houses, to Linwood. A right on Linwood takes me past the Shrine of the Black Madonna, the still-operating site of the Reverend Albert Cleage’s Black Christian Nationalist movement. Shortly beyond this church, Linwood becomes C. L. Franklin Boulevard, and I make a left into the parking lot, leave the car, and walk across the boulevard to New Bethel...

  10. 6 The Blessed Virgin Made Me a Socialist: An Experiment in Catholic Autobiography and the Historical Understanding of Race and Class
    (pp. 117-147)

    As Renee Remond has observed, historians are taught “to be on their guard against subjectivity, their own as much as others’. They know from experience the precariousness of recollection, the unreliability of first-person testimony. . . . Everyone has an unconscious tendency to introduce a factitious coherence into the path of his [sic] life. They have no reason to think that they have any better chance to avoid the tricks of memory that they have learned to spy out in others.”¹ Is there a reason we might be interested in the details of any given historian’s life for their own...

  11. 7 Lost at the Drive-In
    (pp. 148-164)

    Several years ago I gave a talk at the College of William and Mary on my own struggles with subjectivity and research, especially as they pertained to my work on Irish Catholic women historically and my quite complex relation to Catholicism. At the end of the talk, a perceptive colleague asked me what should not have been a startling question; namely, “Is there a Catholic methodology?”¹ I was stymied, not least because I had spoken vehemently on my decision to refuse anymore to call myself an “ex-Catholic” in recognition of the impact of my Catholic childhood, family, and values on...

  12. 8 Utraque Unum: Finding My Way as a Catholic and a Historian
    (pp. 165-186)

    It was my threatened excommunication that made me think seriously about the relationship between my Catholicism and my work as a historian. In 1999, I faced the prospect of being officially barred from the Church of my birth, severed from a connection that had shaped my life more than any other except perhaps my family—which itself had been permeated with Catholicism’s influence. Catholicism had provided the moral, intellectual, and cultural foundation of my upbringing. Though I had long since left the securely Catholic world of my youth and had grown increasingly critical of the institutional Church as an adult,...

    (pp. 187-190)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 191-197)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 198-199)