The Catholic Imagination by Andrew Greeley

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Synopsis

Catholics live in an enchanted world: a world of statues and holy water, stained glass and votive candles, saints and religious medals, rosary beads and holy pictures. But these Catholic paraphernalia are merely hints of a deeper and more pervasive religious sensibility that inclines Catholics to see the Holy lurking in creation. The world of the Catholic is haunted by a sense that the objects, events, and persons of daily life are revelations of Grace. In this fascinating discussion of what is unique about the Catholic worldview and culture and what distinguishes it from Protestantism, Andrew Greeley--one of the most popular and prolific authors writing today--examines the religious imagination that shapes Catholics' lives.

In a lively and engaging narrative, Greeley discusses the central themes of Catholic culture: Sacrament, Salvation, Community, Festival, Structure, Erotic Desire, and the Mother Love of God. Ranging widely from Bernini to Scorsese, Greeley distills these themes from the high arts of Catholic culture and asks: Do these values really influence people's lives? Using international survey data, he shows the counterintuitive ways in which Catholics are defined. He goes on to root these behaviors in the Catholic imagination.

As he identifies and explores the fertile terrain of Catholic culture, Greeley illustrates the enduring power of particular stories, images, and orientations in shaping Catholics' lived experience. He challenges a host of assumptions about who Catholics are and makes a strong case for the vitality of the culture today. The Catholic imagination is sustained and passed on in relationships, the home, and the community, Greeley shows. Absorbing, compassionate, and deeply informed, this book provides an entirely new perspective on the nature and role of religion in daily life for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
 

About Andrew Greeley

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Andrew Greeley is Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago and the University of Arizona and Research Associate at the National Opinion Research Center. He is the author of numerous books, including Religion as Poetry (1996), Catholic Myth: The Behavior and Beliefs of American Catholics (1994), Religious Changes in America: Social Trends (1989), Confessions of a Parish Priest (1986), and American Catholics: A Social Portrait (1977), in addition to more than thirty novels.
 
Published April 28, 2000 by University of California Press. 213 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Catholic Imagination

Kirkus Reviews

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Nevertheless, Catholics are not simply taking their marching orders from Rome—according to Greeley, the local parish priest is the authority figure to whom most Catholics look.

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Publishers Weekly

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Greeley may be better known as a novelist than a sociologist, but in this latest book he is in full professional stride, offering studied observations on his Church in the years since the landmark Second Vatican Council (1962–65).

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Publishers Weekly

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Readers familiar with Greeley's previous nonfiction works will find this extended essay a variation on a familiar theme.

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Boston.com

Church leaders have turned over priest files and adopted a new policy on sex abuse.

Jul 07 2002 | Read Full Review of The Catholic Imagination

Spirituality & Practice

Donning their prophetic garb, the authors call upon Catholic believers to (1) accept, "the sacramentality of sex [which] emphasizes both the goodness of passion and the importance of commitment," (2) see the value of saints, angels, demons and the like as signs of good and evil in the world, (3) ...

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Spirituality & Practice

The book opens with this breathless paragraph: "Catholics live in an enchanted world, a world of statues and holy water, stained glass and votive candles, saints and religious medals, rosary beads and holy pictures.

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