The reason I am talking about Catholics here is because of the subtitle of Bender’s book: Spirituality and the American Religious Imagination. The evocation of the singular here—“the American religious imagination”—points to an enduring question about how American religions and religion, in the present and the past, are conceptualized. In particular, the singular articulates the resilient assumption that the subject of American religion or American spirituality is sufficiently plumbed by studying groups of evangelical or liberal (or post-evangelical and post-liberal) Protestants. . . . The irony here is that as Bender moves more deeply into the experiential world of the new metaphysicals, she begins to describe their ways of being religious in terms that strike me as Catholic.Read the rest of The Catholic heresy, again.
Robert Orsi holds the Grace Craddock Nagle Chair in Catholic Studies at Northwestern University. He studies American Catholicism in both historical and ethnographic perspective, and he is widely recognized also for his work on theory and method for the study of religion. His numerous publications include The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880-1950 (Yale University Press, 1985; 2nd ed., 2002), Thank You, Saint Jude: Women’s Devotion to the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes (Yale University Press, 1996), Between Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars Who Study Them (Princeton University Press, 2004), and, as editor, Gods of the City: Religion and the American Urban Landscape (Indiana University Press, 1999). Read Robert Orsi's contribution to Contending Modernities.