By Robert A. Orsi
Among Heaven and Earth explores the relationships males, girls, and youngsters have shaped with the Virgin Mary and the saints in twentieth-century American Catholic background, and displays, extra generally, on how humans dwell within the corporation of sacred figures and the way those relationships form the binds among humans on the earth. during this boldly argued and wonderfully written e-book, Robert Orsi additionally considers how students of faith occupy the floor in among trust and research, religion and scholarship.
his research with an autobiographical voice steeped in his personal Italian-American Catholic background--from the devotion of his uncle Sal, who had cerebral palsy, to a "crippled saint," Margaret of Castello; to the bond of his Tuscan grandmother with Saint Gemma Galgani.
Religion exists no longer as a medium of constructing meanings, Orsi continues, yet as a community of relationships among heaven and earth regarding humans of every age in addition to the numerous sacred figures they carry pricey. Orsi argues that smooth educational theorizing approximately faith has lengthy sanctioned doubtful differences among "good" or "real" spiritual expression at the one hand and "bad" or "bogus" faith at the different, which marginalize those daily relationships with sacred figures.
This ebook is an excellent severe inquiry into the lives that folks make, for greater or worse, among heaven and earth, and into the methods students of faith might higher examine of those worlds.
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Extra resources for Between Heaven and Earth : The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars Who Study Them
4 Pain was a ladder to heaven. The saints were unhappy unless they were in physical distress of some sort. 5 Pain was always the thoughtful prescription of the Divine Physician. The cancer afﬂicting Thomas Dooley, the handsome young doctor and 22 CHAPTER ONE missionary to Southeast Asia in the 1950s who completely captured American Catholic hearts, was celebrated in Catholic popular culture as a grace, a mark of divine favor. Dooley himself wrote, “God has been good to me. ”7 Catholics thrilled to describe the body in pain.
But what was it like to believe that this mean God wanted you to suffer like this? Or to hear from the mouths of the ambulatory and the healthy calm afﬁrmations of your distress, to receive from them the word that you were better off bedridden, poor, and alone? “They hid us away,” my uncle shouted at me one afternoon on the back porch of the home, long after my days there as a summertime janitor. ” We were in the middle of a conversation—an “interview,” I was calling it—about Sal’s favorite saints for a new project of mine when he began telling me how the families of his friends, ashamed of them, hid them away in the back rooms so that their neighbors wouldn’t see them.
Devotional writers castigated sick people for asking to be positioned more comfortably on beds that such writers liked to see as miniature calvaries rather than as the lumpy, lonely places of human suffering they actually were. The ethos confronted the sick with an image of the suffering Christ and then, in a perverse inverted Christology, told them that this image mocked any suffering of theirs: Did Jesus ask for a pillow on the Cross? Furthermore, by making pain a challenge, or test, of spiritual capacity, devotional culture added a layer of guilt and recrimination to the experience of bodily disease, as it proclaimed that most humans would fail this test.