The Sacraments of Sensibility
Sacred Place, Sacred Time
The Mother Love of God
Sensibility and Socialization
The Enchanted Imagination
A Note on Sources
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.
Readers familiar with Greeley's previous nonfiction works will find this extended essay a variation on a familiar theme. Greeley--a Catholic priest, sociologist and novelist who teaches at the University of Chicago and the University of Arizona--posits that Catholicism creates an imaginative worldview that finds grace "lurking everywhere," from the city streets to the landscape to the bedroom. It is a worldview that pervades Greeley's many novels. Here, Greeley draws on art, literature, music and films produced by Catholics, ranging from the Baroque sculptures of Bernini to the contemporary fiction of James T. Farrell. He also draws on his own research to illustrate what he calls an "enchanted imagination," a sensibility Greeley attributes to Catholicism's emphasis on God's immanence, as opposed to Protestantism's focus on God's transcendence. This book's principles reiterate Greeley's previous books and articles on Catholic myth and imagination, including several that seem less hurriedly composed. Protestants may be put off by some of his comparisons (for example, "Catholics are more interested in the fine arts than Protestants" and "Catholics tend to picture society as supportive and not oppressive, while Protestants tend to picture society as oppressive and not supportive"). Imperfections aside, Greeley devotees may enjoy following him over this terrain again, possibly collecting references to artistic works for follow-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"The Catholic Imagination is vintage Greeley, at his most thought-provoking, insightful, charming, and readable. As a skilled novelist, he leads his reader through personal anecdotes and lively descriptions of the works of art to a series of interpretations that point to an identifiably Catholic way of looking at the world. As a trained sociologist, he turns these observations into hypotheses and tests them against the statistical data that he and others have gathered from examining the attitudes of ordinary, everyday Catholics. Greeley finds a remarkable consistency between sensibilities revealed in works of high art, popular art, and the lived experience of Catholics that he calls appropriately the Catholic imagination." - Richard A. Blake, S.J., Theological Studies "Greeley has written a lively, controversial, and stimulating book in which he describes a Catholic imagination which is different from (not better or worse than) a Protestant imagination. Going beyond his own position, I believe Protestants have much to learn not just about the Catholic imagination but from it as he describes it." - Robert Bellah, coauthor of Habits of the Heart "A perceptive examination of the prominent role played by ritual, imagination, and spirituality in the everyday lives of both practicing and nonpracticing Catholics." - Margaret Flanagan, Booklist "Greeley draws on art, literature, music and films produced by Catholics, ranging from the Baroque sculptures of Bernini to the contemporary fiction of James T. Farrell." - Publishers Weekly
Greeley has written an "extended essay" in which he maintains that Catholics (both practicing and supposedly lapsed) have developed a religious imagination that inclines them to see the Holy lurking in all corners of creation. Greeley proposes that such religious imagination produces a sense of enchantment, which is reflected in high and not-so-high culture, in religious devotion, in community structures and relationships, and even in sexual enjoyment. This is not a new proposal for Greeley; he has been writing about it for the last dozen years or so. But this essay gives him the chance to pull many aspects together into a single coherent piece. Unfortunately, Greeley uses the book's format as an extended opinion piece to excuse himself from theological precision, and he continues his unsavory habit of resorting to jargon ("K”ln" and "Dom" rather than "Cologne" and "Cathedral," for example) to dress up his argument. Recommended for larger libraries and for those where Greeley's name will assure good circulation.--David I. Fulton, Our Lady of Victories Church, Baptistown, NJ Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.