Between Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars who Study Them

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Princeton University Press, 2005 - Religion - 245 pages
6 Reviews

Between Heaven and Earth explores the relationships men, women, and children have formed with the Virgin Mary and the saints in twentieth-century American Catholic history, and reflects, more broadly, on how people live in the company of sacred figures and how these relationships shape the ties between people on earth. In this boldly argued and beautifully written book, Robert Orsi also considers how scholars of religion occupy the ground in between belief and analysis, faith and scholarship.

Orsi infuses his analysis with an autobiographical voice steeped in his own 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 not as a medium of making meanings, Orsi maintains, but as a network of relationships between heaven and earth involving people of all ages as well as the many sacred figures they hold dear. Orsi argues that modern academic theorizing about religion has long sanctioned dubious distinctions between "good" or "real" religious expression on the one hand and "bad" or "bogus" religion on the other, which marginalize these everyday relationships with sacred figures.

This book is a brilliant critical inquiry into the lives that people make, for better or worse, between heaven and earth, and into the ways scholars of religion could better study of these worlds.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - LudieGrace - LibraryThing

Raises lots of interesting methodological questions for students of religious studies (and theology, to a lesser extent), plus fun stuff on mid-20th-century American Catholicism and the very nature of modernity. A great read whether you agree with his approaches or not. Read full review

Review: Between Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars Who Study Them

User Review  - BHodges - Goodreads

An excellent book; describes, prescribes, and enacts. Loved it. Read full review


Mildred Is It Fun to Be a Cripple? The Culture of Suffering in MidTwentieth Century American Catholicism
The Many Names of the Mother of God
Material Children making Gods Presence Real for Catholic Boys and Girls and for the Adults in Relation to Them
Two Aspects of One Life Saint Gemma Galgani and My Grandmother in the Wound between Devotion and History the natural and the Supernatural
Have you Everm Prayed to Saint Jude? Reflections on Fieldwork in Catholic Chicago
Snakes Alive Religious Studies between Heaven and Earth

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Page 16 - He has set His mark upon her. Somehow you guess; those frail little shoulders are shaped for a cross, those eyes are amber chalices deep enough for pain, that grave, courteous little heart is big enough to hold Him! He yet will be her tremendous Lover, drawing her gently into His white embrace, bestowing upon her the sparkling, priceless pledge of His love suffering.

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About the author (2005)

Robert A. Orsi is Charles Warren Professor of the History of Religion in America, Harvard Divinity School. He is the author of "The Madonna of 115th Street", winner of the John Gilmary Shea Prize of the American Catholic Historical Association; and of "Thank You, St. Jude", winner of the 1998 Merle Curti Award in American Social History.

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