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Jesuits, Mormons, and American Religion in the World

Conception de Ataco, El Salvador

Conception de Ataco, El Salvador

Dr. Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp has written extensively on the importance of space and geography in studying American religions. I interviewed her at the University of Notre Dame, Cushwa Center’s Seminar in American Religion. This session dealt with Dr. John McGreevy (History, Notre Dame)’s new book, “American Jesuits and the World.” Maffly-Kipp and Thomas Bender (History, NYU) gave remarks about the book; McGreevy responded; and two hours of Q&A with scholars and graduate students followed.

My conversation with Maffly-Kipp begins with McGreevy’s book, expands to include her work on Mormonism in contrast to Catholicism, and ends with a discussion of evangelical historian Mark Noll, in whose honor Notre Dame was originally going to host a conference, but was cancelled at the last minute. This free-ranging conversation nonetheless centers on Jesuits, Mormons, and transnational religious history.

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A transcription of this interview is also available, and has been pasted below.


Jesuits, Mormons and American Religion in the World

Podcast with Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp

Interviewed by Daniel Gorman Jr.

Transcribed by Helen Bradstock

Audio and transcript available at: Maffly-Kipp_-_Jesuits,_Mormons_and_American_Religion_in_the_World_1.1

Daniel Gorman (DG): Dr Maffly-Kipp, welcome to the Religious Studies Project

Laurie Maffly-Kipp (LMK): Thank you.

DG: We’re here at the Morris Inn, at the University of Notre Dame. We just finished the Cushwa Centre’s Biannual Seminar in American Religion, discussing John McGreevy’s book on Jesuits in the World. So, you have been writing about space, and geography, and understanding religion for more than twenty years now, beginning with your essay in Thomas Tweed’s edited volume, Retelling US Religious History. I’d be curious to know how your views have evolved, and what you believe is the importance of space and geography in studying American religions.

LMK: That essay was my initial foray into the field and it was more of a thought piece, based on sort-of the hypothetical question of: what would you do if you didn’t narrate American religious history from the perspective of European movements from East to West – particularly British American movements. In a sense, it was also inspired by the work, in the 1930s, of Herbert Bolton – who was a historian of empires in the New World – and his basic observation that the Spanish Empire had been a part of North America and South America, long before the British ever came along. So, what would it do to sort-of retell the story of the growth of the US nation and religion in that sort-of setting, but come at it from the perspective of all theses different movements into North America, at various points in time? So that was, I think, a framework that I laid out. And since then I’ve been, I guess, exploring different avenues into that. Most recently, I’ve been spending time doing work on Mormon history and looking at Mormonism. But I think that that focus on space has then led me to think about Mormonism differently: how do I think about Mormonism as having a particular kind of centre in the United States, but also has having other areas in other parts of the world that are significant for particular purposes?

DG: So today, the book we’ve been talking about – American Jesuits in the World, by John McGreevy – it’s dealing with, well, somewhat missionary activity, but a little different from what you focus on. Because you’re often talking about American Mormons going outwards, whereas he’s talking about, at first, Europeans coming to missionise America. Can you talk a little bit about the differences you see between Mormons and Jesuits operating on the world stage?

LMK: Well, they’re very different. I mean, certainly, they’re different in terms of having a different focus on what they were doing with other people. So, for Jesuits: Jesuits are a particular Catholic order; their jobs revolve around educating peoples, administering the sacraments and keeping people in the faith. For Mormons, the goal tends to be to create habits of discipline and industry – much like those of the missionaries themselves. There’s sort-of a distinct separation between the kinds of spiritual practices that a Jesuit missionary undertakes, and what he’s trying to inculcate in other people. Whereas, for Mormon’s, they were sort-of one and the same thing. So that’s just one small difference. But, I think, on all kinds of different levels there are differences. But there are also similarities, because Mormons are also exiles – perhaps exiles in their own land. But they have a very – I guess, the best way to put it is – angular relationship to the US government in the 19th century, and often a very combative relationship. So, they aren’t sold on the idea of the nation state as necessarily an all-encompassing good, just as the Catholics are disaffected from the US Government in various ways.

DG: Well, certainly, one of the points that came up in the Q and A session, today, was that the Jesuits were roundly denounced as a secret society on the floor of Congress – one that should be banned. But there wasn’t widespread Catholic persecution in the 19th century, the way we saw against the Mormons.

LMK: I don’t know, I think you could argue with that: the burning of convents, riots in the streets . . .

DG: Well, that’s true.

LMK: . . . in Philadelphia and Boston. So, in some ways, I think that the tensions were manifest in more physical kinds of ways than they were for the Mormons. There were a few incidents with the Mormons. And the Mormons certainly fought back at various points. So I think, actually, a comparison of them is really helpful to see the ways that Protestant America was shaping the limits of its own toleration.

DG: I suppose, what I was thinking of more was that there was not state legislation against the Catholic Church in the way that there was, for instance, when the Governor of Missouri declared war on the Mormon people, saying: “Leave my state or I’m going to kill all of you!” (5:00) That is a difference.

LMK: Right! Yes. You’re right. That’s a difference. Although, I think one of the interesting things about John McGreevy’s book is the way he points out how assiduously Protestant Americans worked to create laws that would exclude Catholics in certain kinds of ways. So, from public education: there were certain rules put in place that made it obvious that the Catholics were not going to fall within the bounds of the law. I mean, their kind of education wouldn’t be acceptable as a form of public education. So, it seems to me that the very creating and shaping of laws is another way to put boundaries around religious toleration.

DG: Now, I’m curious also . . . You’ve obviously read the book – you’ve just delivered a short paper commenting on it. If you were writing a book about transnational religion in the 19th century – I mean, McGreevy is focussing on the ideas of nationhood and politics – what would be the factors that you’d want to pursue? What do you see as mattering the most?

LMK: Well, in fact, I am writing that kind of book right now.

DG: Well that’s fortuitous!

LMK: Yes. So, in fact, I am writing a book on transnational religion, in that I am writing a history of Mormonism that tries to take seriously Mormonism as a global religion and an international movement from the beginning, not simply since World War II. It’s certainly the case that there are now more Mormons outside the US than in, but even in the 1850s there were more Mormon’s in England than in the US.

DG: Oh certainly, they were very active with sending missionaries – also to Scandinavia as well as England.

LMK: Later, to Scandinavia. There were sort-of waves of migration, and missionisation and migration, starting with England and moving into Scandinavia by the 1860s and 1870s. And all of those – or many, many of those people – came over to the US, and really saved what had been a dying movement by the 1850s.

DG: Yes. I believe you mentioned, during the Q and A period, that most Mormons at the end of the 19th Century in America were foreign-born.

LMK: Either foreign-born or second generation at best. Because, yes, the bulk had been immigrants.

DG: That’s not a comment that the Church stresses very much any more!

LMK: No, but it’s also not a comment that other historians have noticed much.

DG: Certainly not.

LMK: I think the focus has been on Mormonism as a distinctly American religion, which is certainly true in terms of the influences on its founders. But it’s not true in terms of who joined the movement in the first half-century.

DG: Very interesting. I think the claims you’re making will certainly overhaul graduate reading lists round the country – including my own! So, the other thing . . . I’m thinking that at my University , the University of Rochester, the graduate . . .well, loosely defined, our graduate interests are supposed to be around “the world of goods, the world of nations and the world of ideas”. So, a nice way to integrate cultural and social history. Now, listening to the Q and A today, lo and behold! The comments wind up revolving around ideas, goods and nations. So the comments from, for instance, Thomas Bender – one of your co-panellists – saying that we should think of the Jesuits as a cosmopolitan religion; the discussion from Dr McGreevy that later Jesuits were embracing American nationalism, even though they weren’t necessarily OK with separation of church and state; and your discussion of the culture Jesuits were bringing from around the world. Now, I just recapped – for the listeners – a lot of material and I certainly threw a lot at you, but I’d be curious . . . . These concepts of the physical things and the more intangible things: what do you see of those as their place in American religion?

LMK: What do I see as the place of those in American religion?

DG: So, I suppose, is there an aspect: nationhood, ideology, material culture? Do you see one factor as being more important than another?

LMK: No. I think what I was trying to call for was not separating them – at least, disaggregating them in some way but not isolating any of them one from another. I think it’s easy. . . . We often get a little too free with our definitions of globalism, internationalism, transnationalism. . .

DG: Sure

LMK: . . . and I think, part of what my colleague was calling for was the use of the term cosmopolitan as sort-of an orientation towards the rest of the world. (10:00) What it seems to me, though, that using that term can do is to draw attention away from the way power flows in the movements: the power of states is one kind of power, economic power is another kind of power. I think that’s how I would break things down. Material goods are interesting to focus on, but there’s also, appending to that, the question of “Who’s paying for what?”

DG: Oh, sure.

LMK: Right? And that determines the flow of those goods.

DG: So, if you were to say, simply, that “Oh, the Jesuits were cosmopolitan”, that may be obscuring who’s leading their operations.

LMK: Right. So, if you just notice that they’re bringing chalices over from Italy and putting them into chapels in North Dakota, it doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about the circumstances behind those movements. And so, you just don’t want to separate those two things out. I suppose that’s the simple point I’m trying to make.

DG: So, a lot of the conversation today dealt with the fact that the Jesuits do eventually, wind up launching outward from their bases in America to the Pacific Empire. And that really intersects with several of your books dealing with Pacific missionaries. Could you expand a bit on missionaries in the Pacific?

LMK: Yes. I think the 19th Century was the Pacific Century in that regard. If one could say that the 17th and 18th centuries sort-of focussed on Atlantic movements – with the slave trade, with European migrations to the new World – the Pacific Century is very much caught up, at least in terms of the relationship of the US to other nations, with: movements from various countries in Asia, eastward; the US becoming an imperial power, moving to places like Hawaii and later down to Central and South America. And those sorts of exchanges and contexts become focal points for interesting religious phenomena.

DG: Sure. And then the other thing, I’m thinking about, though, was – coming towards the end of the conversation – was that McGreevy’s book is mostly focussing on putting Jesuits into the international story, not so much on their interior life. I mean, he touches on that in the discussion with Father Bapst but it’s not the main point of the book. And we’re sitting here at the Cushwa Centre which has. . . the nature of spirituality and history has been a recurring topic for them. Do you think the book could have done more to consider the interior life of these priests?

LMK: By interior life, do you mean . . . ? I mean, he does consider things like the devotionalism, the increasing devotionalism in the 19th century – which is tied to interiority, I guess.

DG: I suppose I was thinking of the one gentleman’s comments which were about: “the book doesn’t really deal with the sort of spiritual exercises that Jesuits do”.

LMK: Yes. It ‘s certainly more focussed on the Jesuits as missionaries. And it struck me, as that conversation was going on, that Jesuits are not necessarily trying to inculcate the same disciplines in the people they are leading to the faith as they do in themselves. And, in a sense, those are almost two different tasks of a missionary. One question is: how do you inculcate discipline, education, bodily exercises or whatever into your subjects? But, as members of a Jesuit order, how do you try to maintain your own spiritual discipline, which might be a very different thing?

DG: Oh, certainly.

LMK: That’s certainly not where McGreevy’s interest lays.

DG: Well, it also brings up an interesting contrast with your work, for instance, studying Mormons – who take the Protestant idea of “every man his own priest” to an extreme, compared to the Catholic priest, saying: “There are certain things that are just for us and not for you.”

LMK: Exactly. Exactly, yes. So Mormons: they’re trying to replicate themselves and say, “This is how you live a Christian life – do as I do.” It’s a lay order, there isn’t a trained ministry, in that sense. So, I think , the tasks are really different. And what the Jesuits are trying to preserve for themselves in their own spiritual lives, can be – and in some situations is – very different from what they’re trying to get others to do.

DG: Another topic that comes up, involving America in the World in Dr McGreevy’s book, is the fact that Jesuits were becoming more politically liberal as the 20th century approached, but they had an interesting relationship to America as empire. For instance, they’re perfectly happy to sail on American ships to go into the Pacific. But on the other hand, they oppose, for instance, the war in the Philippines, in the early 1900s, because it’s a war against a Catholic nation. So, in the Mormon Church, did you find similar ambivalence about the imperial message?

LMK: Earlier on there was a lot of ambivalence about it. (15:00) When Mormons send off missionaries to the South Pacific in the mid-19th century, and later to places like New Zealand, the message is, “We’re also being oppressed by our government, just as you are being oppressed.” In other words, they’re an anti-colonialist movement spreading a message of joining common cause with the oppressed people’s in Utah. “And we will”, you know, “have more strength together”. So, yes, it’s sort-of an interesting thing. And, of course, by the 20th century they are certainly in line with American liberal values in a very different way. But there are other traditions that have a much more – I would say – a much more conflicted relationship to the US Government throughout. So, African American Christians, for example, also have some debates about how much to support the American imperial project, in various places: be it Haiti, where there’s a long tradition of African American missionaries in Haiti; or in Africa, because they have their own loyalties as they see it to people in Africa. So I think the whole issue of loyalties to religion and nation – aside from the Protestant mainstream one – have always been much more conflicted, and often more complicated, than we’ve realised.

DG: So we’ve spent a long time talking about comparative aspects of your work and Dr McGreevy’s work. But, I’m curious now. The role of the Catholic Church today in the United States is . . . . So, just to narrow in on Catholicism: the Catholic Church today is a large supporter of the United States Government, although it’s basically at odds with – sometimes at odds over – social issues. Do you think that trend is going to continue, of the Catholic Church having a liberal voice in American society? Because there certainly was a resurgence of conservatism under John Paul II and Pope Benedict.

LMK: Yes . . . . Historians, typically, aren’t very good prophets.

DG: Yes, so I caveat all of this with, “This may go wrong!”

LMK: Right! You know, I think there are potentially lots of counter-cultural elements in Catholicism . Even the social teachings of Catholicism – there is an anti-militarism which goes way back, that is combined, in ways different for Catholics, with their pro-life policies. So even though they might agree with evangelical Christians or other Protestants about questions of abortion, they’d part ways over the role of the American military and its work abroad. So it’s a complicated picture, I think. And as we’ve seen – and as a historian I suppose my take is – it’ll probably come around again. We will see more episodes of liberal . . . . I’m not a whiggish historian, so I don’t believe that we are in some inevitable march towards progress of all sorts, or enlightenment. And therefore it’s hard to predict what the next step would look like.

DG: Absolutely. The thing that’s been weighing on my mind – less so than recent political developments – is population shifts and demographics in the Catholic Church. I mean, certainly, with the rise of birth control – despite what bishops might want to know – the families are smaller now than they were in, say, the 1800s. And certainly, with the rise of secularity, I am curious to see the role of Catholicism in American public life. Dr McGreevy’s book deals with them taking on a larger role and now, I wonder, as the population shrinks, what’s going to happen?

LMK: That’s a great question. We have certainly seen revivals before in this country.

DG: Oh, sure.

LMK: So it’s hard to predict. The demographic shifts are obviously significant, but exactly how they’ll play out, I think, is not easy to prognosticate. Just because there are people in the Southern Hemisphere who are becoming the voice of Christianity, it’s not clear to me what political pay-off that has, or what path that portends. In fact, if you look at something that I know a little more about, in Protestant missionary work, the kinds of Protestantism that are making in-roads in places like Africa and South America are some of the more conservative kinds of Protestantism: Pentecostalism . . .

DG: Which is a counter-narrative to the modern, growing secularism in America.

LMK: And now they’re sending missionaries back to the United States.

DG: Really?

LMK: Yes. There are reverse migratory flows of missionaries. One of the biggest churches in Western Europe right now is a church – and this may be out of date because it’s a few years ago someone told me this: that there’s a huge evangelical church that was founded by a Nigerian pastor that has grown by leaps and bounds in Europe. (20:00) Now who that’s growing among, in Europe, is an interesting question. But, of course, the make-up of Western Europe and the United States is changing, as well. So the demography may just follow back to the Northern Hemisphere.

DG: Sure. Well, this discussion of transnational Catholicism and which particular voice will win out, makes me think of the original intention for why we’re sitting here in Notre Dame. So, for our listeners, this conference was originally meant to be part of a much larger conference on the work of Mark Noll, the historian of American Christianity. Due to unfortunate circumstances, the conference had to be, mostly, scrapped. But I’m curious what you would think of this, to bring in Mr Noll as an evangelical historian and historian of evangelicalism. His recent work has been abandoning America Studies, to some extent, to talk about the world. His book, Clouds of Witnesses is about Africa and Asia. So, the work of Mark Noll: how, if at all, does that influence your research? Do you see his views about pluralism . . . do you think those are going to carry more weight, going forwards, in the academy?

LMK: In certain sections of the academy, absolutely. I mean, Mark has been a pioneer in that sort of field, looking at global Christianity, for a long time. And thinking about, well – he’s a historian with an eye to the future, and where the church is going. And that’s certainly a big piece of the puzzle that I think has trickled back into the academy, in all kinds of ways. So I don’t see that stopping, by any means. But the question of what globalism or increasing globalisation of any of these religious traditions actually means for piety, for spirituality, for institutional life is, I think, the next big question. We know what it means in terms of bodies moving from one place to another, but how that actually, then, plays out – in terms of building institutions and building structures – is anybody’s guess.

DG: Well, and you’ve also mentioned – on sort-of a final note – that you and the other panellists talk about how the Catholics have become, you know, comfortable with their place in American society. Whereas Mark Noll, in his works, is talking about how some evangelicals want to make the country an explicitly evangelical nation – and he rejects that, as an evangelical man. So do you see these fights in the academy at all, over how to define religion? Should there be an exclusively Protestant historical mould, or should we find news ways of thinking and defining religion – ways that aren’t just tied to Christianity?

LMK: So, are you thinking . . . ? Yes – I think the horse is out of barn on that one! I don’t see going back to any kind of narrow focus on either churches, or institutional life or Protestantism. But I think, in some ways, the study of religion in all of its dimensions can only enrich the future study of Protestantism, along with other traditions.

DG: Yes, I think pluralism is here to stay. Or, at least, that’s what we’re supporting, right?

LMK: Yes.

DG: And then, a genuinely final note, I’ll ask: some scholars consider Mormonism a Christian faith; others say it is a Christian inspired faith.Where do you stand on those issues?

LMK: It’s certainly inspired by Protestantism and that’s where, if you look at the first sort of members of the movement, they came by way of other Christian traditions. I don’t . . . . The theological question – of whether it is a Christian tradition – I don’t feel, as a scholar, is mine to answer. I guess, on one level, I take seriously the self-identification of Mormons who see themselves as Christians. I think it’s an interesting question to look at. I think there are other Mormons who don’t see themselves as Christian, so that’s also an interesting question: where are the fault lines, and when and where do these questions matter? As a cultural historian, I think those are the more interesting questions for me. But I am not a theologian and I am not a historian of a particular kind of church tradition, so I’ll leave that to the experts.

DG: Laurie Maffly-Kipp discussing bodies in space: what they think, what they say and what they do. Thank you very much.

LMK: You’re welcome. Thank you.


Citation Info: Maffly-Kipp, Laurie. 2017. “Jesuits, Mormons and American Religion in the World”, The Religious Studies Project (Podcast Transcript). 29 May 2017. Transcribed by Helen Bradstock. Version 1.1, 22 May 2017. Available at: https://www.religiousstudiesproject.com/podcast/jesuits-mormons-and-american-religion-in-the-world/

All transcriptions for THE RELIGIOUS STUDIES PROJECT are currently produced by volunteers. If you spot any errors in this transcription, please let us know at editors@religiousstudiesproject.com. If you would be willing to help with these efforts, or know of any sources of funding for the broader transcription project, please get in touch. Thanks for reading.

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The Catholic Underground: Lithuanian Catholicism Under the Soviet Union

Professor of Sociology at Vytautas Magnus University, in Lithuania has changed during the counter-reformation, the First Republic after WWI, the Soviet Union, and finally after the Second Independence.

According to Dr. Alisauskiene, the Roman Catholic Church heavily dominated pre-Soviet Union Lithuania. Clergy and members of the Church were heavily involved in the politics of the country, often acting as officers of the state. Acting as agents in the public and political sphere, the clergy would make decisions on behalf of all religions, including the small minority of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Orthodox Church, Baptists, Muslims, Old Believers, and other groups, within the state. As sociologists of religion, we know that religion is embedded within culture and with the dominance of Roman Catholicism in Lithuania; it no doubt has influenced the cultural identity of the country.

During Soviet control, there was forced secularization and withdrawal of religion from the public sphere. However, the people of Lithuania were very much still connected to their religion, and often practiced their faith underground. Dr. Alisauskiene points out that the religious institutions at the time lost their property, and the religious clergy experienced destruction of their system of education and were highly persecuted and imprisoned. Religious minorities ar02were able to live their religious lives a little easier during the Soviet Union, but many still retreated to the underground community to practice their faith.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Lithuania regained independence allowing Roman Catholicism to regain influence in the society. The number of people that identified as Roman Catholic pre-Soviet Union and post-Soviet Union remained about the same. The Church once again established a working relationship with the state. The new constitution acknowledges the “traditional” religious communities, and the state enumerates what is considered “traditional”.

With the resurgence of Roman Catholicism in Lithuania, Dr. Alisauskiene poses the question: “what does it mean to be Roman Catholic?” For Lithuanian Roman Catholics, much of that answer lies in the historical embeddedness of Roman Catholicism even under the oppression of the Soviet Union. As Alisauskiene states, after the fall of the Soviet Union, many of the countries took on a role of pluralism. However in the case of Lithuania, we see the citizens almost promoting a homogeneous set of beliefs and culture. This even comes from those in religious minorities. Instead of expressing a need for pluralism and to be recognized for the differences that their religion brings to the country, religious minorities push for the security of agreeing with the majority. This also creates an overall sense of security for the country. Alisauskiene attributes this to the proximity of Lithuania to Russia in comparison with countries like Poland. Interviewer, David G. Robertson poses the question of current-day migration issues in Lithuania. With the strong stance on homogeneous cultural identity, Alisauskiene states that Lithuania is not a strong proponent of immigration and have resettled very few refugees in the current European refugee crisis.

One of the more interesting parts of this podcast is the discussion of Roman Catholicism underar03 Soviet rule. As mentioned previously, religious institutions, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, lost land, buildings, and ways to educate their future clergy. As a way to show the oppression and spread the word about the treatment of the Church under Soviet control, priests and other clergy developed the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania.

As was customary before the advent of social media and 24-hour news cycles, the popular means of disseminating materials and political propaganda was in the form of pamphlets and materials to be circulated among the masses. In order to show the political oppression of the Roman Catholic Church, their resilience and resistance, the clergy produced the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania in March 1972 (Dauknys 1985).  According to Rev. Pranas Dauknys in his 1985 article, “The Resistance of the Catholic Church in Lithuania Against Religious Persecution,” The Chronicle emerged out of the unanswered petitions to the Soviet government to stop the persecution of religion under Soviet control. In December of 1971, 17,054 Catholics signed a memorandum to the United Nation General Secretary outlining the religious persecution that was faced by the Lithuanian people (Dauknys 1985). The Chronicle was a series of publication that consisted of statements from Catholic practitioners and clergy of the court proceedings against members of the Church and documentation of the protests against religious discrimination. The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania remained in publication from spring 1972 until the 39th issue was released in the summer of 1979. The entire series of publications can be viewed online, here. Despite the oppression religion faced during Soviet control, Roman Catholicism remained an integral part of Lithuanian society. Believers and clergy proved to be an unstoppable force against religious persecution.

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All in all, Milda Alisauskiene gives a very interesting overview of religion in Lithuania with a glimpse of what religious life looked like under Soviet Union rule. Despite the persecution faced by clergy, limited resources and educational training for new clergy, as well as limitations on public displays of religion, many believers remained faithful. Religion still unites the people and continues to serve as a crucial institution in conceptions of Lithuanian cultural identity.

References

Dauknus, Pranas. 1985. “The Resistance of the Catholic Church in Lithuania Against Religious Persecution.” Lithuanian Quarterly Journal of Arts and Sciences 31 (1)

 

 

 

Gender-as-Lived: Considerations in Ethnographic Methodology

virgin-mary-pics-1119

Virgin Mary

In the Religious Studies Project’s recent interview with Dr. Anna Fedele, Dr. Fedele and her interviewer discuss several aspects of interest related to the intersections of gender, religions, and power dynamics. Fedele’s book, Gender and Power in Contemporary Spirituality: Ethnographic Approaches (Routledge, 2013), is a collection of essays exploring the interaction of gender, gender norms, expressions of power, and those movements broadly identified as ‘spiritual’ or ‘spirituality’ (If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, it is an excellent set of essays and well worth the read). Fedele’s current research involves Catholic women in Portugal and the idea of ‘spiritual motherhood.’ ‘Spiritual motherhood,’ in this context, means women who have chosen to be stay-at-home-mothers, breastfeed longer than the average, give birth at home, and/or practice attachment parenting. Fedele looks at not only the experiences of the women as mothers, but their experiences as daughters and granddaughters. Fedele observes that it is very important to understand a woman’s history to know how she conceptualizes gender and motherhood.

Early in the interview Fedele offers an answer to the not-so-simple question of ‘what is gender?’ Her answer is based in both her study of classical theories of gender as well as her extensive experience as an ethnographer: ‘gender’ is what the research participants believe it to be, rather than what the researcher believes it to be. Fedele states that in her research, she tries to understand what ‘gender’ means for the people she studies, especially what gendered images they have received from their mothers and grandmothers. This relates to religion as well, because the women receive a whole set of values from their mothers, and the Catholicism in which they grew up (and still live) tells them that the mother is the center of the family, the mother must always be there for the child, as well as other notions that may not reflect the lives of the women Fedele studies.

Fedele’s approach of being guided by the women she studies resonates strongly with my perspective on studying ‘religion(s).’ The identities claimed by the individual(s) or community being researched must be acknowledged and respected by the researcher, and communicated to the audience (reader, students in a seminar, etc.) along with the researcher’s perspective and conclusions. Fedele further emphasizes this point when she observes that an academic researcher must acknowledge the power issues present in a researcher-interviewee relationship: the academic doesn’t know everything, nor is the participant ignorant. Fedele provides an example from her recent research on women, motherhood, and gendered roles conveyed via religion. The women she interviews are highly educated, intelligent, and have read extensively on pregnancy and motherhood. They are then struggling to reconcile the message of the Catholic Church (that a pregnant woman is in a state of grace, and the ideals of motherhood exemplified by the Virgin Mary) with their lived reality of physical pain and illness, sexuality, and spurts of emotions such as anger or impatience.

Sandro Botticelli - 'The Virgin and the Child' (Madonna of the Book)

Sandro Botticelli – ‘The Virgin and the Child’ (Madonna of the Book)

Fedele also cautions that scholars have an awareness of their own assumptions about the research topic. Some of Fedele’s colleagues had made a couple of highly inaccurate assumptions regarding the Portuguese women in Fedele’s study (for instance, the idea that because the women identify as religious they therefore follow all of the dictates of the Catholic Church, especially regarding abortion); the women must be anti-abortion because they value motherhood so highly, or so the assumption went. But Fedele’s research shows a much more nuanced, complicated picture: the women are not uniformly anti-abortion, owing to a distinct contrast between their Catholic upbringing, which taught that abortion is wrong, and what the women feel in their bodies and the agency they claim.

Later in the interview, Fedele emphasizes that it is crucial for scholars to have an awareness of how the religion is lived, in reality, by the people being studied. She further states that religion only exists in the lives of people and that while religion in texts can be studied, it is not alive. For example, in practice this means that she looks at living women and their stories, and shares her writing with them. She keeps an open mind regarding what they tell her and is careful to use non-judgmental language. Fedele notes that the women aren’t always interested in Fedele’s conclusions – some just read sections about themselves for accuracy or to make sure they aren’t identifiable – but some engage with the research as a whole.

These are valuable lessons for scholars of not only religion and gender, but are more broadly applicable to all scholars of religion. Whether a scholar is studying a living community, as Fedele does, or researching a text, we must be aware of the assumptions we carry with us as scholars. A person living a religion may appear different than a text would lead the researcher to believe and living communities of the same religion will differ based on location. (A point also noted by Jeff Wilson in his 2012 book, Dixie Dharma.) Fedele also leaves the listener contemplating a thorny problem related to the study of religion-as-lived (her preferred phrasing instead of ‘lived religion’): Fedele’s in-depth, ethnographic research is at odds with the pressure within departments for faculty to expediently finish research so that it can be published quickly. This hurried model of research and publication – and the constraints on conducting ethnographic research while teaching – is ultimately detrimental to the field. The trust between scholar and participant cannot be rushed or forced because the scholar is on a deadline. What valuable insights is the field missing by making it difficult for scholars to perform extensive studies on living communities?

References

Fedele, Anna and Kim E. Knibbe, eds. Gender and Power in Contemporary Spirituality: Ethnographic Approaches. Routledge Studies in Religion Series. New York & London: Routledge, 2013.

Fedele, Anna. Looking for Mary Magdalene: Alternative Pilgrimage and Ritual Creativity at Catholic Shrines in France. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Wilson, Jeff. Dixie Dharma: Inside a Buddhist Temple in the American South. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2012. (Paperback released in 2014)

Religious Providence for Religious Action: Investigating Roger Allen Laporte’s French-Canadian Catholic Heritage

In the early morning hours of November 9th 1965, a 22 year old Catholic man from upstate New York named Roger Allen Laporte self-immolated in front of the United Nations in New York City as a strong political protest against the Vietnam War. Even 50 years after the event, Laporte still enflames debate in trying to understand his motivation and the overall meaning of such a drastic action: is it sacrifice or suicide. The key to this discussion, however, is that Laporte on his deathbed claimed it to be a religious act.

In a podcast interview for the Religious Studies Project, Francesca Cadeddu shares the insights of her postdoctoral research on Laporte looking at the psychological, social, and political dynamics at play in generating new forms and/or conceptualizations of martyrdom in the 20th century. Ultimately, Cadeddu seeks to understand the complexity of Laporte’s religious conviction. In this regard, I was struck by the idea of Laporte’s Francophone (or Franco-American) heritage. Though I must admit that it can only be inferred to what degree Laporte was influenced by the culture of French-Canadian/Franco-American Catholic identity,[1] it still remains an interesting aspect to explore as another layer of Laporte’s religious conviction.

In this brief response, I wish to deepen the discussion by investigating the discursive link and importance Catholic Ultramontanism played in constructing French-Canadian/Franco-American identity on both sides of the Canada/US border. I propose that exploring the 19th century construction of a racialized French-Canadian Catholic identity based on Christian Providence may shed further light into the depth of Laporte’s actions of religious martyrdom in the 20th century.[2]

French-Canadian Predestination

From c.1850 to 1950, Catholic culture was thoroughly dominated by an Ultramontanist discourse, which was an ecclesiastical effort to emphasize the importance of the Catholic Church in countering the perceived ill effects of modern society. For francophones in North America, Ultramontanist ideology became paramount to the socio-political and cultural construction of identity.[3] Their main concern was the survival of French language and culture against the hegemonic forces of a dominant Anglo-Protestant society both in Canada and the US.

In the same period, the province of Quebec was experiencing tremendous demographic and economic transformations. The population had drastically changed with the immigration of French Canadians to the burgeoning industries of New England.[4] Nive Voisine characterized it as “the march of misery and exile”[5] because French Canadians who sought employment abroad were leaving their lands without guarantee of returning. This caused a moral panic for the clergy. The architects of the Ultramontanist Church in Quebec therefore deployed a racialized and exclusivist identity framework along the lines of religion, language, land, occupation, and family. These socio-political ideals were tethered to the belief that ‘French-Canadians’ were predestined by God to be morally righteous missionaries in North America.

One of the most important ideologues for this identity programme was historian cleric Lionel Groulx (1878-1967).[6] In his mind, French-Canadian civilization[7] needed to perpetuate itself by means of a certain ethnic identification. Groulx formed a racial categorization of French Canadians in North America he called la race nouvelle (i.e. the new race)[8] as a projection of Catholic hegemony through (1) an assertion of French Canadian homogeneity, (2) an idealization of piety embodied in the parish and the family, and (3) the notion that patrimony equals land and that one needs to fight to assert his/her nationalism. Groulx saw the perfection of French Canadian identity represented as “service at the altar, service under arms, and the tilling of the soil.”[9] Groulx presented a heroic amalgam of priest and pioneer who were literally able to imbue the land and its people with an inherent Catholic morality. Therefore, the French-Canadian must take his/her place in the moral complex of the symbolic village—which was characterized by clerical guidance, independent and hard work, and the large Catholic family—in order to act in forging a better world. According to Groulx, this is the on-going mission field predestined by God to raise up the righteous Franco-North American civilization.

But the question remains: how does this inform the character of Roger Allen Laporte’s religious action? On one level, it is difficult to assume that it had any influence on his actions, especially in 1965 which saw the great transformation of the Catholic Church shedding the weighty tiara of Ultramontanist ideology. However, there is something important to be stated with the minority standing of the French-Catholic community in the US and especially in New England. In countering the struggles of social, cultural, linguistic, and religious assimilation, this racialized idealization acts to inflate one’s conviction and moral justification at the level of identity. By pointing to the need to perpetuate one’s French identity as an action of Christian Providence is a pretty lofty idea. One that could have had residual affects on a man like Laporte when it came to taking unambiguous political action.

Again, I cannot claim that the Ultramontanist ideals of French-Canadian identity were forefront in Laporte’s mind—a man who sought symbolic resources outside of his faith as a means to political protest. Yet the idea of struggle and action as being an inherently religious paradigm is relevant to Laporte’s case. It is not difficult to imagine that in your bones (i.e. the discursive genealogy of your ethno-cultural identity) lies the tools of moral justification and religious conviction to fight against insurmountable odds (that is, the saliency of a heritage of religious Providence that leads to religious action).

References

Bélanger, Claude. “Lionel Groulx – Histoire Du Québec.” L’Encyclopédie de L’histoire Du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia. Accessed May 5, 2015. http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/encyclopedia/LionelGroulxindex.htm.

Bélanger, Damien-Claude, and Claude Bélanger. “French Canadian Emigration to the United States, 1840-1930 – Readings – Quebec History.” Accessed May 5, 2015. http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/readings/leaving.htm.

Bock, Michel. A Nation Beyond Borders: Lionel Groulx on French-Canadian Minorities. University of Ottawa Press, 2014.

Brault, Gerard J. The French-Canadian Heritage in New England. Canadian Electronic Library. Books Collection. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England ; Kingston Ont, 1986.

Buckner, Phillip A., and R. D. Francis. Canada and the British World Culture, Migration, and Identity. Canadian Electronic Library. Books Collection. Vancouver BC: UBC Press, 2006.

Desjardins, Bertrand. “Le Programme de Recherche en Démographie Historique (The Research Program in Historical Demography) – PRDH-IGD.” Accessed May 5, 2015. http://www.genealogy.umontreal.ca/en/LePrdh.

Gagnon, Serge. Quebec and Its Historians: The Twentieth Century. Canadian Electronic Library. Books Collection. Montreal Harvest House, 1985.

Gareau, Paul L. “Le Providentialisme d’hier à Aujourd’hui : La Construction Idéologique Ultramontaine de L’identité Canadienne-Française dans le Développement de l’Armée de Marie.” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 42, no. 3 (September 1, 2013): 346–63.

Groulx, Lionel. Notre Grande Aventure : L’empire Français en Amérique du Nord (1535-1760). Collection Fleur de lys. Montréal: Fides, 1958.

Lefebvre, Solange. “The Francophone Roman Catholic Church”. In Paul Bramadat and David Seljak (Eds.) Christianity and Ethnicity in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press 2008. 116-153.

Voisine, Nive. Histoire de l’Église Catholique au Québec (1608-1970). Montréal: Éditions Fides, 1971.

[1] It is interesting to note that Laporte is ranked 110th by the PRDH as a popular surname in Quebec. Cf. Desjardins, “Le Programme de Recherche En Démographie Historique (The Research Program in Historical Demography) – PRDH-IGD.”

[2] For a more in-depth discussion on the Ultramontanist construction of a moral geography in Quebec, cf. Gareau, “Le Providentialisme D’hier à Aujourd’hui : La Construction Idéologique Ultramontaine de L’identité Canadienne-Française dans le Développement de l’Armée de Marie.”

[3] Cf. Lefebvre, The Francophone Roman Catholic Church.

[4] This was a drastic demographic change that saw some 900,000 French Canadians immigrating to New England between 1840-1930. Cf. Bélanger and Bélanger, “French Canadian Emigration to the United States, 1840-1930”; Brault, The French-Canadian Heritage in New England; Buckner and Francis, Canada and the British World Culture, Migration, and Identity.

[5] “[La] marche de misère et de l’exile.” Voisine, Histoire de l’Église catholique au Québec (1608-1970), 55.

[6] Cf. for photo credit, Bélanger, “Lionel Groulx – Histoire Du Québec.”

[7] Groulx speaks not only of Quebec but in its broadest terms to include francophones of French-Canadian heritage who have left and are living in New England and all over Canada. For an in-depth analysis, cf. Bock, A Nation Beyond Borders.

[8] Cf. Groulx, Notre grande aventure.

[9] Gagnon, Quebec and Its Historians, 128.

Self-immolation as a religious act: The contested martyrdom of Roger Allen LaPorte, Catholic Worker

 

Millions of people, most of them civilians, were killed in the Vietnam War. Almost 58,000 of the war’s victims were American citizens. While most of the physical and technical conflict took place overseas, political and ideological battles were waged within the United States.

Some of these Americans died, as it were, by their own hand. In 1965, Roger Allen LaPorte, a member of the Catholic Worker, self-immolated in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York City. While LaPorte himself described his act of protest as a specifically religious act, the validity of this description would soon be—and remain—contested, finding opposition among the Catholic hierarchy. The attention of U.S. media gave the contestation of martyrdom a public arena.

In this interview, postdoctoral researcher of U.S. Catholicism, Francesca Cadeddu, shares some of her reflections on LaPorte, whose contested martyrdom by self-immolation is the topic of her present postdoctoral project.

You can also download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to rate us. And remember, you can use our Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com, or Amazon.ca links to support us at no additional cost when buying academic texts, pot noodles, very small trains, and more.

Francesca Cadeddu is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Social and Institutional Sciences in Cagliari in Italy. She is also a fellow researcher at the Foundation for Religious Studies in Bologna, Italy. She wrote her PhD dissertation on the Jesuit priest and theologian John Courtney Murray, an important figure in U.S. Catholicism who featured prominently in the development of the the Second Vatican Council’s draft of Dignitatis Humanae (which the interviewer learned is pronounced “humaneh” rather than “hoomanay” shortly before the interview, hence the interviewer’s hesitation).

Having researched at two of the most prominent institutions for Catholic Studies in the U.S., Georgetown and Notre Dame, Cadeddu visited Notre Dame by means of a research grant from Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame in the spring of 2015.

 

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Jesuits, Mormons, and American Religion in the World

Conception de Ataco, El Salvador

Conception de Ataco, El Salvador

Dr. Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp has written extensively on the importance of space and geography in studying American religions. I interviewed her at the University of Notre Dame, Cushwa Center’s Seminar in American Religion. This session dealt with Dr. John McGreevy (History, Notre Dame)’s new book, “American Jesuits and the World.” Maffly-Kipp and Thomas Bender (History, NYU) gave remarks about the book; McGreevy responded; and two hours of Q&A with scholars and graduate students followed.

My conversation with Maffly-Kipp begins with McGreevy’s book, expands to include her work on Mormonism in contrast to Catholicism, and ends with a discussion of evangelical historian Mark Noll, in whose honor Notre Dame was originally going to host a conference, but was cancelled at the last minute. This free-ranging conversation nonetheless centers on Jesuits, Mormons, and transnational religious history.

You can download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to rate us. And remember, you can use our Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com, or Amazon.ca links to support us at no additional cost when buying academic texts, Frankincense, and Myrh.


A transcription of this interview is also available, and has been pasted below.


Jesuits, Mormons and American Religion in the World

Podcast with Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp

Interviewed by Daniel Gorman Jr.

Transcribed by Helen Bradstock

Audio and transcript available at: Maffly-Kipp_-_Jesuits,_Mormons_and_American_Religion_in_the_World_1.1

Daniel Gorman (DG): Dr Maffly-Kipp, welcome to the Religious Studies Project

Laurie Maffly-Kipp (LMK): Thank you.

DG: We’re here at the Morris Inn, at the University of Notre Dame. We just finished the Cushwa Centre’s Biannual Seminar in American Religion, discussing John McGreevy’s book on Jesuits in the World. So, you have been writing about space, and geography, and understanding religion for more than twenty years now, beginning with your essay in Thomas Tweed’s edited volume, Retelling US Religious History. I’d be curious to know how your views have evolved, and what you believe is the importance of space and geography in studying American religions.

LMK: That essay was my initial foray into the field and it was more of a thought piece, based on sort-of the hypothetical question of: what would you do if you didn’t narrate American religious history from the perspective of European movements from East to West – particularly British American movements. In a sense, it was also inspired by the work, in the 1930s, of Herbert Bolton – who was a historian of empires in the New World – and his basic observation that the Spanish Empire had been a part of North America and South America, long before the British ever came along. So, what would it do to sort-of retell the story of the growth of the US nation and religion in that sort-of setting, but come at it from the perspective of all theses different movements into North America, at various points in time? So that was, I think, a framework that I laid out. And since then I’ve been, I guess, exploring different avenues into that. Most recently, I’ve been spending time doing work on Mormon history and looking at Mormonism. But I think that that focus on space has then led me to think about Mormonism differently: how do I think about Mormonism as having a particular kind of centre in the United States, but also has having other areas in other parts of the world that are significant for particular purposes?

DG: So today, the book we’ve been talking about – American Jesuits in the World, by John McGreevy – it’s dealing with, well, somewhat missionary activity, but a little different from what you focus on. Because you’re often talking about American Mormons going outwards, whereas he’s talking about, at first, Europeans coming to missionise America. Can you talk a little bit about the differences you see between Mormons and Jesuits operating on the world stage?

LMK: Well, they’re very different. I mean, certainly, they’re different in terms of having a different focus on what they were doing with other people. So, for Jesuits: Jesuits are a particular Catholic order; their jobs revolve around educating peoples, administering the sacraments and keeping people in the faith. For Mormons, the goal tends to be to create habits of discipline and industry – much like those of the missionaries themselves. There’s sort-of a distinct separation between the kinds of spiritual practices that a Jesuit missionary undertakes, and what he’s trying to inculcate in other people. Whereas, for Mormon’s, they were sort-of one and the same thing. So that’s just one small difference. But, I think, on all kinds of different levels there are differences. But there are also similarities, because Mormons are also exiles – perhaps exiles in their own land. But they have a very – I guess, the best way to put it is – angular relationship to the US government in the 19th century, and often a very combative relationship. So, they aren’t sold on the idea of the nation state as necessarily an all-encompassing good, just as the Catholics are disaffected from the US Government in various ways.

DG: Well, certainly, one of the points that came up in the Q and A session, today, was that the Jesuits were roundly denounced as a secret society on the floor of Congress – one that should be banned. But there wasn’t widespread Catholic persecution in the 19th century, the way we saw against the Mormons.

LMK: I don’t know, I think you could argue with that: the burning of convents, riots in the streets . . .

DG: Well, that’s true.

LMK: . . . in Philadelphia and Boston. So, in some ways, I think that the tensions were manifest in more physical kinds of ways than they were for the Mormons. There were a few incidents with the Mormons. And the Mormons certainly fought back at various points. So I think, actually, a comparison of them is really helpful to see the ways that Protestant America was shaping the limits of its own toleration.

DG: I suppose, what I was thinking of more was that there was not state legislation against the Catholic Church in the way that there was, for instance, when the Governor of Missouri declared war on the Mormon people, saying: “Leave my state or I’m going to kill all of you!” (5:00) That is a difference.

LMK: Right! Yes. You’re right. That’s a difference. Although, I think one of the interesting things about John McGreevy’s book is the way he points out how assiduously Protestant Americans worked to create laws that would exclude Catholics in certain kinds of ways. So, from public education: there were certain rules put in place that made it obvious that the Catholics were not going to fall within the bounds of the law. I mean, their kind of education wouldn’t be acceptable as a form of public education. So, it seems to me that the very creating and shaping of laws is another way to put boundaries around religious toleration.

DG: Now, I’m curious also . . . You’ve obviously read the book – you’ve just delivered a short paper commenting on it. If you were writing a book about transnational religion in the 19th century – I mean, McGreevy is focussing on the ideas of nationhood and politics – what would be the factors that you’d want to pursue? What do you see as mattering the most?

LMK: Well, in fact, I am writing that kind of book right now.

DG: Well that’s fortuitous!

LMK: Yes. So, in fact, I am writing a book on transnational religion, in that I am writing a history of Mormonism that tries to take seriously Mormonism as a global religion and an international movement from the beginning, not simply since World War II. It’s certainly the case that there are now more Mormons outside the US than in, but even in the 1850s there were more Mormon’s in England than in the US.

DG: Oh certainly, they were very active with sending missionaries – also to Scandinavia as well as England.

LMK: Later, to Scandinavia. There were sort-of waves of migration, and missionisation and migration, starting with England and moving into Scandinavia by the 1860s and 1870s. And all of those – or many, many of those people – came over to the US, and really saved what had been a dying movement by the 1850s.

DG: Yes. I believe you mentioned, during the Q and A period, that most Mormons at the end of the 19th Century in America were foreign-born.

LMK: Either foreign-born or second generation at best. Because, yes, the bulk had been immigrants.

DG: That’s not a comment that the Church stresses very much any more!

LMK: No, but it’s also not a comment that other historians have noticed much.

DG: Certainly not.

LMK: I think the focus has been on Mormonism as a distinctly American religion, which is certainly true in terms of the influences on its founders. But it’s not true in terms of who joined the movement in the first half-century.

DG: Very interesting. I think the claims you’re making will certainly overhaul graduate reading lists round the country – including my own! So, the other thing . . . I’m thinking that at my University , the University of Rochester, the graduate . . .well, loosely defined, our graduate interests are supposed to be around “the world of goods, the world of nations and the world of ideas”. So, a nice way to integrate cultural and social history. Now, listening to the Q and A today, lo and behold! The comments wind up revolving around ideas, goods and nations. So the comments from, for instance, Thomas Bender – one of your co-panellists – saying that we should think of the Jesuits as a cosmopolitan religion; the discussion from Dr McGreevy that later Jesuits were embracing American nationalism, even though they weren’t necessarily OK with separation of church and state; and your discussion of the culture Jesuits were bringing from around the world. Now, I just recapped – for the listeners – a lot of material and I certainly threw a lot at you, but I’d be curious . . . . These concepts of the physical things and the more intangible things: what do you see of those as their place in American religion?

LMK: What do I see as the place of those in American religion?

DG: So, I suppose, is there an aspect: nationhood, ideology, material culture? Do you see one factor as being more important than another?

LMK: No. I think what I was trying to call for was not separating them – at least, disaggregating them in some way but not isolating any of them one from another. I think it’s easy. . . . We often get a little too free with our definitions of globalism, internationalism, transnationalism. . .

DG: Sure

LMK: . . . and I think, part of what my colleague was calling for was the use of the term cosmopolitan as sort-of an orientation towards the rest of the world. (10:00) What it seems to me, though, that using that term can do is to draw attention away from the way power flows in the movements: the power of states is one kind of power, economic power is another kind of power. I think that’s how I would break things down. Material goods are interesting to focus on, but there’s also, appending to that, the question of “Who’s paying for what?”

DG: Oh, sure.

LMK: Right? And that determines the flow of those goods.

DG: So, if you were to say, simply, that “Oh, the Jesuits were cosmopolitan”, that may be obscuring who’s leading their operations.

LMK: Right. So, if you just notice that they’re bringing chalices over from Italy and putting them into chapels in North Dakota, it doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about the circumstances behind those movements. And so, you just don’t want to separate those two things out. I suppose that’s the simple point I’m trying to make.

DG: So, a lot of the conversation today dealt with the fact that the Jesuits do eventually, wind up launching outward from their bases in America to the Pacific Empire. And that really intersects with several of your books dealing with Pacific missionaries. Could you expand a bit on missionaries in the Pacific?

LMK: Yes. I think the 19th Century was the Pacific Century in that regard. If one could say that the 17th and 18th centuries sort-of focussed on Atlantic movements – with the slave trade, with European migrations to the new World – the Pacific Century is very much caught up, at least in terms of the relationship of the US to other nations, with: movements from various countries in Asia, eastward; the US becoming an imperial power, moving to places like Hawaii and later down to Central and South America. And those sorts of exchanges and contexts become focal points for interesting religious phenomena.

DG: Sure. And then the other thing, I’m thinking about, though, was – coming towards the end of the conversation – was that McGreevy’s book is mostly focussing on putting Jesuits into the international story, not so much on their interior life. I mean, he touches on that in the discussion with Father Bapst but it’s not the main point of the book. And we’re sitting here at the Cushwa Centre which has. . . the nature of spirituality and history has been a recurring topic for them. Do you think the book could have done more to consider the interior life of these priests?

LMK: By interior life, do you mean . . . ? I mean, he does consider things like the devotionalism, the increasing devotionalism in the 19th century – which is tied to interiority, I guess.

DG: I suppose I was thinking of the one gentleman’s comments which were about: “the book doesn’t really deal with the sort of spiritual exercises that Jesuits do”.

LMK: Yes. It ‘s certainly more focussed on the Jesuits as missionaries. And it struck me, as that conversation was going on, that Jesuits are not necessarily trying to inculcate the same disciplines in the people they are leading to the faith as they do in themselves. And, in a sense, those are almost two different tasks of a missionary. One question is: how do you inculcate discipline, education, bodily exercises or whatever into your subjects? But, as members of a Jesuit order, how do you try to maintain your own spiritual discipline, which might be a very different thing?

DG: Oh, certainly.

LMK: That’s certainly not where McGreevy’s interest lays.

DG: Well, it also brings up an interesting contrast with your work, for instance, studying Mormons – who take the Protestant idea of “every man his own priest” to an extreme, compared to the Catholic priest, saying: “There are certain things that are just for us and not for you.”

LMK: Exactly. Exactly, yes. So Mormons: they’re trying to replicate themselves and say, “This is how you live a Christian life – do as I do.” It’s a lay order, there isn’t a trained ministry, in that sense. So, I think , the tasks are really different. And what the Jesuits are trying to preserve for themselves in their own spiritual lives, can be – and in some situations is – very different from what they’re trying to get others to do.

DG: Another topic that comes up, involving America in the World in Dr McGreevy’s book, is the fact that Jesuits were becoming more politically liberal as the 20th century approached, but they had an interesting relationship to America as empire. For instance, they’re perfectly happy to sail on American ships to go into the Pacific. But on the other hand, they oppose, for instance, the war in the Philippines, in the early 1900s, because it’s a war against a Catholic nation. So, in the Mormon Church, did you find similar ambivalence about the imperial message?

LMK: Earlier on there was a lot of ambivalence about it. (15:00) When Mormons send off missionaries to the South Pacific in the mid-19th century, and later to places like New Zealand, the message is, “We’re also being oppressed by our government, just as you are being oppressed.” In other words, they’re an anti-colonialist movement spreading a message of joining common cause with the oppressed people’s in Utah. “And we will”, you know, “have more strength together”. So, yes, it’s sort-of an interesting thing. And, of course, by the 20th century they are certainly in line with American liberal values in a very different way. But there are other traditions that have a much more – I would say – a much more conflicted relationship to the US Government throughout. So, African American Christians, for example, also have some debates about how much to support the American imperial project, in various places: be it Haiti, where there’s a long tradition of African American missionaries in Haiti; or in Africa, because they have their own loyalties as they see it to people in Africa. So I think the whole issue of loyalties to religion and nation – aside from the Protestant mainstream one – have always been much more conflicted, and often more complicated, than we’ve realised.

DG: So we’ve spent a long time talking about comparative aspects of your work and Dr McGreevy’s work. But, I’m curious now. The role of the Catholic Church today in the United States is . . . . So, just to narrow in on Catholicism: the Catholic Church today is a large supporter of the United States Government, although it’s basically at odds with – sometimes at odds over – social issues. Do you think that trend is going to continue, of the Catholic Church having a liberal voice in American society? Because there certainly was a resurgence of conservatism under John Paul II and Pope Benedict.

LMK: Yes . . . . Historians, typically, aren’t very good prophets.

DG: Yes, so I caveat all of this with, “This may go wrong!”

LMK: Right! You know, I think there are potentially lots of counter-cultural elements in Catholicism . Even the social teachings of Catholicism – there is an anti-militarism which goes way back, that is combined, in ways different for Catholics, with their pro-life policies. So even though they might agree with evangelical Christians or other Protestants about questions of abortion, they’d part ways over the role of the American military and its work abroad. So it’s a complicated picture, I think. And as we’ve seen – and as a historian I suppose my take is – it’ll probably come around again. We will see more episodes of liberal . . . . I’m not a whiggish historian, so I don’t believe that we are in some inevitable march towards progress of all sorts, or enlightenment. And therefore it’s hard to predict what the next step would look like.

DG: Absolutely. The thing that’s been weighing on my mind – less so than recent political developments – is population shifts and demographics in the Catholic Church. I mean, certainly, with the rise of birth control – despite what bishops might want to know – the families are smaller now than they were in, say, the 1800s. And certainly, with the rise of secularity, I am curious to see the role of Catholicism in American public life. Dr McGreevy’s book deals with them taking on a larger role and now, I wonder, as the population shrinks, what’s going to happen?

LMK: That’s a great question. We have certainly seen revivals before in this country.

DG: Oh, sure.

LMK: So it’s hard to predict. The demographic shifts are obviously significant, but exactly how they’ll play out, I think, is not easy to prognosticate. Just because there are people in the Southern Hemisphere who are becoming the voice of Christianity, it’s not clear to me what political pay-off that has, or what path that portends. In fact, if you look at something that I know a little more about, in Protestant missionary work, the kinds of Protestantism that are making in-roads in places like Africa and South America are some of the more conservative kinds of Protestantism: Pentecostalism . . .

DG: Which is a counter-narrative to the modern, growing secularism in America.

LMK: And now they’re sending missionaries back to the United States.

DG: Really?

LMK: Yes. There are reverse migratory flows of missionaries. One of the biggest churches in Western Europe right now is a church – and this may be out of date because it’s a few years ago someone told me this: that there’s a huge evangelical church that was founded by a Nigerian pastor that has grown by leaps and bounds in Europe. (20:00) Now who that’s growing among, in Europe, is an interesting question. But, of course, the make-up of Western Europe and the United States is changing, as well. So the demography may just follow back to the Northern Hemisphere.

DG: Sure. Well, this discussion of transnational Catholicism and which particular voice will win out, makes me think of the original intention for why we’re sitting here in Notre Dame. So, for our listeners, this conference was originally meant to be part of a much larger conference on the work of Mark Noll, the historian of American Christianity. Due to unfortunate circumstances, the conference had to be, mostly, scrapped. But I’m curious what you would think of this, to bring in Mr Noll as an evangelical historian and historian of evangelicalism. His recent work has been abandoning America Studies, to some extent, to talk about the world. His book, Clouds of Witnesses is about Africa and Asia. So, the work of Mark Noll: how, if at all, does that influence your research? Do you see his views about pluralism . . . do you think those are going to carry more weight, going forwards, in the academy?

LMK: In certain sections of the academy, absolutely. I mean, Mark has been a pioneer in that sort of field, looking at global Christianity, for a long time. And thinking about, well – he’s a historian with an eye to the future, and where the church is going. And that’s certainly a big piece of the puzzle that I think has trickled back into the academy, in all kinds of ways. So I don’t see that stopping, by any means. But the question of what globalism or increasing globalisation of any of these religious traditions actually means for piety, for spirituality, for institutional life is, I think, the next big question. We know what it means in terms of bodies moving from one place to another, but how that actually, then, plays out – in terms of building institutions and building structures – is anybody’s guess.

DG: Well, and you’ve also mentioned – on sort-of a final note – that you and the other panellists talk about how the Catholics have become, you know, comfortable with their place in American society. Whereas Mark Noll, in his works, is talking about how some evangelicals want to make the country an explicitly evangelical nation – and he rejects that, as an evangelical man. So do you see these fights in the academy at all, over how to define religion? Should there be an exclusively Protestant historical mould, or should we find news ways of thinking and defining religion – ways that aren’t just tied to Christianity?

LMK: So, are you thinking . . . ? Yes – I think the horse is out of barn on that one! I don’t see going back to any kind of narrow focus on either churches, or institutional life or Protestantism. But I think, in some ways, the study of religion in all of its dimensions can only enrich the future study of Protestantism, along with other traditions.

DG: Yes, I think pluralism is here to stay. Or, at least, that’s what we’re supporting, right?

LMK: Yes.

DG: And then, a genuinely final note, I’ll ask: some scholars consider Mormonism a Christian faith; others say it is a Christian inspired faith.Where do you stand on those issues?

LMK: It’s certainly inspired by Protestantism and that’s where, if you look at the first sort of members of the movement, they came by way of other Christian traditions. I don’t . . . . The theological question – of whether it is a Christian tradition – I don’t feel, as a scholar, is mine to answer. I guess, on one level, I take seriously the self-identification of Mormons who see themselves as Christians. I think it’s an interesting question to look at. I think there are other Mormons who don’t see themselves as Christian, so that’s also an interesting question: where are the fault lines, and when and where do these questions matter? As a cultural historian, I think those are the more interesting questions for me. But I am not a theologian and I am not a historian of a particular kind of church tradition, so I’ll leave that to the experts.

DG: Laurie Maffly-Kipp discussing bodies in space: what they think, what they say and what they do. Thank you very much.

LMK: You’re welcome. Thank you.


Citation Info: Maffly-Kipp, Laurie. 2017. “Jesuits, Mormons and American Religion in the World”, The Religious Studies Project (Podcast Transcript). 29 May 2017. Transcribed by Helen Bradstock. Version 1.1, 22 May 2017. Available at: https://www.religiousstudiesproject.com/podcast/jesuits-mormons-and-american-religion-in-the-world/

All transcriptions for THE RELIGIOUS STUDIES PROJECT are currently produced by volunteers. If you spot any errors in this transcription, please let us know at editors@religiousstudiesproject.com. If you would be willing to help with these efforts, or know of any sources of funding for the broader transcription project, please get in touch. Thanks for reading.

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The Catholic Underground: Lithuanian Catholicism Under the Soviet Union

Professor of Sociology at Vytautas Magnus University, in Lithuania has changed during the counter-reformation, the First Republic after WWI, the Soviet Union, and finally after the Second Independence.

According to Dr. Alisauskiene, the Roman Catholic Church heavily dominated pre-Soviet Union Lithuania. Clergy and members of the Church were heavily involved in the politics of the country, often acting as officers of the state. Acting as agents in the public and political sphere, the clergy would make decisions on behalf of all religions, including the small minority of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Orthodox Church, Baptists, Muslims, Old Believers, and other groups, within the state. As sociologists of religion, we know that religion is embedded within culture and with the dominance of Roman Catholicism in Lithuania; it no doubt has influenced the cultural identity of the country.

During Soviet control, there was forced secularization and withdrawal of religion from the public sphere. However, the people of Lithuania were very much still connected to their religion, and often practiced their faith underground. Dr. Alisauskiene points out that the religious institutions at the time lost their property, and the religious clergy experienced destruction of their system of education and were highly persecuted and imprisoned. Religious minorities ar02were able to live their religious lives a little easier during the Soviet Union, but many still retreated to the underground community to practice their faith.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Lithuania regained independence allowing Roman Catholicism to regain influence in the society. The number of people that identified as Roman Catholic pre-Soviet Union and post-Soviet Union remained about the same. The Church once again established a working relationship with the state. The new constitution acknowledges the “traditional” religious communities, and the state enumerates what is considered “traditional”.

With the resurgence of Roman Catholicism in Lithuania, Dr. Alisauskiene poses the question: “what does it mean to be Roman Catholic?” For Lithuanian Roman Catholics, much of that answer lies in the historical embeddedness of Roman Catholicism even under the oppression of the Soviet Union. As Alisauskiene states, after the fall of the Soviet Union, many of the countries took on a role of pluralism. However in the case of Lithuania, we see the citizens almost promoting a homogeneous set of beliefs and culture. This even comes from those in religious minorities. Instead of expressing a need for pluralism and to be recognized for the differences that their religion brings to the country, religious minorities push for the security of agreeing with the majority. This also creates an overall sense of security for the country. Alisauskiene attributes this to the proximity of Lithuania to Russia in comparison with countries like Poland. Interviewer, David G. Robertson poses the question of current-day migration issues in Lithuania. With the strong stance on homogeneous cultural identity, Alisauskiene states that Lithuania is not a strong proponent of immigration and have resettled very few refugees in the current European refugee crisis.

One of the more interesting parts of this podcast is the discussion of Roman Catholicism underar03 Soviet rule. As mentioned previously, religious institutions, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, lost land, buildings, and ways to educate their future clergy. As a way to show the oppression and spread the word about the treatment of the Church under Soviet control, priests and other clergy developed the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania.

As was customary before the advent of social media and 24-hour news cycles, the popular means of disseminating materials and political propaganda was in the form of pamphlets and materials to be circulated among the masses. In order to show the political oppression of the Roman Catholic Church, their resilience and resistance, the clergy produced the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania in March 1972 (Dauknys 1985).  According to Rev. Pranas Dauknys in his 1985 article, “The Resistance of the Catholic Church in Lithuania Against Religious Persecution,” The Chronicle emerged out of the unanswered petitions to the Soviet government to stop the persecution of religion under Soviet control. In December of 1971, 17,054 Catholics signed a memorandum to the United Nation General Secretary outlining the religious persecution that was faced by the Lithuanian people (Dauknys 1985). The Chronicle was a series of publication that consisted of statements from Catholic practitioners and clergy of the court proceedings against members of the Church and documentation of the protests against religious discrimination. The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania remained in publication from spring 1972 until the 39th issue was released in the summer of 1979. The entire series of publications can be viewed online, here. Despite the oppression religion faced during Soviet control, Roman Catholicism remained an integral part of Lithuanian society. Believers and clergy proved to be an unstoppable force against religious persecution.

ar04

All in all, Milda Alisauskiene gives a very interesting overview of religion in Lithuania with a glimpse of what religious life looked like under Soviet Union rule. Despite the persecution faced by clergy, limited resources and educational training for new clergy, as well as limitations on public displays of religion, many believers remained faithful. Religion still unites the people and continues to serve as a crucial institution in conceptions of Lithuanian cultural identity.

References

Dauknus, Pranas. 1985. “The Resistance of the Catholic Church in Lithuania Against Religious Persecution.” Lithuanian Quarterly Journal of Arts and Sciences 31 (1)

 

 

 

Gender-as-Lived: Considerations in Ethnographic Methodology

virgin-mary-pics-1119

Virgin Mary

In the Religious Studies Project’s recent interview with Dr. Anna Fedele, Dr. Fedele and her interviewer discuss several aspects of interest related to the intersections of gender, religions, and power dynamics. Fedele’s book, Gender and Power in Contemporary Spirituality: Ethnographic Approaches (Routledge, 2013), is a collection of essays exploring the interaction of gender, gender norms, expressions of power, and those movements broadly identified as ‘spiritual’ or ‘spirituality’ (If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, it is an excellent set of essays and well worth the read). Fedele’s current research involves Catholic women in Portugal and the idea of ‘spiritual motherhood.’ ‘Spiritual motherhood,’ in this context, means women who have chosen to be stay-at-home-mothers, breastfeed longer than the average, give birth at home, and/or practice attachment parenting. Fedele looks at not only the experiences of the women as mothers, but their experiences as daughters and granddaughters. Fedele observes that it is very important to understand a woman’s history to know how she conceptualizes gender and motherhood.

Early in the interview Fedele offers an answer to the not-so-simple question of ‘what is gender?’ Her answer is based in both her study of classical theories of gender as well as her extensive experience as an ethnographer: ‘gender’ is what the research participants believe it to be, rather than what the researcher believes it to be. Fedele states that in her research, she tries to understand what ‘gender’ means for the people she studies, especially what gendered images they have received from their mothers and grandmothers. This relates to religion as well, because the women receive a whole set of values from their mothers, and the Catholicism in which they grew up (and still live) tells them that the mother is the center of the family, the mother must always be there for the child, as well as other notions that may not reflect the lives of the women Fedele studies.

Fedele’s approach of being guided by the women she studies resonates strongly with my perspective on studying ‘religion(s).’ The identities claimed by the individual(s) or community being researched must be acknowledged and respected by the researcher, and communicated to the audience (reader, students in a seminar, etc.) along with the researcher’s perspective and conclusions. Fedele further emphasizes this point when she observes that an academic researcher must acknowledge the power issues present in a researcher-interviewee relationship: the academic doesn’t know everything, nor is the participant ignorant. Fedele provides an example from her recent research on women, motherhood, and gendered roles conveyed via religion. The women she interviews are highly educated, intelligent, and have read extensively on pregnancy and motherhood. They are then struggling to reconcile the message of the Catholic Church (that a pregnant woman is in a state of grace, and the ideals of motherhood exemplified by the Virgin Mary) with their lived reality of physical pain and illness, sexuality, and spurts of emotions such as anger or impatience.

Sandro Botticelli - 'The Virgin and the Child' (Madonna of the Book)

Sandro Botticelli – ‘The Virgin and the Child’ (Madonna of the Book)

Fedele also cautions that scholars have an awareness of their own assumptions about the research topic. Some of Fedele’s colleagues had made a couple of highly inaccurate assumptions regarding the Portuguese women in Fedele’s study (for instance, the idea that because the women identify as religious they therefore follow all of the dictates of the Catholic Church, especially regarding abortion); the women must be anti-abortion because they value motherhood so highly, or so the assumption went. But Fedele’s research shows a much more nuanced, complicated picture: the women are not uniformly anti-abortion, owing to a distinct contrast between their Catholic upbringing, which taught that abortion is wrong, and what the women feel in their bodies and the agency they claim.

Later in the interview, Fedele emphasizes that it is crucial for scholars to have an awareness of how the religion is lived, in reality, by the people being studied. She further states that religion only exists in the lives of people and that while religion in texts can be studied, it is not alive. For example, in practice this means that she looks at living women and their stories, and shares her writing with them. She keeps an open mind regarding what they tell her and is careful to use non-judgmental language. Fedele notes that the women aren’t always interested in Fedele’s conclusions – some just read sections about themselves for accuracy or to make sure they aren’t identifiable – but some engage with the research as a whole.

These are valuable lessons for scholars of not only religion and gender, but are more broadly applicable to all scholars of religion. Whether a scholar is studying a living community, as Fedele does, or researching a text, we must be aware of the assumptions we carry with us as scholars. A person living a religion may appear different than a text would lead the researcher to believe and living communities of the same religion will differ based on location. (A point also noted by Jeff Wilson in his 2012 book, Dixie Dharma.) Fedele also leaves the listener contemplating a thorny problem related to the study of religion-as-lived (her preferred phrasing instead of ‘lived religion’): Fedele’s in-depth, ethnographic research is at odds with the pressure within departments for faculty to expediently finish research so that it can be published quickly. This hurried model of research and publication – and the constraints on conducting ethnographic research while teaching – is ultimately detrimental to the field. The trust between scholar and participant cannot be rushed or forced because the scholar is on a deadline. What valuable insights is the field missing by making it difficult for scholars to perform extensive studies on living communities?

References

Fedele, Anna and Kim E. Knibbe, eds. Gender and Power in Contemporary Spirituality: Ethnographic Approaches. Routledge Studies in Religion Series. New York & London: Routledge, 2013.

Fedele, Anna. Looking for Mary Magdalene: Alternative Pilgrimage and Ritual Creativity at Catholic Shrines in France. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Wilson, Jeff. Dixie Dharma: Inside a Buddhist Temple in the American South. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2012. (Paperback released in 2014)

Religious Providence for Religious Action: Investigating Roger Allen Laporte’s French-Canadian Catholic Heritage

In the early morning hours of November 9th 1965, a 22 year old Catholic man from upstate New York named Roger Allen Laporte self-immolated in front of the United Nations in New York City as a strong political protest against the Vietnam War. Even 50 years after the event, Laporte still enflames debate in trying to understand his motivation and the overall meaning of such a drastic action: is it sacrifice or suicide. The key to this discussion, however, is that Laporte on his deathbed claimed it to be a religious act.

In a podcast interview for the Religious Studies Project, Francesca Cadeddu shares the insights of her postdoctoral research on Laporte looking at the psychological, social, and political dynamics at play in generating new forms and/or conceptualizations of martyrdom in the 20th century. Ultimately, Cadeddu seeks to understand the complexity of Laporte’s religious conviction. In this regard, I was struck by the idea of Laporte’s Francophone (or Franco-American) heritage. Though I must admit that it can only be inferred to what degree Laporte was influenced by the culture of French-Canadian/Franco-American Catholic identity,[1] it still remains an interesting aspect to explore as another layer of Laporte’s religious conviction.

In this brief response, I wish to deepen the discussion by investigating the discursive link and importance Catholic Ultramontanism played in constructing French-Canadian/Franco-American identity on both sides of the Canada/US border. I propose that exploring the 19th century construction of a racialized French-Canadian Catholic identity based on Christian Providence may shed further light into the depth of Laporte’s actions of religious martyrdom in the 20th century.[2]

French-Canadian Predestination

From c.1850 to 1950, Catholic culture was thoroughly dominated by an Ultramontanist discourse, which was an ecclesiastical effort to emphasize the importance of the Catholic Church in countering the perceived ill effects of modern society. For francophones in North America, Ultramontanist ideology became paramount to the socio-political and cultural construction of identity.[3] Their main concern was the survival of French language and culture against the hegemonic forces of a dominant Anglo-Protestant society both in Canada and the US.

In the same period, the province of Quebec was experiencing tremendous demographic and economic transformations. The population had drastically changed with the immigration of French Canadians to the burgeoning industries of New England.[4] Nive Voisine characterized it as “the march of misery and exile”[5] because French Canadians who sought employment abroad were leaving their lands without guarantee of returning. This caused a moral panic for the clergy. The architects of the Ultramontanist Church in Quebec therefore deployed a racialized and exclusivist identity framework along the lines of religion, language, land, occupation, and family. These socio-political ideals were tethered to the belief that ‘French-Canadians’ were predestined by God to be morally righteous missionaries in North America.

One of the most important ideologues for this identity programme was historian cleric Lionel Groulx (1878-1967).[6] In his mind, French-Canadian civilization[7] needed to perpetuate itself by means of a certain ethnic identification. Groulx formed a racial categorization of French Canadians in North America he called la race nouvelle (i.e. the new race)[8] as a projection of Catholic hegemony through (1) an assertion of French Canadian homogeneity, (2) an idealization of piety embodied in the parish and the family, and (3) the notion that patrimony equals land and that one needs to fight to assert his/her nationalism. Groulx saw the perfection of French Canadian identity represented as “service at the altar, service under arms, and the tilling of the soil.”[9] Groulx presented a heroic amalgam of priest and pioneer who were literally able to imbue the land and its people with an inherent Catholic morality. Therefore, the French-Canadian must take his/her place in the moral complex of the symbolic village—which was characterized by clerical guidance, independent and hard work, and the large Catholic family—in order to act in forging a better world. According to Groulx, this is the on-going mission field predestined by God to raise up the righteous Franco-North American civilization.

But the question remains: how does this inform the character of Roger Allen Laporte’s religious action? On one level, it is difficult to assume that it had any influence on his actions, especially in 1965 which saw the great transformation of the Catholic Church shedding the weighty tiara of Ultramontanist ideology. However, there is something important to be stated with the minority standing of the French-Catholic community in the US and especially in New England. In countering the struggles of social, cultural, linguistic, and religious assimilation, this racialized idealization acts to inflate one’s conviction and moral justification at the level of identity. By pointing to the need to perpetuate one’s French identity as an action of Christian Providence is a pretty lofty idea. One that could have had residual affects on a man like Laporte when it came to taking unambiguous political action.

Again, I cannot claim that the Ultramontanist ideals of French-Canadian identity were forefront in Laporte’s mind—a man who sought symbolic resources outside of his faith as a means to political protest. Yet the idea of struggle and action as being an inherently religious paradigm is relevant to Laporte’s case. It is not difficult to imagine that in your bones (i.e. the discursive genealogy of your ethno-cultural identity) lies the tools of moral justification and religious conviction to fight against insurmountable odds (that is, the saliency of a heritage of religious Providence that leads to religious action).

References

Bélanger, Claude. “Lionel Groulx – Histoire Du Québec.” L’Encyclopédie de L’histoire Du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia. Accessed May 5, 2015. http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/encyclopedia/LionelGroulxindex.htm.

Bélanger, Damien-Claude, and Claude Bélanger. “French Canadian Emigration to the United States, 1840-1930 – Readings – Quebec History.” Accessed May 5, 2015. http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/quebechistory/readings/leaving.htm.

Bock, Michel. A Nation Beyond Borders: Lionel Groulx on French-Canadian Minorities. University of Ottawa Press, 2014.

Brault, Gerard J. The French-Canadian Heritage in New England. Canadian Electronic Library. Books Collection. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England ; Kingston Ont, 1986.

Buckner, Phillip A., and R. D. Francis. Canada and the British World Culture, Migration, and Identity. Canadian Electronic Library. Books Collection. Vancouver BC: UBC Press, 2006.

Desjardins, Bertrand. “Le Programme de Recherche en Démographie Historique (The Research Program in Historical Demography) – PRDH-IGD.” Accessed May 5, 2015. http://www.genealogy.umontreal.ca/en/LePrdh.

Gagnon, Serge. Quebec and Its Historians: The Twentieth Century. Canadian Electronic Library. Books Collection. Montreal Harvest House, 1985.

Gareau, Paul L. “Le Providentialisme d’hier à Aujourd’hui : La Construction Idéologique Ultramontaine de L’identité Canadienne-Française dans le Développement de l’Armée de Marie.” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 42, no. 3 (September 1, 2013): 346–63.

Groulx, Lionel. Notre Grande Aventure : L’empire Français en Amérique du Nord (1535-1760). Collection Fleur de lys. Montréal: Fides, 1958.

Lefebvre, Solange. “The Francophone Roman Catholic Church”. In Paul Bramadat and David Seljak (Eds.) Christianity and Ethnicity in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press 2008. 116-153.

Voisine, Nive. Histoire de l’Église Catholique au Québec (1608-1970). Montréal: Éditions Fides, 1971.

[1] It is interesting to note that Laporte is ranked 110th by the PRDH as a popular surname in Quebec. Cf. Desjardins, “Le Programme de Recherche En Démographie Historique (The Research Program in Historical Demography) – PRDH-IGD.”

[2] For a more in-depth discussion on the Ultramontanist construction of a moral geography in Quebec, cf. Gareau, “Le Providentialisme D’hier à Aujourd’hui : La Construction Idéologique Ultramontaine de L’identité Canadienne-Française dans le Développement de l’Armée de Marie.”

[3] Cf. Lefebvre, The Francophone Roman Catholic Church.

[4] This was a drastic demographic change that saw some 900,000 French Canadians immigrating to New England between 1840-1930. Cf. Bélanger and Bélanger, “French Canadian Emigration to the United States, 1840-1930”; Brault, The French-Canadian Heritage in New England; Buckner and Francis, Canada and the British World Culture, Migration, and Identity.

[5] “[La] marche de misère et de l’exile.” Voisine, Histoire de l’Église catholique au Québec (1608-1970), 55.

[6] Cf. for photo credit, Bélanger, “Lionel Groulx – Histoire Du Québec.”

[7] Groulx speaks not only of Quebec but in its broadest terms to include francophones of French-Canadian heritage who have left and are living in New England and all over Canada. For an in-depth analysis, cf. Bock, A Nation Beyond Borders.

[8] Cf. Groulx, Notre grande aventure.

[9] Gagnon, Quebec and Its Historians, 128.

Self-immolation as a religious act: The contested martyrdom of Roger Allen LaPorte, Catholic Worker

 

Millions of people, most of them civilians, were killed in the Vietnam War. Almost 58,000 of the war’s victims were American citizens. While most of the physical and technical conflict took place overseas, political and ideological battles were waged within the United States.

Some of these Americans died, as it were, by their own hand. In 1965, Roger Allen LaPorte, a member of the Catholic Worker, self-immolated in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York City. While LaPorte himself described his act of protest as a specifically religious act, the validity of this description would soon be—and remain—contested, finding opposition among the Catholic hierarchy. The attention of U.S. media gave the contestation of martyrdom a public arena.

In this interview, postdoctoral researcher of U.S. Catholicism, Francesca Cadeddu, shares some of her reflections on LaPorte, whose contested martyrdom by self-immolation is the topic of her present postdoctoral project.

You can also download this interview, and subscribe to receive our weekly podcast, on iTunes. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to rate us. And remember, you can use our Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com, or Amazon.ca links to support us at no additional cost when buying academic texts, pot noodles, very small trains, and more.

Francesca Cadeddu is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Social and Institutional Sciences in Cagliari in Italy. She is also a fellow researcher at the Foundation for Religious Studies in Bologna, Italy. She wrote her PhD dissertation on the Jesuit priest and theologian John Courtney Murray, an important figure in U.S. Catholicism who featured prominently in the development of the the Second Vatican Council’s draft of Dignitatis Humanae (which the interviewer learned is pronounced “humaneh” rather than “hoomanay” shortly before the interview, hence the interviewer’s hesitation).

Having researched at two of the most prominent institutions for Catholic Studies in the U.S., Georgetown and Notre Dame, Cadeddu visited Notre Dame by means of a research grant from Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame in the spring of 2015.