The Spirit of Vatican II: A History of Catholic Reform in America  -     By: Colleen McDannell
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The Spirit of Vatican II: A History of Catholic Reform in America

Basic Books / 2011 / Hardcover

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Product Description

Nearly a half century after the Second Vatican Council, a leading religious historian examines the transformed lives of of American Catholics and shows that reform has made their church stronger than ever. Using the story of her Catholic mother's life as a narrative, McDannell presents a refreshingly positive portayal of the state of modern Catholicism. 352 pages; hardcover.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 336
Vendor: Basic Books
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 9.30 X 6.20 (inches)
ISBN: 0465044808
ISBN-13: 9780465044801
Availability: Expected to ship on or about 06/27/15.

Publisher's Description

In 1962 a group of Catholic leaders traveled to Rome, charged by Pope John XXIII with the task of making the gospel of Christ relevant in a modern world. The Second Vatican Council transformed the lives of Catholics through sweeping reforms--yet its effect on the daily lives of practicing Catholics has never been fully understood.

In this illuminating study, religious historian Colleen McDannell presents new insight into Vatican II by shifting the framework of its analysis: from men to women, from urban to suburban, from theory to practice. Using the story of her Catholic mother's life as a narrative thread, McDannell presents in The Spirit of Vatican II a refreshingly positive portrayal of the state of modern Catholicism--and a testament to the lasting effects of its liberalization.

Author Bio

Colleen McDannell is a Professor of History and Sterling M. McMurring Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Utah. Her books include Heaven: A History and Picturing Faith: Photography and the Great Depression. She lives in Salt Lake City.

Publisher's Weekly

With the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) approaching, debates are flaring over just what happened at what was a signature event of the 20th century for both the Catholic Church and the world. The current debate is a struggle to define the meaning of the past and thus chart the church's course in the future. But McDannell (Heaven: A History) shifts the spotlight from Rome to America, covering the impact of the council and its reforms there in deeply researched but lively social history that uses the affecting story of her own mother as the narrative thread. McDannell sketches the state of American Catholicism on the eve of the council, during those fateful three years, and then in the turbulent aftermath when Catholics struggled to assimilate the changes. Finally, she looks at what the council has wrought and is buoyed by the transformation. This is indispensable history for today's Catholics--and others--to learn, and McDannell has told the tale well and with a depth and context that places the council in time and space, but also acknowledges a conciliar spirit that blows where it will. (Mar.) Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.

Editorial Reviews

Peter Steinfels, Co-director of the Fordham University Center on Religion and Culture and author of A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America
“Colleen McDannell offers readers a wonderful blend of macro-history and micro-history.   Her remarkably comprehensive and completely accessible account of the Second Vatican Council and the changes it wrought in American Catholic life takes an original tack in weaving these changes around the experiences of Catholic women and of several generations of her own family.”

Chester Gillis, Professor of Theology at Georgetown University and author of Roman Catholicism in America
“Written in an inviting and accessible style, McDannell’s work captures the important movements in the church and American society that preceded (and prepared the way for) Vatican II, the details of the Council, and its unique effects on various parishes. The book underscores the contributions of women whose roles may not have been as public as those of male clerics but which were influential at the local level. Catholics who lived this era will recognize the history and younger generations will learn the nuances of the history that has shaped contemporary religious experience.”

Leigh E. Schmidt, Charles Warren Professor of American Religious History at Harvard University
“Part social history, part family memoir, Colleen McDannell’s The Spirit of Vatican II beautifully evokes the dramatic transformation of Catholicism in the middle decades of the twentieth century. The way she entwines her stories of family and church is a breath of fresh air all its own.”

Mark Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame
“Colleen McDannell has done a superb job interweaving the high level unfolding of the Second Vatican Council and the ground level effects of Vatican II on her parents’ own Catholic experience. The book is an outstanding example of analysis joined with empathy, the Big Picture balanced by the intimate portrait, the detached observation meeting the involved participant. With prose of unusual clarity McDannell breathes unusual life into what has been far and away the most important event of recent Catholic history.”

Robert Orsi, Professor of Religious Studies and History and G. Craddock Nagle Chair in Catholic Studies at Northwestern University and author of Thank You, Saint Jude: Women’s Devotions to the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes
“A vividly described and richly detailed history of American Catholic lives in the thrilling, challenging era of ‘Vatican II.’ In a way that only she can do, Colleen McDannell’s story ranges from a gripping account of the unfolding work of the Council fathers to how a young wife and mother—her own mother, whose life is the heart of this book—experienced the times. McDannell brings readers very close to what these times felt like to Catholics, especially Catholic women, in their changing church and in the changed world around them, and she makes clear women’s central role in enacting the spirit of the Council in their parishes and schools. Colleen McDannell is a great historian and The Spirit of Vatican II is a masterwork.”

Judith Weisenfeld, Professor of Religion at Princeton University
“In this engaging and compelling text McDannell uses her mother’s story to trace the impact of Vatican II’s reforms on the everyday lives of American Catholics. Through the lens of family history we come to understand not only the theological, liturgical, and cultural changes the Council set in motion, but gain insight into broader issues such as immigration, family history, gender, class, region, and popular culture. McDannell’s accessible narrative makes important contributions to the history of religion in America.”

Ann Braude, D

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