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 06/03/15.

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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, Director of the Women’s Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School
"One of the leading historians of American religion chronicles the joys and travails of one family—her own—experiencing modern U.S. history through a Catholic lens. The result is a major revision of the story of American Catholicism centered on the core of its membership, the female laity. Colleen McDannell uses every tool learned from her numerous studies of material and popular religious cultures to create a finely textured account connecting the lived experience of the faithful in mobile suburban parishes to international debates among the Bishops in Rome. The Spirit of Vatican II is a sweeping synthesis that reads like a novel."

Publishers Weekly
"[A] deeply researched but lively social history that uses the affecting story of [McDannell’s] own mother as the narrative thread…. 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."
 
National Catholic Reporter
"This book’s strength is in its anecdotes that signal how deep Vatican II’s impact has taken root…. [McDannell’s mother] Margaret’s spiritual search is emblematic of women of the Greatest Generation, and it comes alive in this book. So does the history, weaving in the currents of the wider society with what was happening in the church and the family…. McDannell’s social history proves that Vatican II cannot be relegated to a book on a shelf filled with agreeable sayings. We remain children of its legacy, like it or not."
 
Christian Century
"McDannell rightly points out that the Catholic Church is not a monolith…. [Her] telling of the American story is graceful and reveals a sharp eye for detail."

Library Journal
"What sets McDannell’s book apart is her use of her own family history to illustrate the effect of the changes…. Emphasizing the success of Vatican II, McDannell has a feel for the telling facts and incidents that give life to the story of the genuine upheaval in the church from the perspective from the pew. A well-written history of the effects of Vatican II in America both generally and on a particular, representative family, which puts a real face on what could have been an abstract discussion."

Austin American-Statesman
"[McDannell] tells the story of Vatican II through the eyes of her mother, Margaret, and provides a thorough – and much-needed – explanation of the council that helps readers understand the enormous impact it had on the life of the church."

 

U.S. Catholic
"The Spirit of Vatican II urges us to remember what being an American Catholic was like before and during the council, as well as in the decades since. It asks: Who do we want to be as a church going forward?"
 
Catholic World Report

"Well-written…. McDannell’s weaving of the two stories of her mother and the broader church is deft."

 

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