Becoming Catholic: Finding Rome in the American Religious Landscape  -     By: David Yamane
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Becoming Catholic: Finding Rome in the American Religious Landscape

Oxford University Press / 2014 / Hardcover

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Product Description

* The first significant study of Roman Catholic converts in contemporary America. Drawing on years of fieldwork and more than 200 personal interviews, Yamane follows prospective Catholics though four distinct periods of spiritual formation punctuated by the ritual transitions outlined in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. 256 pages, hardcover from Oxford University.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 256
Vendor: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2014
Dimensions: 9.25 X 6.13 (inches)
ISBN: 019996498X
ISBN-13: 9780199964987

Publisher's Description

Conversion has been an essential element of Christianity, and especially of Roman Catholicism, for centuries--from the Apostle Paul's dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus to the spiritual transformations of such prominent modern individuals as Cardinal Newman, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Thomas Merton, and G.K. Chesterton. In a 1926 essay, Chesterton expressed reluctance to describe his conversion, on account of "a strong feeling that this method makes the business look much smaller than it really is."

As David Yamane shows in Becoming Catholic, the business was not only spiritually but literally very large, and growing ever larger: roughly 150,000 Americans join the Catholic Church each year, and more than one in fifty American adults is a Catholic convert. Altogether, these 5.85 million individuals are the fifth-largest religious group in America. In this first significant study of the phenomenon of Roman Catholic conversion in the contemporary United States, Yamane provides an in-depth look at the process of adult initiation in the twenty-first century Catholic Church, including the new process of spiritual formation--called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)--that was ushered in by Vatican II. The RCIA process, which has become an integral part of Catholic parish life, takes individuals on a journey through four distinct, formative periods, punctuated by elaborate ritual transitions, before they are finally baptized at Easter.

Drawing on years of observational fieldwork and candid interviews with more than 200 individuals undergoing the initiation process, Yamane follows would-be Catholics through all four stages of the RCIA and offers an incisive new perspective on what it means to choose Catholicism in America today.

Author Bio


David Yamane teaches sociology at Wake Forest University. His primary scholarly interest is the sociology of organized religion, particularly Roman Catholicism in the postwar United States. His publications include The Catholic Church in State Politics: Negotiating Prophetic Demands and Political Realities (2005), Real Stories of Christian Initiation: Lessons for and from the RCIA (2006), and Religion in Sociological Perspective (2011).

Editorial Reviews


"A much-needed empirical contribution to the sociological literature broadly on rites of initiation, and narrowly on the process of RCIA."--Catholic Books Review


"This book is well-written and informative. It effectively balances data with rich human detail through vignettes of particular people going through the process."--Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion


"David Yamane makes a convincing case that...life changes and the institutional ritual processes designed to engender them are worth our attention."--American Journal of Sociology


"Yamane wrote Becoming Catholic as a sociologist, but his style is accessible to any interested reader and might well be required reading for anyone active in a parish RCIA program. Becoming Catholic is informative concerning the RCIA. But any Catholic can benefit from reading it because it encourages a renewed appreciation and sense of gratitude for being Catholic." --Catholic News Service


"[Yamane] asserts that this project--which gives a thorough overview and analysis of the RCIA process throughout--is merely a 'case study' of six parishes in Indiana, yet anyone who picks up this book will see that the work he accomplished is rather extensive."
--Publishers Weekly


"Why do people join the Catholic church? How do they enter? Why do they stay? Do they stay at all? David Yamane's excellent new book offers a clear-eyed look at the process of initiation into the Catholic Church in the U.S. and sheds light on what many observers term the most successful of the Second Vatican Council's reforms: the reinvigoration of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). Yamane's is the rare book that is superbly researched, well-written, and, above all, acutely sensitive to the spiritual experiences of those under scrutiny. It deserves to be read by every bishop, priest, brother, sister, and director of religious education in the United States. In fact, it deserves to be read by every American Catholic." --James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage


"David Yamane breaks new ground topically and methodologically in this study of a modern western initiation rite 'as it is lived.' His data from fieldwork on the RCIA is rich and often surprising; his analyses keep reinventing sociological categories, while adding insights from history, educational theory, and comparative religion. Not least, Yamane writes with flair and dispassion. It is a delightful read. Becoming Catholic is a model of multidisciplinary scholarship on U.S. Roman Catholicism, and thus has wide applicability to a range of intellectual issues in the study of American religion." --Julie Byrne, Monsignor Thomas J. Hartman Chair in Catholic Studies, Hofstra University


"David Yamane has fashioned a study of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) from careful observation, relentless insight, and engaging narrative. This exemplary book should be read by students of American Catholicism and, more generally, by those who appreciate good sociological craftsmanship." ---Jerome P. Baggett, author of Sense of the Faithful: How American Catholics Live Their Faith


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