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Dante and the Blessed Virgin is distinguished philosopher Ralph McInerny’s eloquent reading of one of western literature’s most famous works by a Catholic writer. The book provides Catholic readers new to Dante’s The Divine Comedy (or Commedia) with a concise companion volume. McInerny argues that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the key to Dante. She is behind the scenes at the very beginning of the Commedia, and she is found at the end in the magnificent closing cantos of the Paradiso. McInerny also discusses Dante’s Vita Nuova, where Mary is present as the object of the young Beatrice’s devotion. McInerny draws from a diverse group of writers throughout this book, including Plato, Aristotle, St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas, and George Santayana, among others. It is St. Thomas, however, to whom McInerny most often turns, and this book also provides an accessible introduction to Thomistic moral philosophy focusing on the appetites, the ordering of goods, the distinction between the natural and the supernatural orders, the classification of capital vices and virtues, and the nature of the theological virtues. This engagingly written book will serve as a source of inspiration and devotion for anyone approaching Dante’s work for the first time as well as those who value the work of Ralph McInerny.
Theology as Poetry
In Dante's Commedia: Theology as Poetry, an international group of theologians and Dante scholars provide a uniquely rich set of perspectives focused on the relationship between theology and poetry in the Commedia. Examining Dante's treatment of questions of language, personhood, and the body; his engagement with the theological tradition he inherited; and the implications of his work for contemporary theology, the contributors argue for the close intersection of theology and poetry in the text as well as the importance of theology for Dante studies. Through discussion of issues ranging from Dante's use of imagery of the Church to the significance of the smile for his poetic project, the essayists offer convincing evidence that his theology is not what underlies his narrative poem, nor what is contained within it: it is instead fully integrated with its poetic and narrative texture. As the essays demonstrate, the Commedia is firmly rooted in the medieval tradition of reflection on the nature of theological language, while simultaneously presenting its readers with unprecedented, sustained poetic experimentation. Understood in this way, Dante emerges as one of the most original theological voices of the Middle Ages.
New Essays on Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away
Lima and Cuzco, 1532-1670
When the Spanish invaded the Inca empire in 1532, the cult of the ancestors was an essential feature of pre-Columbian religion throughout the Andes. The dead influenced politics, protected the living, symbolized the past, and legitimized claims over the land their descendants occupied, while the living honored the presence of the dead in numerous aspects of daily life. A central purpose of the Spanish missionary endeavor was to suppress the Andean cult of the ancestors and force the indigenous people to adopt their Catholic, legal, and cultural views concerning death. In her book, Gabriela Ramos reveals the extent to which Christianizing death was essential for the conversion of the indigenous population to Catholicism. Ramos argues that understanding the relation between death and conversion in the Andes involves not only considering the obvious attempts to destroy the cult of the dead, but also investigating a range of policies and strategies whose application demanded continuous negotiation between Spaniards and Andeans. Drawing from historical, archaeological, and anthropological research and a wealth of original archival materials, especially the last wills and testaments of indigenous Andeans, Ramos looks at the Christianization of death as it affected the lives of inhabitants of two principal cities of the Peruvian viceroyalty: Lima, the new capital founded on the Pacific coast by the Spanish, and Cuzco, the old capital of the Incas in the Andean highlands. Her study of the wills in particular demonstrates the strategies that Andeans devised to submit to Spanish law and Christian doctrine, preserve bonds of kinship, and cement their place in colonial society.
In Deep Rhythm and the Riddle of Eternal Life, John S. Dunne’s twentieth book, he examines the end of earthly life and the prospect of eternal life. He begins with two questions: Is death an event of life? Is death lived through? If we answer yes to both questions, then we face “the riddle of eternal life.” This book explores that riddle. Dunne finds his answer in the Gospel of John, with its three great metaphors of life, light, and love. Dunne contemplates the meaning of the metaphors in “deep rhythm,” the deep rhythm of rest in the restlessness of the heart. The words of eternal life in the Gospel speak of life and light and love but also of life passing through death, of light passing through darkness, of love passing through loneliness. So, too, Christ, embodying life and light and love, passes through death and darkness and loneliness. This deeply meditative book from one of our most gifted spiritual writers and teachers will offer consolation to those at the end of life as well as hope for all readers who contemplate eternal life.
Ovidian Romance and the Cult of Form
Gregory Heyworth’s Desiring Bodies considers the physical body and its relationship to poetic and corporate bodies in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Beginning in the odd contest between body and form in the first sentence of Ovid’s protean Metamorphoses, Heyworth identifies these concepts as structuring principles of civic and poetic unity and pursues their consequences as refracted through a series of romances, some typical of the genre, some problematically so. Bodies, in Ovidian romance, are the objects of human desire to possess, to recover, to form, or to violate. Part 1 examines this desire as both a literal and socio-political phenomenon through readings of Marie de France’s Lais, Chrétien de Troyes’ Cligès and Perceval, and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, texts variously expressing social, economic, and political culture in romance. In part 2, Heyworth is concerned with missing or absent bodies in Petrarch’s Rime sparse, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and Milton’s Paradise Lost and the generic rupture they cause in lyric, tragedy, and epic. Throughout, Heyworth draws on social theorists such as Kant, Weber, Simmel, and Elias to explore the connection between social and literary form. The first comparative, diachronic study of romance form in many years, Desiring Bodies is a persuasive and important cultural history that demonstrates Ovid’s pervasive influence not only on the poetics but on the politics of the medieval and early modern Western tradition.
Intrigue, Betrayal, and Survival in Venezuela, 1908-1935
Dictatorship and Politics presents the first major study of General Juan Vicente Gómez’s regime in Venezuela from 1908 to 1935 and the efforts of Gómez’s enemies to overthrow him during his twenty-seven years in power. In this reappraisal of the Gómez regime, Brian S. McBeth demonstrates that Gómez’s success in withstanding opponents’ attacks was not only the result of his political acumen and ruthless methods of oppression. The political disagreements, personal rivalries, financial difficulties, occasional harassment by foreign powers, and at times plain bad luck of his opponents, usually in exile, were important contributing factors in the failure of their plots to overthrow him. In examining the opposition to the Gómez dictatorship, McBeth also intentionally removes the politics of oil from the center stage of the regime’s foreign relations and instead focuses on the tolerance and intolerance by foreign governments of the exiles’ activities. This monumental work of scholarship encompasses political correspondence, personal memoirs, newspapers, British and U.S. sources, and various public and private archives in Venezuela. Historians, as well as political scientists working on themes related to dictatorships and opposition, will find the book of interest.
“Marilyn Krysl's astonishing Dinner with Osama somehow finds the intersection between deep anguish at the state of the world and brilliant, caustic, and hilarious sociopolitical satire of America post-9/11. Its effrontery is peculiarly female, its fierce intelligence that of a mother—or even (‘Are We Dwelling Deep Yet?’) a Great Mother—who needs to save and feed the world however she can. Its north and south must be ‘Mitosis,’ Krysl's heartbreaking life history of a young Dinka woman whose way of life, and source of food, have been destroyed by civil war in Sudan; its east and west is surely the title story, in the voice of a politically irreproachable matriarch of Boulder, Colorado, who does her part by extending a dinner invitation to Osama—yes, that Osama—through her ‘pal’ Abdullah at the local gyros stand; and Osama not only receives it, he accepts. Israelis and Palestinians, ‘conflict’-addicted cliché-mongers of the creative writing workshop, violent extremists of every stripe, and above all the wealthy consumerist left are all skewered in this miraculous collection.” —Jaimy Gordon, author of Bogeywoman and She Drove Without Stopping
Religion and Conflict in Neoliberal Africa
In colonial Africa, Christianity has often supported, sustained, and legitimated a violent process of governance. More recently, however, following decades of violence and oppression, churches and religious organizations have mobilized African publics against corrupt and abusive regimes and facilitated new forms of reconciliation and cooperation. It is the purpose of Displacing the State: Religion and Conflict in Neoliberal Africa to illustrate the nature of religion’s ambivalent power in Africa while suggesting new directions in the study of religion, conflict, and peace studies, with a specific focus on sub-Saharan Africa. As the editors make clear, most of the literature on conflict and peacebuilding in Africa has been concerned with dramatic conflicts such as genocide and war. In these studies, “conflict” usually means a violent clash between parties with opposing interests, while “peace” implies reconciliation and cooperation between these parties, usually with a view to achieving a social order predicated on the idea of the sovereign national state whose hegemony is viewed as normative. The contributors argue that this perspective is inadequate for understanding the nature, depth, and persistence of conflict in Africa. In contrast, the chapters in this volume adopt an ethnographic approach, often focusing on mundane manifestations of both conflict and peace, and in so doing draw attention to the ambiguities and ambivalences of conflict and peace in everyday life. Displacing the State makes two important contributions to the study of religion, conflict, and peacebuilding. First, it shows how peace is conceptualized and negotiated in daily life, often in ways that are counterintuitive and anything but peaceful. Second, the volume uses African case studies to confront assumptions about the nature of the relationships among religion, conflict, and peace.