cover image The Catholic Imagination

The Catholic Imagination

Andrew M. Greeley. University of California Press, $35 (213pp) ISBN 978-0-520-22085-0

Readers familiar with Greeley's previous nonfiction works will find this extended essay a variation on a familiar theme. Greeley--a Catholic priest, sociologist and novelist who teaches at the University of Chicago and the University of Arizona--posits that Catholicism creates an imaginative worldview that finds grace ""lurking everywhere,"" from the city streets to the landscape to the bedroom. It is a worldview that pervades Greeley's many novels. Here, Greeley draws on art, literature, music and films produced by Catholics, ranging from the Baroque sculptures of Bernini to the contemporary fiction of James T. Farrell. He also draws on his own research to illustrate what he calls an ""enchanted imagination,"" a sensibility Greeley attributes to Catholicism's emphasis on God's immanence, as opposed to Protestantism's focus on God's transcendence. This book's principles reiterate Greeley's previous books and articles on Catholic myth and imagination, including several that seem less hurriedly composed. Protestants may be put off by some of his comparisons (for example, ""Catholics are more interested in the fine arts than Protestants"" and ""Catholics tend to picture society as supportive and not oppressive, while Protestants tend to picture society as oppressive and not supportive""). Imperfections aside, Greeley devotees may enjoy following him over this terrain again, possibly collecting references to artistic works for follow-up. (Mar.)