Faith and Fatherland: Catholicism, Modernity, and Poland

Overview

Jesus instructed his followers to "love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you" (Luke 6:27-28). Not only has this theme long been among the Church's most oft-repeated messages, but in everything from sermons to articles in the Catholic press, it has been consistently emphasized that the commandment extends to all humanity. Given this, the history of the Church in the 20th century presents a puzzle, because on numerous occasions Catholics have ...

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Overview

Jesus instructed his followers to "love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you" (Luke 6:27-28). Not only has this theme long been among the Church's most oft-repeated messages, but in everything from sermons to articles in the Catholic press, it has been consistently emphasized that the commandment extends to all humanity. Given this, the history of the Church in the 20th century presents a puzzle, because on numerous occasions Catholics have established alliances with nationalist groups promoting ethnic exclusivity, antisemitism, and the use of any means necessary in an imagined "struggle for survival." While some might describe this as mere hypocrisy, Faith and Fatherland attempts to explain precisely how Catholicism and nationalism have been blended together. Poland, a country where religious and national identity would seem to correspond so closely, is an ideal site for exploring this issue. It is usually taken for granted that Poland is a Catholic nation, but in fact the country's apparent homogeneity is a relatively recent development, supported as much by ideology as demography. To fully contextualize the fusion between faith and fatherland, each chapter of this book explores a keyword in modern Polish Catholic rhetoric (concepts like sin, the Church, the nation, and the Virgin Mary), ultimately showing how these ideas were assembled to create a powerful but hotly contested form of religious nationalism. By no means was this outcome inevitable, and it certainly did not constitute the only way of being Catholic in modern Poland. Nonetheless, the Church's ongoing struggle to find a place within an increasingly secular European modernity made this ideological formation both possible and (for all too many Catholics) appealing.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A bold contribution... this meticulously researched, highly compelling narrative offers a more powerful reassessment than can be discussed in a single brief review. It is a rich treasure trove of insights on Catholic thinking and an important contribution to Polish nationalism studies. Faith and Fatherland is sure to become a classic in the field, and Brian Porter-Szucs should be congratulated on his achievement." —The Journal of Modern History

"A major book about a truly significant topic. While its relevance is most directly applicable to Polish studies or histories of Roman Catholicism, the book would be useful for scholars of other world religions, political movements, and religiously motivated groups. Cognizant that the outworn secularization narrative of modernity has failed to account for the abundant evidence of modern religious thought, identification, and practice, we should welcome such insightful, thorough, and compelling studies of religion (and nationalism) as Faith and Fatherland." —Journal of World History

"Impressive and insightful." —American Historical Review

"Faith and Fatherland is recommended for both Poles and non-Poles who want a fresh perspective on the role of a church that has never been synonymous with the Polish state." —Conscience

"This is an ambitious monograph in Catholic intellectual history. Its thoroughly researched chapters on central terms and concepts largely succeed at illuminating the evolution of the specific profile of and the diversity inherent to Polish Catholicism. Its findings can contribute to a better understanding of modern Polish history and deserve to be widely read, discussed and debated." —Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung

"Roman Catholicism has long been a central element of Polish national identity, so that in Polish Catholicism, national ideals have become intertwined with Christian values and national identity has often taken precedence over universal principles. This passionately written, fascinating, and well-researched book is an account of the way Catholicism has shaped the Polish identity over the past one hundred and fifty years. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of East-Central Europe and in the relationship of religion to politics in recent times."-Antony Polonsky, Brandeis University

"Faith and Fatherland is far and away the best recent study of modern Polish Catholicism in English. Covering two hundred years and drawing on a vast array of Polish sources, Brian Porter-Szucs traces the clergy's ambivalent and varied relationships with the nationalist movement, with secular anti-Semitism, and with the communist regime-but he also offers subtle explications of theological and doctrinal developments. This book highlights the complexities of church-state relations in the modern era, and provides a much fuller understanding of relationships between modernizing processes and Europe's religious life and thought in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries."-Suzanne Marchand, Louisiana State University

"No other work probes so deeply the history of religion in East Central Europe- indeed, perhaps in all of Europe-in the modern period. Throughout Porter-Szucs makes complex theology not only accessible but vitally important for understanding larger historical processes. This is a history of Poland told through Catholicism that makes clear that neither can be understood independent of the other."-John Connelly, University of California, Berkeley

"This is an ambitious monograph in Catholic intellectual history. Its thoroughly researched chapters on central terms and concepts largely succeed at illuminating the evolution of the specific profile of and the diversity inherent to Polish Catholicism. Its findings can contribute to a better understanding of modern Polish history and deserve to be widely read, discussed and debated."— Ferenc Laczó, Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung

"The mutation of Porter-Szûcs's discourse analysis into intellectual history in the middle of this very impressive endeavor poses a central question to the field. Should east European history continue to build national frameworks, applying to them theoretical approaches familiar from west European history? Or should east European history address events that transcend the nation, such as the Holocaust, and in so doing seek to transcend those national frameworks? Porter-Szûcs's book delivers excellent examples of both approaches, and perhaps an answer to this question."—Slavic Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195399059
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 6/3/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Brian Porter-Szûcsis Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He is the author of When Nationalism Began to Hate: Imagining Modern Politics in Nineteenth-Century Poland (OUP, 2000), which won the Oskar Halecki Award of the Polish Institute for Arts and Sciences in America and the Polish Studies Association Award, and co-editor of Christianity and Modernity in Eastern Europe.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Ch. 1 The Church
Ch. 2: Sin
Ch. 3: Modernity
Ch. 4: The Person and Society
Ch. 5: Politics
Ch. 6: The Nation Penitent
Ch. 7: Ecclesia Militans
Ch. 8: The Jew
Ch. 9: Polak-Katolik
Ch. 10: Mary, Militant and Maternal
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography

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