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Canadian Review of American Studies
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- The Madonna of 115th Street!
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Start on. Show related SlideShares at end. WordPress Shortcode. No opiates here. Human pain, exploitation, doubt, struggle, abandonment, suffering, gore, and death define the religion therein. In this, Orsi stands beside his religious subjects, scared, ambivalent, sad.
No joyous numinous. No ecstasy. So quotidian.
Italian Harlem's Madonna | Books and Culture
But so rich with social and otherworldly implication. This is not a book about religious people getting what they want. Nor is it a book about religious people getting relief from their all-too-human circumstances.
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But perhaps therein lies the strange beauty of this work. For Orsi, we must see the sacred in order to analyze it.
We, as scholars, must first accept the reality of the sacred in order to fathom the depths of our religious subjects. Orsi has long established himself as a thought leader in religious studies and the related disciplines of anthropology, American studies, and history. We are asked to think long and hard about how people live and define religion and about what our role is as scholars of religion. It is an ambitious book that challenges us, cajoles us, and forces us to think and rethink what we thought we knew about religion and about how to study and write about religion.
By beautiful I mean that it is quintessentially Orsi, a lovingly and painstakingly crafted work of scholarship that is a literary art form. This is a book that is not either history or anthropology; it is both. It is a new, hybrid way of studying and writing about religion. So too should our theories and approaches to writing be hybridized, syncretic in style and form.
Orsi exposes the multiple ways the modern academic study of religion, crafted by Protestant scholars who were inheritors of Reformation as well as Enlightenment-infused thought, has misrepresented religion and the people who make it. In other words, modern critical theory has stripped much of the life out of religion and it is the task of scholars of religion today to make this right. Orsi demonstrates just how ethnography and ethnographic thinking complements history as much as history complements ethnography.
We are able to see, to be witnesses to the benefits of a cross-disciplinary, mixed methodological approach to researching and writing about religion. Syracuse University. Oxford Academic. Google Scholar. Cite Citation.
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