The Cursillo Movement in America

1 Nov

Protestants learning from Catholics? A European lay movement infusing religious vitality throughout major sectors of the United States? Cursillo connected to Evangelicalism? History and ethnography complementing each other as methods?

Kristy Nabhan-Warren, religious studies faculty at the University of Iowa, has written what sounds to be a fascinating book, The Cursillo Movement in America. In an interview for the blog Religion in American History, she raises all sorts of interesting points, such as the following:

Before I got into Catholic Studies, I was really studying nineteenth-century Protestants, but I became really tired of how everything goes back to the Second Great Awakening or Jonathan Edwards. I\’m weary of that paradigm, the assumption that anything that is interesting and everything that has an evangelical flavor or fervor somehow goes back to Puritans, post-Puritans, and neo-Puritans…One of the problems with this pervasive Protestant narrative is that nothing originates with Catholics. Actually, this movement originated with Spanish Catholics as well as U.S. Catholics…This also presented an opportunity to convince my readers of the centrality of Latinos to such an important strand of Christian spirituality. They were the ones that originally popularized the movement in the Southwest – Anglo-Catholics picked up on what was going on, but Mexican-American Catholics in the Southwest were the first ones to make the weekend. So I think what I tried to do with this project is to show the centrality of Latinos, to bring the more to the center of the conversation rather than at the periphery.

You can read the entire interview here: Religion in American History: The Cursillo Movement in America.


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