Friday, August 21, 2009

Wlodimir Ledochowski's Anti-Modernism & Militant 'Marianism'

From Amazon Customer Reviews:

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
4.0 out of 5 stars Militant Marianism: Mary as Church defender, May 27, 2006
The provocative title of this academic study makes the book sound more controversial or biased than it is. Mariolatry in its various forms is exhaustively surveyed from the early Church on. Most of the study's focused upon the last couple of centuries, as they have seen the rise in claimed apparitions and revelations accompanied by mass media--as opposed to pilgrim-centered or clerically propagandized methods--publicity and dissemination. Perry and co-author Loreto Echevarria argue that this rise in "militant Marianism" can be tied to a largely right-wing backlash against modernity and liberalization. They chart the rise of Mary and that of repressive regimes in the West and the colonial world, and how Marian intercessions are employed as weapons in the Cold War and the campaigns against socialism, liberation theology, and secularization.

The book's very well documented, with hundreds of sources. The authors, especially in the rather too densely compressed and massively compiled narrative of the earlier chapters that review the early and medieval Church and Marian movements and doctrines, tend to favor too often the "two-dollar" fancy adjectives and esoteric vocabulary, that, although correctly used, tends to draw attention too much to the prose style rather than better illuminating the content. My rating is between 3 and 4 stars, but I round it up for effort, although content's often buried under much research but not enough interpretation.

A grounding in Church history and theology is necessary to grasp this book, as a beginner may be overwhelmed by the contexts explored meticulously that in previous centuries prepared the way for modern acceptance of the Immaculate Conception, papal infallibility (the authors astutely note how the "ex cathedra" fudge recently used to counter critics of this assertion does have itself a loophole that allows infallibity a wider realm of territory than is publicized by contemporary apologists for the Church), and Catholic alliances with strong-arm dictators recruited to defend Western capitalism against Communist subversion.

As this book was published in 1988, just prior to the Soviet collapse, the Cold War theory would be intriguing to follow since in how those proponents of Fatima would react to the post-1989 scenarios that have unfolded--do these "prove" visionaries' claims, or are these warnings of apocalypse still heeded as portents that may come to pass? Back to the study, more in-depth investigation, in my reading of this book, is needed for the authors to support their militant Marian thesis. The details, on the other hand, are pretty much included, but their relation to the larger argument and political-clerical intrigue needs a bit more follow-through. The study so abundantly collects Marian data in its earlier chapters that by the time individual visions and movements are discussed, the book staggers along simply keeping up with so much amassed evidence, and the energy that could have been spent on analysis seems less than I would have expected.

Still, a satisfying starting-place for interested scholars and educated readers, and those wanting to find out how Opus Dei intersects with its Spanish falangist roots and papal affirmation can find out valuable references and overviews here. For more accessible accounts (both also rated by me) on Medjugorge and related claims of 1980s/90s era visions, Randall Sullivan's badly proofread but stimulating "The Miracle Detective." (2004) For another scholar's survey of modern apparitions from a more phenomenological viewpoint, Sandra Zimdars-Swartz, "Encountering Mary"--whose notes led me to "Under the Heel." (published 1992 but seems to go only up to circa 1988 in text.)


avles said...

Our Lady of Međugorje

"Trieste with the POPE"

("....But before to see the front face of the townhall, look at the right side of the tower, on the Karst higland border, what is this little strange building?.....It is the National Temple dedicated to the Queen Mary Mother.....)

Douglas Andrew Willinger said...

I see that church with that symbol of the 'back and to the left' terror: