Synopses & Reviews
"What ever happened to the American Jesuits? Though ex-Jesuits now outnumber Jesuits, the order is still around, still a force in American Catholic life. I cannot imagine its corporate identity receiving a more thorough or a more subtle profile than it receives in this book."and#151;Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography
"An excellent case study of a declining religious organizationand#151;exploring the multitude of reasons for this decline. Peter McDonough and Eugene Bianchi give a superb account of the organizational, ideological, and psychological changes facing the Jesuits. Scholars and students will learn much from this work. So too will the multitudes of Catholics whose lives have been touched by the dedicated and talented men who affix 'SJ' to their names."and#151;Patricia Wittberg, S.C., author of The Rise and Fall of Catholic Religious Orders
"This is a work of astonishing depth. McDonough and Bianchi are masterful tellers of the Jesuit tale, [which is] equally subtle, startling, and profound. You'll catch yourself wholly engrossed...."and#151;James T. Fisher, author of Catholics in America
"Passionate Uncertainty is a powerful book, tough but required reading for Jesuits and former Jesuits, for those curious about the future of religious life and those simply intrigued by the Jesuit mystique. Reliance on numerous interviews enables McDonough and Bianchi to invite multiple voices into a lively conversation about vocation and mission, community and sexuality, Church politics and spiritual ideals. Few will agree with all the memories or predictions recorded here, and some of us will wonder whether the Jesuit future is as uncertain as the authors suggest. But none will regret pondering the changing identity of the Jesuits so vividly highlighted here."and#151;Francis X. Clooney, SJ, author of Hindu God, Christian God: How Reason Helps Faith to Cross the Boundaries between Religions
Founded by Ignatius Loyola in 1540, the Society of Jesus remains the largest and most controversial religious order of men in Catholicism. Since the 1960s, however, Jesuits in the United States have lost more than half of their members, and they have experienced a massive upheaval in what they believe and how they work and live. In this groundbreaking book, Peter McDonough and Eugene C. Bianchi draw on interviews and statements gathered from more than four hundred Jesuits and former Jesuits to provide an intimate look at turmoil among Catholicism's legendary best-and-brightest.
Priests and former priests speak candidly about their reasons for joining (and leaving) the Jesuits, about their sexual development and orientation, about their spiritual crises and their engagement with other religious traditions. They discuss issues ranging from celibacy to the ordination of women, homosexuality, the rationale of the priesthood, the challenges of community life, and the divinity of Jesus.
Passionate Uncertainty traces the transformation of the Society of Jesus from a fairly unified organization into a smaller, looser community with disparate goals and an elusive corporate identity. From its role as a traditional subculture during the days of immigrant Catholicism, the order has changed into an amalgam of countercultures shaped around social mission, sexual identity, and an eclectic spirituality. The story of the Jesuits reflects the crisis of clerical authority and the deep ambivalence surrounding American Catholicism's encounter with modernity.
About the Author
Peter McDonough is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Arizona State University. He is author of Men Astutely Trained: A History of the Jesuits in the American Century (1992) and Power and Ideology in Brazil (1981) and coauthor of The Cultural Dynamics of Democratization in Spain (1998). Eugene C. Bianchi is Professor Emeritus of Religion at Emory University. He is author of Elder Wisdom: Crafting Your Own Elderhood (1994) and coeditor of A Democratic Catholic Church (1992).
Table of Contents
Prologue: Diversity without Democracy
1. Staying and Leaving
2. Becoming a Jesuit
3. From Innocence to Experience
4. Sex, Celibacy, and Identity
5. Ignatian Spiritualities
6. Eclecticism and Commitment
7. Life in Community
8. Ministry and the Meaning of Priesthood
9. Revitalizing the Schools
10. Organizational Dilemmas, Symbolic Conflicts, Structural Problems
11. Low-Profile Politics
Epilogue: Evening's Empire
Notes on Methodology
List of Figures and Tables