Northern Illinois University Press

Saving the Heartland

Catholic Missionaries in Rural America

Jeffrey Marlett

"Marlett's well-written book throws new light on religious life and Catholic tactics in the great Midwest."—Choice

"Original and creative."—Steven Avella, Marquette University

"A helpful contribution to Catholic historical scholarship."—Catholic Historical Review

The Catholic Rural Life Movement of the mid-twentieth century worked to safeguard the future of both farming and faith as its "motor missions" traveled to the heartland, adapting liturgical traditions to rural conditions. The Catholic missionaries joined with other groups, both religious and secular, to improve American farming practices after the "dust bowl" crisis. Simultaneously responding to a perceived crisis of belief, they worked to save the faith from modernist doctrines and to gain rural converts to a religious practice that was associated mainly with urban immigrants. Saving the Heartland explores the process by which rural Catholicism finally won recognition as a religious subculture in need of its own devotions, celebrations, and publications.

(2002) 245 pp., illus.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-291-6
cloth $44.00

Jeffrey Marlett is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Catholic Rural Life?
1. Fertile Land and Fertile Souls: The Catholic Rural Life Movement and Its Antiurban Theology
2. Catholic Colonization Projects in Rural America
3. Part of the Scenery: Catholic Experiences in Rural America
4. Muddy Roads and Rolling Stones: Catholic Motor Missions
Conclusion: The Wheat and Chaff of Catholic Agrarianism

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-291-6
cloth $44.00