Heaven Can Wait: Purgatory in Catholic Devotional and Popular Culture

Hardcover | December 4, 2014

byDiana Walsh Pasulka

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After purgatory was officially defined by the Catholic Church in the thirteenth century, its location became a topic of heated debate and philosophical speculation: Was purgatory located on the earth, or within it? Were its fires real or figurative? Diana Walsh Pasulka offers a groundbreaking historical exploration of spatial and material concepts of purgatory, beginning with scholastic theologians William of Auvergne and Thomas Aquinas, who wrote about the location of purgatory and questioned whether its torments were physical or solelyspiritual. In the same period, writers of devotional literature located purgatory within the earth, near hell, and even in Ireland. In the early modern era, a counter-movement of theologians downplayed purgatory's spatial dimensions, preferring to depict it in abstract terms - a view strengthenedduring the French Enlightenment, when references to purgatory as a terrestrial location or a place of real fire were ridiculed by anti-Catholic polemicists and discouraged by the Church. The debate surrounding purgatory's materiality has never ended: even today members of post-millennial 'purgatory apostolates' maintain that purgatory is an actual, physical place. Heaven Can Wait provides crucial insight into the theological problem of purgatory's materiality (or lack thereof)over the past seven hundred years.

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After purgatory was officially defined by the Catholic Church in the thirteenth century, its location became a topic of heated debate and philosophical speculation: Was purgatory located on the earth, or within it? Were its fires real or figurative? Diana Walsh Pasulka offers a groundbreaking historical exploration of spatial and mater...

Diana Walsh Pasulka earned her B.A. degree from the University of California at Davis, her M.A. from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Syracuse University. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and has...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 9.21 × 6.3 × 1.1 inPublished:December 4, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195382021

ISBN - 13:9780195382020

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: The Problem with Purgatory1. When Purgatory Was a Place on Earth: The Purgatory Cave on the Red Lake in Ireland2. Lough Derg: Moving Purgatory Off the Earth3. Exile from Ireland: Bishop John England's Republican Apologetics of Purgatory4. That Sensible Neighborhood to Hell: Providence and Materiality within the Periodical (1830-1920)5. The Ghosts of Vatican II: Purgatory Apostolates and the Lexicon of the SupernaturalConclusionNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

Heaven Can Wait is a lively exploration of the history of purgatory in Catholic doctrine and devotion. Pasulka covers a wide range of purgatory lore, from traditional to modernist, elite to popular, edifying to merely curious. Her major concern is the fate of purgatory in American Catholicism,and to that end she uncovers little-known material about the purgatory apostolates (featuring devotion to the holy souls) that have played an important part in Catholic life. Pasulka proves that purgatory is alive and well, having survived -- with significant adaptations -- the successiveconvulsions of early modern and modern Catholic life." --Carol Zaleski, Professor of World Religions, Smith College