"One of the greatest sources of violence in modern history has been the question of what Jesus meant when he told his disciples at the Last Supper to eat the bread of his body and drink the wine of his blood and to do so always in remembrance of him. It erupted in Europe in the sixteenth century and was carried around the globe by colonizers, missionaries, explorers, and scholars. In its opening chapters, History and Presence examines the power of this question in modernity, arguing that it shaped how religion itself as the object of critical scholarly inquiry came to be understood. The experience of the gods really present was consigned to the premodern, first in the figure of the Catholic, then elaborated as the heuristic for the religions of "primitives," dark-skinned people, women, children, the poor, both in the metropolitan centers of an ever-changing Europe and in its colonies. The distinction between those who live with the gods really present and others who do not retains broad normative force even today, evident, for example, in hierarchical models of psychological health and human maturity. Orsi goes on to ask what if the gods were restored to 'religion'? Using case studies drawn from Catholic devotional practices Orsi examines the relationships men and women form with supernatural beings and the consequences of these bonds for everyday life."--Provided by publisher.