Joseph Laycock, "The Seer of Bayside: Veronica Lueken and the Struggle to Define Catholicism" (Oxford UP, 2014)


In understanding a tradition what is the relationship between the 'center' and the 'periphery'? How do the lived religious lives of practitioners contest or affirm authority? In The Seer of Bayside: Veronica Lueken and the Struggle to Define Catholicism (Oxford University Press, 2014), Joseph Laycock, assistant professor of religious studies at Texas State University, explores the implicit power of definitional boundaries through a study of a community that is simultaneously insider and outsider. The book is an introduction to Veronica Lueken, who had apparitions of the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and other Catholic saints, and a history of the movement that developed around her, the Baysiders. Laycock framed this unfolding history within the movement's evolving relationship with Church authorities. The narrative presents Lueken's early visions, the community of followers that rose up around here, and the continued conflict they received from the Church, their neighbors, and each other. The case is useful for understanding the creation of meaning through the contestation of tradition and questions of what gets to count as orthodox. In our conversation we discussed the Second Vatican Council, UFOs, technologies of power, the Pope, imagined communities, ethnography, New Religious Movements, abnormal Polaroid pictures, conspiracy theories, and the construction of sacred space.

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Kristian Petersen

Kristian Petersen is an Associate Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at

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