Hispanic/Latino Theology pp. 240-288
In chapter 13, “The Collective ‘Dis-covery’ of Our Own Power,” Maria Pilar Aquino discusses the conquest of Latin America and its relation to Latin American liberation theology, particularly feminist theology (240). Aquino says that “it is radically impossible to disregard the fact that we sprang from a conquered and colonized continent” (240). It is from within this reality that Latin American feminist theology emerges, choosing and articulating a different future (241-42). She creatively subverts the word “discovery,” used so often to describe the conquest of Latin America; instead of the discovering, Aquino says that the conquest was actually the covering of the Latin American people (241). Thus, it is the task of Latin American feminist theology to dis-cover, to uncover, the strength and beauty of Latin American women (242). Aquino lays out the “fundamental principles” of Latin American feminist theology, a list that comes together to create a radical egalitarian vision for the church (252). She also lists three features of this theology: 1) creative participation in theology (254), 2) an understanding of woman as both “subjects and objects of theology” (255), and 3) a relevance for daily life (256). This theology is rooted in the daily realities and struggles of Latin American women, and working actively for transformation, “convinced that things should and can change” (257). The thing that was most significant for me in this chapter was the strong connection Aquino made between the conquest and Latin American liberation theology, especially her strong words about the institution of the church in relation to this. A few of her comments hit home for me, such as “the institutional church arrives late, does so at a snail’s pace, or simply does not arrive at all” and “the behavior of the institutional church can only indicate a systemic resistance to the re-creating activity of the Spirit of God in the world” (242). These are harsh but prophetic comments, and I have experienced them to be true firsthand in my own context. For me, this served as a reminder that the church has the choice to arrive, to welcome and seek the Spirit…or not.
In chapter 14, “U.S. Hispanic Popular Catholicism as Theopoetics,” Roberto S. Goizueta explores the theological form and expression of popular Catholicism, particularly in the images of the crucifix (271) and Our Lady of Guadalupe (280). Goizueta points to these images as places where theology comes to life in vibrantly meaningful ways, standing in contrast to much of today’s “increasingly irrelevant” academic theology (262). The crucifix is a central image of Hispanic theology because in it, the suffering of the Hispanic community is reflected in the suffering of Christ (275). Goizueta explains that it is “within the context of [Hispanic] historical praxis as a community” that the crucifix becomes a “symbol of hope— a hope born of the crucified Jesus’ identification with us in our own crucifixion” (272-73). The significance of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Hispanic theology also emerges from the historical praxis of the Hispanic community (282). Guadalupe meets the Hispanic community where they are, in the midst of their “abandonment,” and affirms their humanity (284-85). Thus, the images of Christ’s suffering on the cross and Our Lady of Guadalupe are two primary expressions of Hispanic theology, reflecting the reality of the Hispanic experience in both content and form (269). Particularly interesting for me in this chapter were Goizueta’s comments about the content and form of theology (269) as well as his distinction that “Latinos and Latinas live in a world where God is revealed primarily in flesh and blood, in symbols and images; in Anglo society and its form of Christianity, we are faced with a God who is revealed primarily in clear and distinct ideas” (267). This reminded me of Marshall McLuhan’s idea that “the medium is the message,” which we have been discussing in Methods of Biblical Interpretation. In a very real way, God is who (and how) our theology portrays God to be. So, what does it mean for Hispanic theology to be primarily tangible and Anglo theology to be primarily theoretical? Well, if the medium is the message, if the form is the content (267), then these differences are far from minor.
Journal Article Reflections:
In the first article, “Called to Be a Bridge Person,” Marigene Chamberlain reflects on her call and role to build bridges between cultures. She describes the dimensions of cross-cultural communication, pointing to differences such as high-context and low-context communication. She also describes the gifts that enable people to be bridge builders, such as the “ability to live comfortably in ambiguity” and “having a sense of humor.” Ultimately, Chamberlain points to God as the Creator of diverse cultures, “the One who calls us to be in covenant with one another.” As someone who feels called to build bridges in many different ways, this article helped me think more about the gifts God has given me according to my call.
The article “Justice For Our Neighbors: Dallas/Fort Worth” discusses the work of Justice For Our Neighbors (JFON), a ministry of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). The article highlights the ministry of Amy Spaur, one of GBGM’s Church and Community Workers. Amy serves at JFON in Dallas/ Fort Worth, which provides free legal services to immigrants and seeks to build community and dialogue across cultures. JFON has eight core values: expression of faith, quality free legal services, cross-cultural community, hospitality, congregation-based, volunteer-based, education, and advocacy. Overall, these core values painted a balanced and holistic picture of Hispanic ministry, which helped me think about the core values of my own vision for Hispanic ministry.
This week was filled with opportunities to explore vocation and discern the Holy Spirit’s leading. First, Marcia Riggs’ presentation helped me think more about the kind of leader God is calling me to be in the church and beyond. Specifically, I appreciated her comments about living into the “energy” of conflict and being open to the Holy Spirit’s creating power in the midst of conflict in the body of Christ. This put what we have been learning in Theories of Peace & Conflict about the positive potential of conflict into the context of church leadership, which was helpful for me. I also really appreciated the opportunity in Theories of Peace & Conflict this week to fill out a personal theory-practice template. This for me turned out to be an intentional time of reflecting, making connections, and ultimately aligning myself with the vision God has for me as a peacemaker. One thing I took from the theory-practice template was the fact that education and peacemaking are undeniably linked for me. This is an invaluable insight for me, that education for me is an act of peace and a tool for peace. Finally, even New Testament this week was an opportunity for me to think about how the Holy Spirit is guiding me in my vocation; I appreciated Friday’s discussion about discernment, about listening to the Holy Spirit in community and being willing to follow in the unexpected directions it leads. I love the way the Jerusalem Council words its letter to the Gentile Christians in Acts, describing their decision making process by saying, “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Acts 15.28). For me, this statement is a powerful example of the gentle, natural leading of the Holy Spirit. Together in community, it is my prayer that my vocational discernment will be this way— not a stressful experience, but an affirming process in which every step simply seems good to the Holy Spirit and to the community of people God has placed in my life.