Faith has taken hold of some publisher. Who knows if this is a response to “moral values” and the “Last Temptation,” “Chronicles of Narnia,” and good Christians like Pat Robertson and James Dobson.
On the Catholics side, La Virgen is ever popular for publishers and authors. But new focus has been given to topics such as the fiesta system of indigenous groups, church and barrio organizing, sanctuary movements during the Central American genocide, Protestant “Hispanics,” and Cyptic-Jews and Muslims.
But one thing that is different about some of the books recently released having to do with Chicano(a)s and Latino(a)s and religion is that most deal with Christianity and company and most deal a subject many “American” Christians find foreign: “helping the least of those” and the “angels in disguise.” Then there are many of the book being released concerning Crypto-Jews in the
Among the book we will look at are PADRES: The National Chicano Priest Movement; Virgin of El Barrio: Marian Apparitions; Catholic Evangelizing, and Mexican American Activism; Belief in Dialogue: U.S. Latina Writers Confront Their Religious Heritage; Latino Religions and Civic Activism In The United States; and United States Hispanic Catholics: Trends and Works, 1990-2000.
If you look back at some of our older issues, we predicted this trend, and we mention some books dealing with the same topics, even looking at Protestants. I know Carmen Tafolla has some interesting stories on Protestantism. I joked one time with
Local Religion in Colonial
Emerging Voices Urgent Choices: Latino-a Leadership Development from the Pew to the Plaza (Paperback)(Brill Academic Pub, Religion in the Americas Series, V. 4, Jan 2006 ISBN 9004148167) by Edwin I. Hernandez, Milagros Pena, and Kenneth G. Davis focuses on the strength of U.S. "Hispanic" churches. “In this pioneering volume, experts from various disciplines examine the remarkable contribution of Hispanic churches to
Chapters analyze success stories in Latino(a) ministry, specific issues for Catholic leadership and Protestant denominations, and the political and community-serving activities of diverse congregations. Together, the essays demonstrate how Hispanic churches of every denomination are generating social capital in neglected communities.
The book updates previous research on religion that largely ignores U.S. Latino(a)s, and adds a new dimension to Latino Studies scholarship by recognizing the important role that religion plays in Hispanic life.” The incongruent use of Latino and Hispanic is the publishers own.
Race and Churches
United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation as an Answer to the Problem of Race was published by Oxford University Press in 2003. In this book Curtis Paul Deyoung, Michael O. Emerson, George Yancey, and Karen Chai Kim looks at the “last 40 years” and how “desegregation has revolutionized almost every aspect of life in the US: schools, businesses, government offices, even entertainment.” However they are quick to point out, the church has been untouched. The authors argue that “multiracial Christian congregations offer an opening the still-locked door between the races in the
They note, however, that a belief persists — even in African-American and Latino churches — that racial segregation is an acceptable, even useful practice. The authors examine this question from biblical, historical, and theological perspectives to make their case. They explore the long history of inter-racialism in the church, with specific examples of multiracial congregations in the
The authors respond in detail, closing with a foundation for a theology suited to sustaining multiracial congregations over time. Readers will see a path toward making the church the basis for racial reconciliation in our still-splintered nation.” - Publishers Description.
The Perpetual Virgen
There is always something being published about La Virgen.
Northwestern University Press, last year, published Bernando and the Virgin (Northwestern Univ. Press Latino Voices Series Nov 2004 ISBN 0810122405), Silvio Sirias. It focuses around a lesser-known apparition of La Virgen. “In 1980, with the Sandinistas newly in power, tailor and pig farmer Bernardo Martínez witnesses an extraordinary thing: an otherworldly glow about the statue of the Virgin Mary in the church where he works as sacristán. Soon the Holy Virgin appears. She tells Bernardo to forget his money problems and fear of ridicule, and spread her message of peace and faith to his neighbors.
Though a work of fiction, this book is based on actual events in Bernardo Martínez' life. The
visitation of the Virgin Mary at
Sirias' novel tells many stories: that of a humble man touched by the transcendent; that same man as a devout boy denied the priesthood because of poverty; and those in his orbit, past and present. It is also the stormy epic of
Hard Working Catholics:
What’s been most interesting to me is books by really sincere Christians, those that actually obey the second greatest commandment and “love their neighbor.” In The Blindfold’s Eyes (Orbis Books 2002 ISBN 1570754357), Sister Diana Ortiz tell of her experience in
As a consequence of her devastation, Ortiz lost every memory she had of her life before the kidnapping, and spent years battling both real and remembered demons in a struggle to heal herself and to spread the word about U.S. complicity in Guatemala's repressive political system and in the torture and murder of 1,000s of innocent Guatemalans.
This is an important book for two reasons: its illustration of the fallout of torture and the special needs of survivors, and Ortiz's well-documented narrative of the
Also on Ortiz, Psst . . . I Have Something To Tell You, Mi Amor (Wings Press Oct 2005 ISBN 0916727203) by Ana Castillo wrote some plays focusing on Sister Dianna Ortiz who traveled as a missionary in the early 1980s to the highlands of Guatemala, where she taught Mayan children to read and write.
“Castillo’s displays of emotion and experience are legitimately heavy with truthfulness. It jolts readers with a blast of reality.” — Raymundo Elí Rojas, The Newspaper Tree. www.wingspress.com. You can read the rest of my review of this book on The Newspaper Tree.
Another recent book is Father Roy Bourgeois biography — Disturbing the Peace: The Story of Father Roy Bourgeois and the Movement to Close the School of the Americas (Orbis Books Fall 2004), James Hodge and Linda Cooper, with forward by Martin Sheen. After years as a Naval officer in
This book chronicles the many activists that built the School of the Americas Watch movement and presents new research on the action of SOA graduates. With personal stories of how Bourgeois learned the reality of oppression in
Also focusing on
Sanctuaries of the Heart / Santuarios del Corazón: A novella in English and Spanish (Univ of Arizona Press Sept ISBN 0816524653) by Margarita Cota-Cárdenas and translated from the original Spanish by Barbara Riess and Trino Sandoval, in collaboration with the author, also has an introduction by one of my favorite scholars, Tey Diana Rebolledo.
In this book, “Petra Leyva has begun to write a novel about the Sanctuary Movement when she hears that her widowed, womanizing father has set fire to his house in a drunken rage. Overwhelmed by family memories,
Hard Working Catholics:
Of course, who can forget the scholar monja Sor Juana. Pawns of a House/Los empeños de una casa a play by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Bilingual Press Mar 2006 ISBN 193101017X) is now published in a bilingual edition. “In this 17th-century cloak-and-sword play, eight characters are enmeshed in a tangled web of mutual obligations. When they find themselves thrown together in the house of Don Pedro de Arellano in
The most interesting book I’ve seen and that I want to run out and buy is The Prison Angel: Mother Antonia's Journey from Beverly Hills to a Life of Service in a Mexican Jail (Paperback)(Penguin Non-Classics May 30, 2006 ISBN 014303717X) by Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan. The winners of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting tell the astonishing story of Mary Clarke. “At the age of 50, Clarke left her comfortable life in suburban
She has led many of them through profound spiritual transformations in which they turned away from their lives of crime, and has deeply touched the lives of all who have witnessed the depth of her compassion. Donning a nun's habit, she became Mother Antonia, renowned as ‘the prison angel,’ and has now organized a new community of sisters-the Servants of the Eleventh Hour--widows and divorced women seeking new meaning in their lives. ‘We had never heard a story like hers,’ Jordan and Sullivan write, ‘a story of such powerful goodness.’
On one charity mission across the Mexican border to the drug-trafficking capitol of
Check out the National Public Radio's story on Mother Antonia.
Rebellious Nuns: The Troubled History of a Mexican Convent, 1752-1863 (Oxford Univ Press Nov. 2005 0195182219) by Margaret Chowning is a “treasure-trove of documents that allow an intimate look at two crises that wracked the convent of La Purísima Concepción in San Miguel el Grande,
Would the community adopt as austere a lifestyle as they could endure, doing manual labor, suffering hunger and physical discomfort, deprived of the society of family and friends? Or would these women be allowed to lead comfortable and private lives when not at prayer? Accusations and counteraccusations flew. First one side and then the other seemed to have the upper hand. For a time, a mysterious and dramatic illness broke out among the rebellious nuns, capturing the limelight. Were they faking? Were they unconsciously influenced by their ringleader, the charismatic and manipulative young women who first experienced the ‘mal’?
Rebellious Nuns covers the history of the convent from its founding in 1752 to the forced eviction of the nuns in 1863.” www.oup.com/us.
Protestants are frequently left out of Chicano(a) Literature and Latino(a) Literature. To many, stories of La Virgen and Quiceñeras don’t relate. Except that many Chicano(a) Baptist started having quiceneras in the late 1980s. Humorously, as Garrison Keillor humoursly said in one of his “News from
Latino Pentecostal Identity examines the historical and contemporary rise of Pentecostalism among Latinos, their conversion from other denominations, and the difficulties involved in reconciling conflicts of ethnic and religious identity. The book also looks at how evangelical groups encourage the severing of ethnic ties in favor of spiritual community and the ambivalence Latinos face when their faith fails to protect them from racial discrimination." www.columbia.edu/cu/cup/catalog/data/023112/0231127324.HTM.
In Hispanic Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists in
Anyway, this book covers “a broad sweep from the 1830s to the 1990s.” “Barton examines how Mexican-American Protestant identities have formed and evolved as los Protestantes interacted with their two very different communities in the barrio and in the Protestant church. He looks at historical trends and events that affected Mexican-American Protestant identity at different periods and discusses why and how shifts in los Protestantes' sense of identity occurred.
His research highlights the fact that while Protestantism has traditionally served to assimilate Mexican Americans into the dominant
Padres and Madres in the Barrio
But the Jesuit priest refuses to accept eulogies as his major job assignment. Working since 1986 in the poorest parish in the Los Angeles diocese, ‘Father Greg’ has run Jobs for a Future, ambitious, albeit cash-strapped program that has helped thousands of gang members discover a life beyond the death mill. G-Dog and The Homeboys presents the story Boyle's unconventional ministry and its extraordinary successes.” www.unmpress.com
Another book focusing on priests and Chicanos Catholics is PADRES: The National Chicano Priest Movement (
To oppose this religious apartheid and challenge the church to minister fairly to all of its faithful, a group of Chicano priests formed PADRES (Padres Asociados para Derechos Religiosos, Educativos y Sociales, or Priests Associated for Religious, Educational, and Social Rights) in 1969. Over the next 20 years of its existence, PADRES became a powerful force for change within the Catholic church and for social justice within American society.
This book offers the first history of the founding, activism, victories, and defeats of PADRES. At the heart of the book are oral history interviews with the founders of PADRES, who describe how their ministries in poor Chicano parishes, as well as their own experiences of racism and discrimination within and outside the church, galvanized them into starting and sustaining the movement.
Martínez traces the ways in which PADRES was inspired by the Chicano movement and other civil rights struggles of the 1960s and also probes its linkages with liberation theology in Latin America. He uses a combination of social movement theory and organizational theory to explain why the group emerged, flourished, and eventually disbanded in 1989.” www.utexas.edu/utpress
Father Rahm’s Book
Before Lalo Delgado died, he mentioned that his mentor Father Harold Rahm had written a book and sent him the manuscript. It’s time for Father Harold Rahm to put something out. Like Boyle, he’s been doing similar stuff since the 1950s from
In The Church in the Barrio: Mexican American Ethno-Catholicism in Houston (Hardcover)(Univ of North Carolina Press Feb 27, 2006 ISBN 080782996X), Roberto R. Treviño tells “a story that spans from the founding of immigrant parishes in the early 20th century to the rise of the Chicano civil rights movement in the early 1970s, Treviño discusses how an intertwining of ethnic identity and Catholic faith equipped Mexican Americans in Houston to overcome adversity and find a place for themselves in the Bayou City.” http://uncpress.unc.edu/default.htm.
There is also The Virgin of El Barrio: Marian Apparitions, Catholic Evangelizing, and Mexican American Activism (Qualitative Studies in Religion) (New York Univ Press May 2005 ISBN 0814758258) by Kristy Nabhan-Warren. “In 1998, a Mexican American woman named Estela Ruíz began seeing visions of the Virgin Mary in south
Our own Mario T. Garcia put out Padre: The Spiritual Journey of Father Virgil Cordano on Capra Press last year (2005) in May (ISBN 1592660525). He gives the story of a priest's tumultuous, challenging journey toward his place in the church: “This is a biography of Father Virgil Cordano, now the spiritual and administrative head of
Father Virgil, through all his tests, is committed to his religion, his family, and his community. Includes discussion of the emerging freedom of the Catholic lay community, the shifting winds of change within the church, and the agonizing effects of the sexual abuse crisis.” Website unavailable.
Latinos and the New Immigrant Church (John Hopkins Univ Press May 2006 ISBN 0801883873) by David A. Badillo shows how “Latin Americans” “make up the largest new immigrant population in the United States, and how Latino Catholics are the fastest-growing sector of the Catholic Church in America. In this book, historian Badillo offers a history of Latino Catholicism in the
Focusing on 20th-century Latino urbanism, Badillo contrasts broad historic commonalities of Catholic religious tradition with variations of Latino ethnicity in various locales. He emphasizes the contours of day-to-day life as well as various aspects of institutional and lived Catholicism.
By contrasting the development of three distinctive Latino communities — the Chicano(as), Puerto Ricans, and Cuban Americans. Badillo challenges the popular concept of an overarching ‘Latino experience’ and offers instead an integrative approach to understanding the scope, depth, and complexity of the Latino contribution to the character of America's urban landscapes.”
Crypto and Sephardic
Jewish identity and customs throughout the ages — often unaware of the reasons for some of these customs. When Jacobo persists in asking his grandmother about these practices, she tells him the secret of their past and offers him the chance to be the keeper of traditions for his generation.
As Jacobo learns about the origins of his family, he begins to think about his own place in the chain of the generations. After reading the story, parents and children will be able to discuss their own family traditions and history.”
This book reminds me a politico family in
Another book on this topic is Bring Me More Stories (Floricanto Press ISBN 0915745674), Sally Benforado. In these short tales, author Benforado weaves together the oral history of a family of Sephardic Jews, from their close knit home in
Brotherhood of the Light: A novel of the Penitentes and Crypto-Jews of New Mexico (Floricanto Press ISBN 0915745666) by Ray Michael Baca is a novel about the un-easy and often misunderstood relationships of Crypto-Jews and Hispanos in New Mexico and their deep common roots in Spanish history — conquest and colonization — and religious faith and shared values. www.floricantopress.com. Another book on this press is Remnants of Crypto-Jews Among Hispanic Americans by Gloria Golden, Edited by Andrea Alessandra Cabello, University of California, Berkeley, and Sohaib Raihan (ISBN: 0-915745-56-9).
Memory, Oblivion, and Jewish Culture in Latin America on Univ of Texas Press (ISBN 029270643X), edited by Marjorie Agosín, shows how “Latin America has been a refuge for Jews fleeing persecution from 1492, when Sepharad Jews were expelled from Spain, until well into the twentieth century, when European Jews sought sanctuary there from the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust:
"Vibrant Jewish communities have deep roots in countries such as
A recent Southwest Book Award Winner, Pomegranate Seeds: Latin American Jewish Tales (Univ of New Mexico Press 2005 08263239IX), by Nadia Grosser Nagarajan writes the first collection of the oral tradition of Latin American Jews to be presented in English. These 34 tales span the 500 years of Jewish presence in
The Muslim Side
On the other side of the coin, and less focused upon by publisher, are the Crypto-Muslims. Covert Gestures: Crypto-Islamic Literature as Cultural Practice in Early Modern
Forcibly expelled from Spain in the early 17th-century, the substantial Muslim community known as the moriscos left behind a hidden yet extremely rich corpus of manuscripts . Copied out in Arabic script and concealed in walls, false floors, and remote caves, these little-known texts now offer modern readers an absorbing look into the cultural life of the moriscos during he hundred years between heir forced conversion to Christianity and their eventual expulsion.
In its interdisciplinary approach, Barletta’s work is nothing less than a rewriting of the cultural history of Muslim Spain, as well as a re-plotting of the future course of medieval and early modern literary studies.”
I really think this is an untapped part of Chicano(a) letters. With all the Arab, Persian, Muslim, Lebanese influence we’ve seen in Chicano and Latino scenes (e.g., Shakira), it’s time authors start focusing on this. Just look at it. Agustin Lara’s famous song
Activist Faith: Grassroots Women in Democratic Brazil and Chile (Pennsylvania State Univ Press June 2005 ISBN 0271025492) by Carol Ann Drogus and Hannah Stewart- Gambino, two of today’s leading authorities on religion and politics in Latin America, have teamed up to produce the “first comprehensive study of women’s grassroots religious movements since the transition to democracy in Brazil and Chile.
On a theoretical level, the book compels us to rethink the conventional wisdom about the ‘death’ of social movements in
History of the Mormons in
New Mexico Press is always on a roll. Their The Alabados of New Mexico (July 1, 2005 ISBN 0826329675) by Thomas J. Steele focuses on the sacred Spanish-language hymns known as alabados originated in colonial
Introductory material discusses the sources of alabados and the form's origin in late medieval spirituality. Thomas Steele defines terms and discusses the alabado as poetry, music, and oral tradition.”
In Cantemos Al Alba: Origins of Songs, Sounds, and Liturgical Drama of Hispanic New Mexico (Hardcover) also on Univ of New Mexico Press (June 16, 2006 ISBN 0826338747), Tomás Lozano gives us “the first book to trace the origins of Hispanic New Mexico's liturgical drama, early songs, and sounds to ancient European traditions.
"Tomás Lozano weaves a historical unifying thread of events originating in medieval
In his 17 chapters, Lozano presents over one hundred songs with original music notations, compares full dramatic exemplars, and brings forward recordings of perhaps forgotten sounds. Cantemos al Alba is an innovative study and bank of information that provides testimony for Lozano's anthological work.”
In Holy Intoxication to Drunken Dissipation: Alcohol Among Quichua Speakers in Otavalo, Ecuador (Paperback)(Univ of New Mexico Press Mar 16, 2006 ISBN 0826338143), Barbara Y. Butler shows how “on the eve of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire, peoples throughout the Andes brewed beer from corn and other grains, believing that this alcoholic beverage, called asua, was a gift from the gods, a drink possessing the power to mediate between the human and divine.
Consuming asua to intoxication was a sacred tradition that humans and spirits shared, creating reciprocal joy and ties of mutual obligation. When
More on Race and the Church
Also of interest is sociologist/evangelist Tony Campolo The Church Enslaved: A spirituality for Racial Reconciliation: "Two of the most vocal activists on racial issues in the church seek nothing less than a conversion of American Christianity. They directly challenge the churches to resume leadership in overcoming and redressing America's legacy of racial segregation. Campolo (Revolution and Renewal: How Churches Are Saving Our Cities) and Battle (Practicing Reconciliation in a Violent World) expose the realities of racial division in the churches and then lift up a vision of a Church without racism. To achieve reconciliation within and among the denominations, they argue, both the black and the white church need to acknowledge and overcome substantial problems in their traditions. The authors provide an blueprint for how racially-reconciled churches can encourage activism in the cities, church involvement in politics, and responsible use of the Bible, ultimately helping to transform American society itself." Read a agnostic/atheist review of this book by clicking HERE.
Well, until next time.