Sunday, September 15, 2013

Liberation Theology

Here is my presentation on Liberation Theology

Liberation Theology
1. Motivation for Liberation Theology
2. Summary of Theology
3. History

1. Motivation for Liberation Theology
- Hunger, injustices, violence (in Latin America, then in the world)

2. Summary of Theology
- How can those who suffer say God is love?
- Catholics & Protestants
- Emphasis on praxis
- 1st: acting in the world with the poor. Only after comes theological reflexion.
- Two main tools
    - Social Sciences - especially Sociology and Political Sciences ( what about Marxism? Marxism as indirect, embedded theory in Social Sciences in general. According to Gutierrez, no direct application.)
     - Biblical Exegesis  - from the poor

2. Summary of Theology
- Rejection of unjust structures
- Rejection of dualisms / (like body vs spirit).

- New models of life in communities (like the Anabaptists)
Formation of Base Ecclesial Communities
    - Small communities that read the Bible and think about social/political challenges.
     - Brazil: 70,000 BECs / ~ 1.8 million members.
- Main methodology of BECs: see-judge-act  
- BECs: Bad business for churches
- The School of the Americas in the US: “We helped destroy Liberation Theology”  ( did they? )

2. Summary of Theology
- Althaus-Reid
  - Indecent Theology - reconfigures Lib. Theo
  - ‘poor’ / ‘oppressed’ is insufficient: transgender, etc
  - Don’t [patronize, romanticize] the poor
  - Don’t “move” the poor to systematic theology
  - Academics of Lib. Theo. gave in to the capitalism system
  - The need to subvert theology & economy with indecency

2. Summary of Theology
“The crime of liberation theology was that it takes the Gospels seriously. [...] The Gospels are radical pacifist material, if you take a look at them. That was the major crime that set off the Reagan wars of terror.” - N. Chomsky

“When I share the bread with the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.” - Dom Hélder Câmara

2. Summary of Theology

3. History - Early history, 50s, early 60s
 - Sublimus Dei - bull - 1537 - Pope Paul III - Indians are human beings
 -  Valladolid debate - 1551 - Las Casas vs Sepulveda
 - 1959 - Cuban Revolution
    - Armed revolution
 - 1961 - Cuba : nationalization lands, including religious institutions
   - “Atheist state” (1976)
 - Vatican II (62) - Not much input from South
 - Conference: “Christ and the Brazilian Revolutionary Process” (62, by Protestants)

3. History - Mid 60s
- Wave of military coups begin (Brazil 64)
- Movement of Priests for the Third World (Arg 67 - 76)
[ - Student protests in France (68) ]
[ - Trudeau becomes PM (68) ]
- Conference of Medellín, Colombia - (68) - Theology by the South
  “Latin America finds itself, in many places, in a situation of injustice which may be called institutionalized violence. Such situation demands global, daring, urgent and profoundly renewing transformations” - Medellín, “On Peace”, ch 16
- Rockefeller, Vice President of USA (68): “If the catholics put in practice what they wrote in Medellín, our interests are in danger”

3. History - 70s
- Gustavo Guitiérrez writes the book “Liberation Theology” (72)
- Conference of Puebla, Mexico - (79) preferential option for the poor
- Wave of military coups
- Escalation of human rights violations in torture and killings (carried out mostly by army, police)
- Lib.Theo. religious people special targets
- Operation Condor - coordination of police & counter-intelligence in South America
    - American $, moved to armies & police of repressive gov

3. History - 70s
- San Patricio Church massacre (76, Argentina) - 5 priests
-  Pope John Paul II commissions then Archbishop Ratzinger, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (aka Inquisition), to study Liberation Theology
   - Criticisms:
        - Too much politics (not spiritual enough)
        - Catholic Church accomplice of privileged class since Conquista (“don’t say that”)
- Deliberate effort by Rome to censor Liberation Theology

3. History - 80s
- Óscar Romero assassinated in El Salvador (80)
- US and Vatican establish diplomatic relations (84)
- Libertatis Nuntius(84) & Libertatis Conscientia (86)
- L. Boff gets imposition of 1 year of silence by Inquisition for his book (85).
 “Jesus did not have in mind the Church as institution” ‘today a “new church” must arise, which will be an alternative for the incarnation of new ecclesial institutions whose power will be pure service’
- 6 scholar Jesuit priests & 4 American nuns assassinated in El Salvador (89)

3. History - 80s
- Liberation theologians -> academia & people
- Liberation practitioners -> social movements
  - birthplace of many ‘new political movements’/’new organizations’
     - non-hierarchical, anti-institution
- Rise of evangelicals (specially Pentecostals)
- Evangelicals courted by governments
- Waves of missionaries from the US
    - Replacing expelled lib. theologians in seminaries
- Pentecostals increase presence in media

3. History - 90s, 00s
- ‘Radicality’ of Lib. Theology ‘suspended’ by incorporation into existing political institutions
  - Tension between ‘institutions’ & ‘movements’
- To this day Lib. Theologians are targeted and murdered (Colombia)
- Aristide elected President of Haiti (91, 94)
   - 2004 coup d’état backed by the US
- Fernando Lugo elected President of Paraguay (2008)
    - 2012 coup d’état

3. History - 2013
- Bergoglio (Argentina) becomes Pope Francis
- Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (aka Inquisition) writes a book with Gutierrez.

- Mueller: [Lib. Theo.: one of the] “most significant currents of Catholic theology of the 20th century”


Supporting documentary: El Cielo Abierto - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeZ67Dbkq48

Supporting testimony: Noam Chomsky on Lib. Theo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNDG7ErY-k4

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Meeting with the Humanist Association of Ottawa

  The last visit of the 2012-2013 year of the "Getting to Know Our Neighbour's Faith" small group of the Ottawa Mennonite Church was with the Humanist Association of Ottawa. We met at Patty's Pub in June 2013. There were about 5 people from HAO and 6 people from the OMC. I tried to frame the discussion as an interview, trying to get to know their history and how they view religion overall. I was personally a bit afraid of what to expect from the conversation, mostly by people from our group. That is because, speaking generally, Christians are not very used to the idea of 'not defending their ideas' of G*d, and I didn't know how it would go. I don't want to write publicly about some details of their relationship with religion, but I want to say that I wish that, generally speaking, there were more gentle and more respectful relations between religious groups and atheists/humanists. More than that, I think that, in general, these "positions" have an opportunity to move beyond 'tolerance' or 'respect' and walk a path of embrace, arriving at some point at political cooperation. And then after (or in the meantime), to move to push the boundaries of philosophy. I should not have expectations that this should be the path of institutions, but it would be interesting to see local groups in such a process.
I learned that our humanist friends do have lots of assertions about who G*d is and who G*d is not. That looked like theology to me. It was also interesting to see how they use science to oppose ideas of G*d. I see these positions in the context of negative views by religious people of non-religious people. I know regrettable notions that judge non-religious or atheists as morally inferior than religious people. That is really unfortunate. And so, I noticed a certain 'spirit of counter-attack' by our atheist friends as they spoke about science exposing religion. They use science as a good tool to expose religion. There may be other tools too. I just think that there's the risk of "having too much faith in science". I don't think that science will help us in the search for meaning and solidarity in the future. There may be a philosophical debate about the intersection of science and ethics, but regardless of theism or atheism, we may need to carve new languages to talk about meaning and solidarity with the help of the Humanities and Social Sciences (ok, here we go, it's yet another science...). The other interesting thing to note was that "the question" was important to some of them. That is, even though they do not "believe in G*d", the "question of G*d" is still important to some of them. Why would this question follow them? In my mind, I thought of another position: that which would see "religion" as irrelevant. In that view, the "a" in "atheism" would be that of indifference towards "religion". And that's an interesting position that confronts a deeper question.
  I was also pleased to see how humanitarian solidarity moves them to help. They plan concrete and active political actions based on their principles. These are concrete and important actions not only at the city, but in different places of the world. And I admired that.