Here is the link to hear the hour long program.
Occupying a Latino male body in the academy is a continuous challenge where not a day goes by in which I am not reminded that I am an outsider, that this space I occupy within the ivory tower is a space never intended for me. To occupy this space, I am forced to be fluent in the way white folk think, philosophize and theorize. Any attempt to ground my theological view in my cultural context is dismissed as quaint, unscholarly or exotic. I would never have been granted a Ph.D. if I were not competent in Hegel, Barth or Moltmann. And yet, my white colleagues are deemed rigorous scholars without ever having to read Martí, Unamuno or Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.
Neoliberalism as a religious movement is an economic doctrine that can only be accepted by faith. This neoliberal faith is based on the power amassed by a decentralized network of institutions, and the militarily “advanced” nations it profits, which in turn verifies the universality of its economic doctrines. There can be no salvation outside the global market forces of “free trade.” An alternative to the spirit of neoliberalism can be found within the faith of the people. Within the present post-modern condition, a space has been opened—perhaps inadvertently—for the sacred. In this space, the faith and/or spirituality of the people can directly challenge global capitalism. The alternative to neoliberalism, the hope for the vast majority of the world’s population, will be found within their own faith traditions—specifically, how those faith traditions equip the marginalized within their midst to seek their own liberation. Although the actual tenets of any faith are important, the poor and disenfranchised usually approach their faith tradition differently than those who usually serve as the academic or ecclesiastic spokespersons of the faith. Any attempt to understand the faith of the people from the margins of the community will find itself rooted in the everyday, attempting to discover how their faith provides the means of surviving the condition of their disenfranchisement.
What religious considerations should inform the current immigration discussion? Are you ready for leading liberation theologian, professor of social ethics and Latinx studies at Iliff Seminary to brew some rad theology? In Episode 44 of the Brew Theology Podcast Janel, Liz, Kyle, Ryan & Stef get to talk with Dr. Miguel De La Torre on the US Immigration Crisis, and what De La Torre calls an ethics toward place. Miguel is on Episode 8 as well. Back in Episode 8, Dr. De La Torre speaks about his theology of hopelessness, and “para joder” (Spanish for “screwing with”).
Currently, I am living in Germany as a Fulbright scholar at Johannes Gutenberg University. During my time here, I have visited concentration camps, attempting to understand how an advance and civilized society, a culture which gave the world Beethoven, Luther and Klee, could also mechanize some of the greatest atrocities of the 20th century.
Rather than wrestling with evil, it becomes easier to simply dismiss Nazi concentration guards as monsters. Constructing monsters simplifies our visceral response. But even monsters pet dogs. It is so easy to characterize the abuser as inhuman, as lacking any sense of loving emotions. Simple binaries of good and evil makes inhumane those placed under the label of evil.
I am convinced that all eurocentric philosophical thought and movements – yes all – are oppressive to those who come from colonized spaces. When I contemplate every philosophical contribution made by the so-called Age of Enlightenment, it becomes obvious that the French Revolution’s battle cry for Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité was never meant for her future colonies in Vietnam or Algiers. Hegel’s entire endeavor for a historical truths rests on the presupposition of the superiority of the Europeans and the inferiority of non-whites. In his 1824 book, Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Weltgeschichte, Northern Europe – specifically the German Spirit – is the Spirit of the new World whose aim becomes the realization of absolute Truth as the unlimited self-determination of Freedom, a Freedom which has as its own absolute form itself as its purport (341). Such a Freedom was never meant for the “inferior” in need of civilization and Christianization. Even the U.S. rhetorical end to our daily oath of “liberty and justice for all” was never meant to include those from African descent, nor their neighbors south of the border.
To hope is not some wishful desire but an expected joy that God will bring about God’s purposes. Jürgen Moltmann argued for a hope based in a God who keeps promises, a God who is a step ahead of humanity making all things new. Moltmann’s hope is based on God’s promise which validates the gospel and assures an eternal and blissful afterlife, safeguards a future with meaning and purpose, fortifies a sense of security, provides tranquility of mind, and, most important, secures a sense of peace in the midst of life’s vicissitudes.
But what do you do when the God of liberation fails to liberate? When God’s promises fall short, a theology must be constructed which limits who is destined for liberation and, by extension, salvation.
Returning to the land which witnessed my birth is always a gut-wrenching experience. Separation from my island has now been five times longer than Odysseus’ was from his. But unlike Odysseus, who was returning to a place he was familiar with, I am attempting to piece together some type of rootedness upon the shifting sands of my parents’ false memories (sí, porque los bichos no picaban, y los mangos eran más dulce; yes, because the bugs were not biting, and mangoes were sweeter).
Every Cuban over a certain age lives with a particular trauma caused by the hardships of being a refugee. Homesickness for a place that was never home, mixed with nostalgia, romanticization and an unnaturally-taught hatred towards various actors blamed for our Babylonian captivity contributes to the trauma of not having a place, of not ever being able to visit one’s grandmother’s garden to eat mangos from its trees, nor enjoy the gentle sea breezes.
The following video, where I give a short talk on racism and the church, was produced in June 2016 by the General Commission of Religion and Race of the United Methodist Church.