All posts tagged: petercasarella

Uninhabitable Land, Landless Peoples

To take a plane from Santiago de Chile to Cochabamba, Bolivia, you must touch down in northern Chile before changing for the next flight. The stops on this leg are rather isolated cities like Antofagasta, Iquique, and Arica. In these areas the view of an unadulterated cordillera, or mountain range, is sublime and haunting. Leaving Arica at Chile’s northernmost tip, for example, one gazes at a speck of an airport and nothing else. The burnt sand of the Atacama desert with its infinite and perpetually changing hues has very few roads, homes, or city lights. It is no wonder that the best astronomical observatories in the world can also be found in this region. The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda configured the vastness of the desert in northern Chile as the infernal counterpart (“an empty theater,” “an eternal night”) to the fecund sea just outside his seaside perch (known as La Serena) in the coastal resort of Valparaiso.[1] This is not poetic license. It feels that empty! Bolivia, my destination on this trip, offered relief but …

The World in the Text: Reading the Bible with the Church of Africa

Are Africans, as Desmond Tutu once opined, “much more on the wavelength of the Bible than the Occidental ever was”?[1] Should one listen to African exegetes more closely since, as Philip Jenkins has argued, their experience of inhabiting the world of the Bible represents the vanguard of a growing shift of Christianity towards the global South?[2] These are questions worth pondering. I think there is abundant evidence—both theological and empirical—to suggest that the Bible plays a role among African Christians that is profound, communal, and suggestive of a new paradigm for ecclesial exegesis. Let us take two examples from Scripture: the Exodus event and the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Mercy Amba Oduyuye, a Ghanian scholar born into a matrilineal Akana culture, offers scholarly insights on Exodus. She is a Methodist laywoman who studied in Cambridge, England, founded the Circle of Concerned African Women in 1989, and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Yale.[3] She sees deep commonalities between Africans and the experience of the Hebrew people: “The victory song led by …

Juan Diego and Latino Lay Spirituality: The Sacred Broomstick

In light of the recent trip of Pope Francis to Mexico and his visit to the Basilica of Guadalupe, the person of St. Juan Diego provokes an invitation to consider his virtues and those of other Latinos who have imitated his “practical Christianity.”[2] We know from the Nican Mopohua that the intensity of his conversion to the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe was matched only by his ardent desire to heal his uncle Juan Bernardino, who was lying on his deathbed.[3] In the homily at the canonization, Pope St. John Paul II extolled the new saint’s humility and noted that his witness of faith became “the catalyst for a new Mexican identity” and “facilitated the meeting of two worlds.”[4] The Pope then implored Juan Diego from heaven to “bless families, strengthen spouses in their marriage, [and] sustain the efforts of parents to give their children a Christian upbringing.”[5] St. Juan Diego can thus help Latino families in the New Evangelization to explore with new vigor the challenge of passing on the faith. Virgil Elizondo …