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Caminemos Con Jesus: Toward a Hispanic/Latino Theology of Accompaniment.

By Roberto S. Goizueta. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1995. Pp. xii+ 224, $18.95.

Arguably the most substantive work yet produced by the growing number of U.S. Hispanic theologians. Goizueta's Spanish title, "Let Us Journey with Jesus," refers to the vision of the paschal mystery implicit in Hispanic popular Catholicism. G. first contextualizes his thought in his own experience as a Cuban exile, unpacks the idea of Hispanic popular Catholicism as especially revelatory, and develops the notion of a U.S. Hispanic anthropology--one that insists on community as the birthplace of the self, and thus contrasts markedly with the prevailing individualism of modern, liberal approaches.

Next, he constructs a social ethic upon the notion of relationality, affectivity, and esthetics, subsuming and going beyond the thought of Mexican philosopher Jose Vasconcelos. One of G.'s greatest contributions is his trenchant critique of praxis-based notions of transformative social action that end up instrumentalizing the very persons they mean to liberate. A liberative social praxis appropriate for Hispanics cannot dichotomize justice from beauty, for Hispanic cultures manifest the abiding esthetic, expressive orientation of their popular Catholicism. In the narratives, myths, rituals, and exuberant symbols of this Catholicism can be detected an implicit but nonetheless powerful social ethic.

G. goes on to link the notions of a U.S. Hispanic anthropology and social ethics with contemporary discourse regarding modernity and postmodernity, demonstrating how U.S. Hispanic theology must distance itself from deconstructionism, pluralism, and a spurious multiculturalism, if it is to remain loyal to its social, ethical, and liberative vocation. Finally, he elaborates the practical implications of the epistemological "option for the poor" that a U.S. Hispanic theology must make if it is to remain true to itself. In perhaps his most intriguing contribution, G., following the lead of Hispanic women theologians, discusses the need for theological reflection on family life and domesticity, where the elements of affectivity and relationality, hallmarks of the intersubjective praxis of the poor, may most fittingly be linked to the pursuit of God's reign.

G. brings an outstanding background in systematic and philosophical theology to his task. He knows mainstream Roman Catholic theology well and is unusually conversant with Latin American theology. Perhaps more than any other U.S. Hispanic theologian, he manifests an abiding concern for theological method. He takes the praxis methodology of liberation theologians and combines it with the corresponding concerns of Lonergan. G. has read most of the current U.S. Hispanic theologians, and he engages the thought of U.S. Hispanic women writers more creatively and consistently than any other current theologian. Much of his work is inspired by the seminal ideas of Virgilio Elizondo, but he grounds Elizondo's ideas in contemporary discourse on pluralism, multiculturalism, and postmodernity. His approach and sources reveal a broad familiarity with key thinkers both European and North American on the subject of individualism and pragmatic, universal rationality.

This work therefore has a rich texture. Indeed, it is a watershed in the sense that with this work U.S. Latino theologians have a refined example of what they have been seeking: an original theology in strict and ongoing dialogue with their multiform reality in the U.S., one that provides bridges for further dialogue with their Latin American mentors, with the mainstream theological community and, of course, with the Hispanic communities themselves upon whose reality this theology claims to be a constructive reflection.

On the negative side, G., like many U.S. Hispanic theologians, uncritically takes up the themes of mestizaje and the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Yet there is a growing body of social analysis in Mexico that shows how Vasconcelos' exaltation of the mestizo was the centerpiece of an ultimately discredited ideology of the Mexican Revolution and the political party that emerged from it. The notion of mestizaje is seriously tainted. And recent historical studies regarding the Guadalupan apparitions call into question some of the affirmations made about the events surrounding this devotion. A credible scholarly approach does not require a rejection of the Guadalupe event as mere myth or human invention, but it does demand some attention to the substantive findings of reputable historians like Stafford Poole who today call into question the historical accuracy of some affirmations made about the event, particularly the idea that the indigenous peoples were attracted to Guadalupe in the 16th century or that this devotion had much to do with the native peoples at all until much later in Mexican history.

Furthermore, it is necessary to develop a more critical notion of popular Hispanic Catholicism, to name some of its negative manifestations, its functionality with machismo and other dehumanizing trends in Hispanic cultures. I think this can be done without destroying G.'s main lines of argument. Otherwise G. might fall into what he himself abhors: the romanticization of the people's religion. Finally, one might also ask why G. opted not to integrate his substantive reflections on the option for the poor and the limits of modern individualism with Catholic social teaching. Many of the concepts he develops have corollaries in the thought of Pope John Paul II and have been taken up in the magisterium especially by the Latin American bishops. In some ways, of course, G. further refines and develops their concerns. That Catholic social teaching's extensive contributions to these themes are seldom if ever cited is puzzling.

G.'s accomplishment is, nevertheless, solid and inspiring. The appearance of this challenging book suggests that U.S. Hispanic theology is, indeed, comma of age.
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Author:Deck, Allan Figueroa
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1996
Words:919
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