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Christian Texts for Aztecs: Art and Liturgy in Colonial Mexico.

CHRISTIAN TEXTS FOR AZTECS: ART AND LITURGY IN COLONIAL MEXICO. By Jaime Lara. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame, 2008. Pp. x + 372. $75.

Lara's extensively illustrated study traces the cultural history of Mexico's 16th-century missionary enterprise as seen primarily through the works of Catholic missionaries and native, primarily Aztec, populations. Conceived as a continuation of his earlier work City, Temple, Stage (2004), this study addresses the inculturation in visual and material terms of Catholic sacraments and sacramentals into an Aztec worldview. L. clearly and persuasively demonstrates that the pre-Tridentine Catholic liturgy--similar in some ways to pre-Hispanic worship--effectively "conquered" the religions imagination of its new Mesoamerican practitioners. Drawing on liturgy, art, architecture, cultural studies, and a variety of primary sources, this work synthesizes a deep understanding of Aztec religious beliefs in order to articulate the very complex development of colonial Mexican Catholicism.

L. challenges what have been called the "black, white, or grey" interpretations of the process of evangelization in the Americas (i.e., as totally blessed, an abomination, or mixed), and for this will surely draw criticism. Nevertheless, with this work, he provides rich insights on the development of sacramental practice, popular piety, catechetical drama, and parish politics. Students of liturgy and missiology will find it invaluable for understanding the inculturation of Christianity into the New World.

JOSEPH E. WEISS, S.J.

Church of St. Thomas More, St. Paul, Minn.
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Title Annotation:SHORTER NOTICES
Author:Weiss, Joseph E.
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2009
Words:232
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