The Future of Liberation Theology: An Argument and Manifesto Paperback – June 28, 2006
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 0.494 ounces
- Paperback : 188 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0334040612
- ISBN-13 : 978-0334040613
- Publisher : Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd (June 28, 2006)
- Dimensions : 6.75 x 10.25 x 9.25 inches
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,001,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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This quote from the books introduction outline Patrella's project:
"The time to reinvent liberation theology is now. Latin American liberation theology was born with the promise of being a theology that would not rest with merely talking about liberation but would actually help liberation people from material deprivation. If thus had two parts; a rereading of Christianity from the perspective of the oppressed and the construction of 'historical projects': models of political and economic organization that would replace an unjust status quoe. These two parts were inseparable in the pursuit of liberation...My purpose is constructive: the refashioning of liberation theology for a new century but an old challenge, the liberation of the poor." (Introduction, vii)
Chapters 1 and 2 look back to recover the missing project of history in liberation theology's inception and recovers it for the present. Chapter 3 grounds the politics of Patrella's outlook and asserts democracy as an undone historical project. Chapter 4 attacks the way capitalism has been theorized and suggests that liberation theology must rethink its approach to capitalism and socialism. The task is to look beyond capitalism vs socialism as mutually exclusive, i.e. false, alternatives. Chapter 5 looks beyond the determinism of Marx's social theory and, instead, draws on the social theory of Roberto Unger. Unger's social theory views society and institutions as much less unified and stable as often accepted. His concepts of institutional imagination and alternative pluralisms ground a fresh look at how institutions are both in flux and changable. Chapter 6 brings Patrella's argument full circle and revisits the future and possibilities of liberation theology.
I highly recommend Patrella's book to anyone - theologian or activist - who is concerned or committed to participating in history's future shape. There is a latent feeling of hope amidst malaise, which Patrella and Liberation Theology taps in the face of the triumph of the individual, triumph of the market, and quiet exclusion of the poor in a world where evangelical "freedom" and doctrine of salvation by economic growth reigns unchecked. Good read.
He wrote in the Introduction to this 2004 book, “The time to reinvent liberation theology is now. Latin American liberation theology was born with the promise of being a theology that would not rest with merely talking about liberation but would actually help liberate people from material deprivation… However, today the ‘end of history’ and the demise of socialism have deprived liberation theology of its preferred historical project. Liberation theologians … resign themselves to rehashing their rereading of Christianity… This book shows that such an abdication of intellectual ambition and social responsibility is unwarranted… the central contribution of this book lies in the demonstration that liberation theology can again place the development of historical projects at the heart of its self-understanding… My purpose is … the refashioning of liberation theology for a new century but an old challenge, the liberation of the poor.” (Pg. vii)
He explains, “my argument denies the theology/sociopolitical analysis split in two ways: first, by collapsing the distinction between the theological and the political and insisting on the development of what could be called the material component of liberation theology’s categories. Within my scheme, ‘the preferential option for the poor’ and ‘liberation’ … are to be developed as alternative … political, economic, and social institutions that can be enacted at society’s many levels: at the level of the church as well as grass roots organizations, at the level of civil society as well as the state, at the level of local economies as well as the national, and eventually global, economy as a whole.” (Pg. 39)
He observes, “Today any such project must be couched in the language of democracy.” (Pg. 46) He continues, “Liberation theologians and popular movements alike now see political democracy as an area where they can strive for an alternative model of democratic organization in which the majority would be able to participate… this model must be created by the popular classes themselves… Liberation theologians thus abandoned revolution and embraced political democracy while remaining unwilling to grant it the last word. Instead, they suffused the concept of democracy with an ideal content of far greater participation and equality than allowed for in existing democratic regimes.” (Pg. 58)
He argues, “liberation theology’s approach to capitalism reveals itself as a straightjacket that must be escaped. The very way liberation theology theorizes capitalism makes radical structural change a virtual impossibility; liberation theology’s approach to capitalism blocks rather than opens avenues for change. In this framework there seems to be no middle space between revolution and local activism; yet to aspire to revolution is to hope for too much, while to rest satisfied with community building is to not hope enough… What makes the need for an alternative understanding of capitalism urgent is that liberation theology often depicts capitalism not just as an economic system but also as the defining element of all of society.” (Pg. 84)
He concludes, “Liberation theology invites the theologian to place at his or her heart the problems of the majority of humankind…. From a global perspective, it is the European and North American standard of living that is extreme and unusual in that it represents an extreme and unusual case of affluence in the midst of routine poverty. From a global perspective, affluence is the exception and lack is the rule. No understanding of liberation theology that fails to make the construction of historical projects a central element fully takes the plight of humanity’s majority to heart.” (Pg. 136)
This book will interest those concerned with the contemporary application of Liberation Theology.