Month: March 2013
Juana Ramírez de Asbaje, most widely known by her professed title Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, was born and raised in seventeenth century modern-day Mexico, then the colony of New Spain. She was a nun, literary genuis and defender of women’s rights. She was also widely known throughout Spain and Mexico for her intelligence, wit and beauty. In feminist circles, she is remembered for her fervent defense of women’s right to education and her passion for knowledge. Her passionate love of truth, which she defined as a favor bestowed on her by God, did not change the reality that in her social context, women who wrote were a serious threat to the hierarchy, associated with the devil. Throughout her life Sor Juana would have to balance her inclination to learn and the power of the Inquisition, which during her time-period investigated, accused and killed seventy-five percent more women than men for heresy. Unlike most nuns, Sor Juana was politically engaged in the two powerful institutions of her times, first as lady-in-waiting in the vice-royal court, later as nun within the jurisdictions of the magisterial church. As a woman and writer she was a target and threat the Spanish and ecclesial order. Despite the threats this brought to her life, she continued to critique the gendered social codes of her time, as well as the mass violence men imposed upon women reinforced by patriarchal values. Scholars affirm the uniqueness of her voice which gave a new perspective of a newly emerging Mexican nation and the challenges this state endured under Spanish colonial rule. Upon her death, the church sought to erase her memory by burning the books she had written and were published in Spain by her friends in the vice-royal court. At the time, the church did not acknowledge or recognize Sor Juana’s contribution to this world. Rather, it would be her kindred spirit, secular leader and friend Don Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora, who would say in his eulogy in honor of her: There is no pen that can rise to the eminence that is hers. During her life-time, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz modeled both exemplary faith and leadership with the Roman Catholic Church. Throughout her life and to the present she has been given numerous titles such as the last great author of Spain’s Golden Age, Tenth Muse of Mexico, Mexican Phoenix and First Feminist of the Americas, North and South. Today she shares with many feminists the common concerns of race, class and gender and how these three variables influence and oppress not only women but all other marginalized individuals.
This past weekend I was blessed to be on a wonderful panel with two other U.S. Latino Theologians. The theme for the entire panel was “Latino/a Religiosity and the 21st Century American Political Experience.” The moderator of the panel was Paul A. Rodriguez, current Claremont Graduate University student in the Philosophy in Religion department and professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Panelists included myself, Sammy Alfaro, Pentecostal pastor and professor at the Grand Canyon University in Arizona and Patrick Reyes, an up-in-coming U.S. Latino scholar currently enrolled in Claremont Lincoln University’s Ph.D. program in the field of Christian Religious education. The themes that threaded all three presentations were the misuse of ideologies and power in U.S. Public Life. Personally, I critiqued the Jewish Christian term, “alien,” that I argue is re-appropriated in the full title of the Dream Act, “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors,” to support an anti-immigrant agenda against visitors residing in our country. In my research I discovered two things with regards to the term alien as it is used in U.S. legislation and the Bible. First, I was appalled to learn that our government has created a caste system of the term alien in our country. The Immigration and Nationality Act castes residents of our country as follows, “resident” and “non-resident aliens,” “immigrant” and “nonimmigrant aliens,” “documented” and “undocumented aliens” and “refugee aliens” seeking asylum in our country. I emphasize the term alien in each category because it best relays the power of the word in labeling a person and limiting their humanity in the process. Interestingly, I also discovered that the Hebrew term, “ger,” used to describe individuals residing in ancient Hebrew territories is best translated as “stranger,” not “alien.” For me, this nuance has the potential to create a counter narrative to a U.S. anti-immigration narrative that oppresses visitors currently residing in our country. I also learned that the origins of the term alien dates to the fourteenth-century and thus cannot truly reflect the authentic meaning of the Scriptures. It’s origins come from the Latin term alienus that is most often associated with the term alienated. In terms of a U.S. Public Theology, I believe that religious educators today are obligated to use our educational training in theology and Bible to help individuals within our faith communities to discuss this term in light of our respective faith traditions. Further, as religious educators I believe our role is to give a voice to the migrant peoples residing in our land. To do so, I invite religious educators to engage the biblical principles of our individual faith traditions so that we can offer a counter narrative to the U.S. anti-the-alien narrative in our country. I ended the presentation with the following two quotes. The first is cited in the proposed Dream Act for 2013. It says, “[T]here needs to be a final solution for Dreamers and other immigrants in the U.S. to legalize their status in 2013.” The latter quote is a prayer created by a group of ecumenical theologians and pastoral leaders associated with the group the, “Evangelical Immigration Table.” Their prayer is: “God, guide our leaders in 2013 to write legislation for immigration reform in line with your Word, and give us the persistence to contact our legislators and press for biblical reform.” Amen
I’ve just finished my Ph.D. at Claremont Graduate University and am now exploring blogging as a platform to express my ideas. I am interested in blogging and technology for two reasons. First because I believe it is a powerful medium for me to be an effective teacher in a twenty-first century context. Second because I am interested in exploring how blogging might contribute to my own pedagogical commitments, such as having a bio-centric classroom.