God's Politics

God's Politics


Alexia Salvatierra: La Alabanza es Medicina para el Alma (Praise is Medicine for the Soul)

posted by gp_intern

When elements of the recent Pew study on Hispanic religiosity were first published last summer, a number of my colleagues in movements for social justice were surprised. Many were also worried.

According to the study (conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life), 15% of the Hispanic community identifies as evangelical (which goes up by generation – a much higher percentage of Latinos are evangelical in the second generation than among immigrants.) Even more surprising for many of my non-Latino friends was that 34% of Hispanics identify as charismatic/evangelical Catholics (whose services and many of whose spiritual practices and faith disciplines are indistinguishable from non-Catholic evangelicals.) The implications? A little less than half of all Latinos in the U.S. are pursuing a form of faith that centers around a personal relationship with Jesus, ecstatic worship, direct experience of miracle (particularly miracles of healing) devotion to personal and small group Bible study, disciplined personal morality, and a strong network of mutual care among the members of the church.

As a member of the Hispanic community myself, a Lutheran pastor who has served Spanish-speaking congregations, and an organizer who works daily with Hispanic Catholics, I’m not surprised. I am also not worried, although I think that we are in a moment of opportunity and danger.

My companions in the struggle for economic and social justice are worried about the frequent correlation in the larger American culture between religious faith with these characteristics and a blatant disregard for the human and sacred rights of the poor and oppressed. My Hispanic, non-Christian comrades know the history of colonialism and how often a similar kind of religion has been used to distract and tranquilize the oppressed so that they can be more easily exploited. They have a point.

However, they are deaf and blind to the beauty of the movement of the Spirit in the Latino community at this historic, kairos moment, and the hope it could bring to this country. Why do we think that oppressed people will be less able and less likely to fight for justice if they are healed and strengthened by the intimate love of Jesus, the gifts of the Spirit, the care of their community? Couldn’t the opposite be true? The study also noted that the single greatest complaint of Hispanic congregants is that their leaders didn’t involve them enough in ministry to the community. The Bible is full of the call to economic and social justice – over 600 verses at my last count. If we who know the dangers of colonial interpretations take up the mantle to teach, we have a slowly awakening giant in our hands – one who could offer a new vision to the American people, a holistic vision of faith that integrates personal joy and healing, integrity, mysticism, the transforming power of scripture, real community, and the ancient progressive prophetic vision of justice. Andale!


Rev. Alexia Salvatierra is the Executive Director of CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice), an organization of religious leaders in Los Angeles county who support low-wage workers in their struggle for a living wage, health insurance, fair working conditions and a voice in the decisions that affect them.



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Wolverine

posted May 2, 2007 at 5:59 pm


It takes a while for Rev. Salvattierra to get to it, but in his conclusion he reveals the hidden assumption of the Christian left: The Pew study also noted that the single greatest complaint of Hispanic congregants is that their leaders didn t involve them enough in ministry to the community. The Bible is full of the call to economic and social justice over 600 verses at my last count. If we who know the dangers of colonial interpretations take up the mantle to teach, we have a slowly awakening giant in our hands one who could offer a new vision to the American people, a holistic vision of faith that integrates personal joy and healing, integrity, mysticism, the transforming power of scripture, real community and the ancient progressive prophetic vision of justice. Salvatierra apparently equates ministry with the pursuit of grievances. But what if the Hispanic Congregants just want to, you know, help out those around them, as opposed to debating against “colonial interpretations” of this that and thuther? I’m not hispanic so it’s possible I’m missing something. But I can’t help but wonder if Salvatierra is projecting his own progressive “Politics is everything” worldview onto a bunch of people who just want the church to do more old-fashioned charity work. Wolverine



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wayne

posted May 2, 2007 at 6:43 pm


Wolverine I am glad to see you think you might be missing something. It isn’t because your not Hispanic though. If we (the church) had done such a great job with “old fashioned charity” we might not be where we are today. Charity means “Agape” if I am not mistaken. Very little of “old fashioned charity” fairly resembles the true meaning of the word. It was, as it still is, too often demeaning and condescending to come close, (except perhaps, when done in close communities). Friendship probably comes nearer as, at least in part, it entails, taking the other’s side, defending, understanding, correcting, sharing, caring,and seeking justice, or what the OT refers to as “shalom”. Only someone who has either not seen injustice, or who has only recognized it when their own bull got gored, would respond negatively to Salvatierra’s words. Brother, there is nothing to complain about in his words here. wayne



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Wolverine

posted May 2, 2007 at 6:59 pm


Wayne, I can’t help but wonder what is “demeaning and condescending” about schools, tutoring, health clinics, hospitals, homeless shelters, drug counseling, alcohol rehab, youth sports leagues, spiritual counselling, and all that other stuff associated with old fashioned charity. Wolverine



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Payshun

posted May 2, 2007 at 7:44 pm


Wolverine, Most of the programs are not bad w/n themselves. What is bad about some of them is that some of the people in them no next to nothing about the cultures they do outreach to and some do some serious harm by being there.Alexia, We this society needs your witness from your immigrant and Latin roots. We need it desperately. It can and will help to heal the brokeness in my African community here. p



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wayne

posted May 2, 2007 at 10:17 pm


Wolverine



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wayne

posted May 2, 2007 at 10:31 pm


wolverine Your comments tacitly ignore that there are problems. There is no nostalgic period of time when “good old fashioned charity” was in “fact good or even charitable” unless it was also dignifying and friendly. Our brother here is refering to the mere pie in the sky christianity that was, and is still, used to asuage real injustice and keep many poor peoples oppressed. Hispanic’s know this all too well. The Earliest conquistadors made sure that the only images of Jesus were the meek and mild sort, baby Jesus in a manger, or Jesus still hanging on the Cross. It was forbidden to show Jesus triumphant or whipping the money changers out of the temple. No such models of Jesus to inspire the people to rise up against injustice were allowed. I certainly allow there are good instances of true charity. Why do you complain when someone points out the other? A full gospel not only allows for but demands that we plead for justice in the real world, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done here, right now, on Earth “just” as it is in heaven” is the model Jesus gave us for prayer and for “charity”.



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Sue Badeau

posted May 2, 2007 at 10:41 pm


Sojourners’ local activists in Philadelphia sponsored a forum on Faith and Poverty this past Sunday, a lively panel discussion featuring 4 panelists from diverse faith perspectives who are also active in local efforts to defeat poverty. One of the most memorable lines of the day came from the panelist who happened to be a Latina. She said “Nothing will change until we scream!” So, to Rev Salvatierra’s final word “Andale!”, I would add: Gritemos!



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Wolverine

posted May 2, 2007 at 11:49 pm


Wayne wrote: Our brother here is refering to the mere pie in the sky christianity that was, and is still, used to asuage real injustice and keep many poor peoples oppressed. Hispanic’s know this all too well. The Earliest conquistadors made sure that the only images of Jesus were the meek and mild sort, baby Jesus in a manger, or Jesus still hanging on the Cross. Um, is anybody here planning on resurrecting the conquistadors’ model of governance? I know I’m not. As a conservative, I’m much more interested in preserving our common law — civil society heritage, which we inherited from England. Anyway, since when did traditional charity amount to acquiescence to injustice? Apolitical charity work is just that: apolitical, neither supporting nor undermining the regime. I certainly allow there are good instances of true charity. Why do you complain when someone points out the other? That’s not my complaint. My concern was that Rev. Salvatierra was taking a poll in which people indicated they wanted to do “more ministry to the community” and assumed that this meant not only political activism but progressive political activism. Now maybe he has an explanation for how “ministry” means “political liberalism. I’d like to hear it.Wolverine



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Don

posted May 3, 2007 at 2:18 pm


Wolverine, I think you’re reading a lot of things into what Rev. Salvatierra (interesting name for a pastor, BTW!) has written. You seem to be presuming that she’s talking about left-wing, liberal, progressive, or whatever you want to call it, political activism. I’m not saying she isn’t acting on the “progressive” side; perhaps she is. I’m only saying that there is hardly enough information here to make that deterrmination. Maybe you should take a look at some actual examples of “ministry to the community” they are involved in before making these blanket assumptions. Rev. Salvatierra: I was fascinated with some of your statistics about the growth of evangelical Christianity in . My wife and I visited El Salvador last September and worked in an evangelical Christian school there. We were told that about 1/3 of Salvadorans now consider themselves evangelicals, and we saw evidence of that everywhere we went. Paz y alegr a,



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Don

posted May 3, 2007 at 2:20 pm


Oops! Didn’t finish the sentence: In the last paragraph, the sentence should read, “I was fascinated with some of your satatistics about the growth of evangelical Christianity in the Latino community here in the US.” D



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Wolverine

posted May 3, 2007 at 3:40 pm


Don wrote: You seem to be presuming that she’s talking about left-wing, liberal, progressive, or whatever you want to call it, political activism. Yup, and it’s a pretty reasonable presumption: “call to economic and social justice”, “the dangers of colonial interpretations”, “the ancient progressive prophetic vision (emphasis added). That’s very lefty rhetoric. I’m not saying she isn’t acting on the “progressive” side; perhaps she is. So basically you admit I might be right, but you still jump on me for reaching a conclusion that you admit is at least plausible. What’s up with that? Wolverine



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Don

posted May 3, 2007 at 4:09 pm


Wolverine: Here’s what’s up. I try to teach critical thinking in my classes, and one thing I try to emphasize is not to jump to conclusions before one has all the facts. You have jumped to conclusions. In your mind they are no doubt reasonable conclusions; nevertheless, you arrived at them before checking all the facts. Sure, Rev. Salvaterra might be speaking from what you consider to be a leftist positioin. But before you say that in this public forum, you should at least check it out first. The least you could do is go to her organization’s Web site and discover what kinds of “ministry to the community” this organization is engaged in. You might learn some things. At least then, when you announce that she’s promoting a leftist, progressive vision (if indeed that is what you discover), you would be basing that opinion on fact, not presumption. That’s all I meant. Later,



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Wolverine

posted May 3, 2007 at 5:22 pm


Don, Critical thinking means accepting that sometimes a conclusion is based on sound facts. For instance: 1. Rev. Salvatierra’s article is published on the website of a self-described liberal publication. The website also notes that the organization she leads supports “living wage” legislation, a very left of center cause. 2. She makes approving references to “social justice” and a “progressive” tradition. It seems to me I’m on pretty solid ground in saying that she generally promotes a liberal worldview. Now, look at her characterization of what she thinks hispanics mean when they call for more “ministry to the community”. It’s amazing to me that you cannot see a possible discrepancy. One last thing: I admitted twice that Rev. Salvatierra may have more information than I might on the thinking of Hispanics: quoting myself: …I’m not hispanic so it’s possible I’m missing something…Now maybe he (sic) has an explanation… Now I did apparently get Rev. Salvatierra’s gender wrong earlier, for which I apologize. But back to the main point. Don you say you teach critical thinking, so set aside your ideologal filters and ask yourself: who’s really jumping to conclusions here? Or is this is an example of “Those that can’t do, teach”? Wolverine



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Don

posted May 3, 2007 at 5:44 pm


Well, I’m not going to respond to your final line insult. But I think you know you were jumping to conclusions. Peace,



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kevin s.

posted May 3, 2007 at 9:06 pm


I’m not sure what your point is Don. Social justice is a code word for progressive political values on this blog. The Rev. is the ED of a group that supports left-wing political activism. There is no other sensible reading of the post. At all.Therefore, Wolverine’s point, which is that Salvatierra is engages in a bit of wishful thinking (and certainly jumping to conclusions herself) has merit.



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Don

posted May 3, 2007 at 9:41 pm


Okay, Kevin and Wolverine. Have it your way. Code language, whatever. I thought Rev. Salvatierra was talking about how the Holy Spirit is working among Latinos. I had to go to her organization’s Web site before I was convinced that they were engaging in political activism. You two are just way too suspicious of ideas you don’t personally agree with. Speaking as one whose own political leanings are more conservative than not, do you think it might be possible that the same Holy Spirit is energizing them to engagge the culture in the way that they are? Or do you really belive that God is only interested in what you would call “conservative” solutions? I really wish we could get beyond these political labels.



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Fred Price

posted May 3, 2007 at 9:52 pm


I envy the good Reverend’s husband. LOL



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kevin s.

posted May 3, 2007 at 10:50 pm


Don, Wolverine’s point (with which I agree) was that Salvatierra conflates her version of social justice with ministry. In fact, her colleagues are worried, and she sees a danger, in the fact that half of Hispanics are evangelical.Thus, not only does she support a ministry of social grievance, she is worried that, by embracing Christ as their savior, these evangelicals might not be so interested in the concept.She is worried that people are becoming Christians, lest they cease to support her left-wing pablum.Replace “social justice” with “support for the Iraq War” (or another policy you personally oppose), and I think you might see our point.



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Don

posted May 4, 2007 at 12:28 am


“She is worried that people are becoming Christians, lest they cease to support her left-wing pablum.” Your interpretation, Kevin. The fact that you used the pejorative phrase “left-wing pablum” here gives away your own biases. You and Wolverine also demonstrate your prejudices by characterizing her ministry as one of “social grievance.” Do you really know that is what she and her organization are doing? And the fact that you use the phrase “are becoming Christians” indicates another prejudice on your part–the implication that they weren’t Christians at all before they embraced evangelical forms of the faith. She says her colleagues have a point, and I think the point is this: much of American evangelicalism has been infected with the right-wing politics of Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, etc. Something she doesn’t want to be identified with, I’m sure. You and Wolverine despise Rev. Salvatierra’s outlook because you disagree with her political views. But she is right to point out that social justice is a major part of biblical witness. If you don’t like the way she is doing social justice, fine. Do it your way. There is a variety of gifts, but one Spirit. Neither of you, however, have demonstrated that the only “ministry” her group is involved with is what you would describe as left-wing, grievance-oriented political action. You simply arrived at that conclusion on the basis of your own biases. And that was my original point. Peace,



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kevin s.

posted May 4, 2007 at 1:24 am


“Do you really know that is what she and her organization are doing?” Yes, and her bio happens to be accurate.”the implication that they weren’t Christians at all before they embraced evangelical forms of the faith.” She noted that these are primarily secondary generations. In other words, they were born here and opted for this faith. I suppose some might have been catholic beforehand. “She says her colleagues have a point, and I think the point is this: much of American evangelicalism has been infected with the right-wing politics of Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, etc. Something she doesn’t want to be identified with, I’m sure.” Right, she wants to be associated with the politics of Schiori, Wallis and etc… But she is worried that, by becoming EVANGELICAL, they will cease to agree with her politics, or never come to agree with her politics. What an absurd concern. “You and Wolverine despise Rev. Salvatierra’s outlook because you disagree with her political views.” Despise? That’s a bit much. I would be equally concerned if someone on the right were worried that people embracing evangelical faith might draw them away from conservative politics. You have made the assumption that Wolverine and I care more about politics than about our faith.”If you don’t like the way she is doing social justice, fine. Do it your way. There is a variety of gifts, but one Spirit.” This would be good advice for her, wouldn’t you say? But again, if her concern were that they no longer support the Iraq War, you would be up in arms, yes?



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kevin s.

posted May 4, 2007 at 1:40 am


“Neither of you, however, have demonstrated that the only “ministry” her group is involved with is what you would describe as left-wing, grievance-oriented political action. You simply arrived at that conclusion on the basis of your own biases. And that was my original point.” Alright then, lets visit the website… I’ll try to be fair. Let’s see. They want to respond to the crisis of working poverty. Fair enough. What are they doing about it? Boycotting the Hilton hotel over the right of workers to unionize. Well, that’s a smidge left-leaning. Hmmm… Here’s an item on Jewish Muslim and Christian clergy calling for immigration reform. Maybe they want tougher borders? I’ll click the link. Oh, guess not.Oh, here’s a link to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Not exactly a politically moderate group. One of their policy initiatives is to hold Wal-Mart accountable. Is it safe to put that one in the liberal category.They fought Schwarzenegger’s special ballot initiatives, and seem happy that they failed.Under “victories”, there is a heading “Walmart loses”. Apparently, this organization essentially seeks to prevent any Walmart from opening.So, yeah, they are liberal. Our presumptions were 100% correct. Now why don’t those crazy Mexican evangelicals get with the program and start protesting Walmart? They would if they really cared about Jesus.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 4, 2007 at 2:57 am


Don, I agree with you that this was a good post. Pastor Salvatierra has made good points and I appreciate your openness to her expression of Christianity. I too like your vision of the Spirit working through people of different political persuasions. It would appear that some of the apprehension that Reverend Salvatierra mentioned about Latinos becoming Evangelicals is because so much of Evangelical movement became too narrowly focused on a few hot button issues that the right wing has used to co-opt the movement. These hot button issues, though important, have tended to blind some Evangelicals to other issues of equal or greater importance. Some of them have even made a god out of patriotism and love of country. But alas, Reverend Salvatierra states that we need not be concerned.Given the visceral attacks on Reverend Salvatierra, these apprehensions are not totally unfounded. But she has understood that the Spirit is greater than a commitment to some rigid political form and that a Christ-like community will be formed. She has understood that the Spirit is more important than some form of rigidly imposed orthodoxy that others would seek to use as a straight jacket to hobble charity. Firmes y adelante, Pastor Salvatierra.



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HASH(0x118accac)

posted May 4, 2007 at 3:15 am


President Ronald Reagan was ‘pro-immigrant’ awarding law breakers with the largest amnesty in recent history. He is also obviously conservative. Just because you and Tom Tancredo hold hate parties advocating for deportations en masse (or even deportation through attrition – even more cruel on many levels) does not mean that ‘conservatives’ cannot support the legalization of immigrants currently here without documents. Since when did hating immigrants become a ‘conservative’ value? Oh yeah you don’t hate immigrants only ‘illegal’ immigrants… I think this begs the question about labels that Don posed. I am Evangelical, anti-abortion, pro-immigrant, and would boycott a hotel if they were treating employees poorly, can I not be a ‘conservative?’ Says who? It appears to me Don is saying your rigid labels enable you to write off individuals quickly and therefore ignore any validity (or common ground) in what they say. Rev. Salvatierra seems like a nice lady who only wants Christians to think about personal responsibility AND just societal systems that, for instance, don’t depend on immigrant labor to amass huge sums of real estate wealth and then immediately start to deport everybody. That sounds like good theology, not ‘liberal code speak.’



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Sarasotakid

posted May 4, 2007 at 3:33 am


It appears to me Don is saying your rigid labels enable you to write off individuals quickly and therefore ignore any validity (or common ground) in what they say. Amen



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Don

posted May 4, 2007 at 3:37 am


Anonymous: I appreciate your defense of some the things I wrote, and agree that the kind of political activism Rev. Salvatierra talks about isn’t necessarily liberal or conservative, despite what some have tried to say. However, neither Wolverine nor Kevin in their debate with me said anything about immigrants, legal or undocumented, so I’m not sure why you bring this topic into the discussion. They can speak for themselves, of course, but I don’t think they would be holding “hate parties” as you call them. Peace, Peace,



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Wolverine

posted May 4, 2007 at 4:26 am


sarasotakid wrote: Given the visceral attacks on Reverend Salvatierra… Whoa, there! What “visceral attacks”? Wolverine



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Mark Douglass

posted May 4, 2007 at 5:09 am


Sigh…. Wish I knew what this conversation had to do with Jesus. Rev. Alexia is a powerful leader in the church. I had the privilege of working with her briefly at a Lutheran church in east Oakland, CA. Her preaching is Spirit-filled, her public witness is rich with love, and she “seeks the welfare of the city” wherever she is. Feel free to bandy about all the labels you like. I trust her work, and I trust her observations about the Hispanic Christian community are accurate. -md



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kevin s.

posted May 4, 2007 at 7:54 am


“These hot button issues, though important, have tended to blind some Evangelicals to other issues of equal or greater importance.” How are opposition to Walmart, Unionization and Illegal Immigration NOT hot button issues? They are just liberal hot button issues, which is the point.”Some of them have even made a god out of patriotism and love of country.” Not I. That has nothing to do with this discussion. “But alas, Reverend Salvatierra states that we need not be concerned.” Well, she says there are dangers. Should we not be concerned with dangers? “Given the visceral attacks on Reverend Salvatierra” Do you know what the word visceral means? You have used it incorrectly. “But she has understood that the Spirit is greater than a commitment to some rigid political form” I disagree. Again, she is advocating on behalf of her pet issues, and would rather that Christians simply agree that her issues are the important ones. She is no more or less rigid than any conservative. “She has understood that the Spirit is more important than some form of rigidly imposed orthodoxy that others would seek to use as a straight jacket to hobble charity.” Do you think political advocacy has an effect on orthodoxy? Does one form of political advocacy hobble charity, while the other does not? How so?



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kevin s.

posted May 4, 2007 at 8:03 am


“President Ronald Reagan was ‘pro-immigrant’ awarding law breakers with the largest amnesty in recent history. He is also obviously conservative.” Part of the promise of the 1986 immigration bill was to increase enforcement, which did not happen. “does not mean that ‘conservatives’ cannot support the legalization of immigrants currently here without documents.” Hmmm… Republicans do support legalization, out of conern for business. However, this is not a conservative perspective. The idea that we should allow the bending of laws to permit genuine exploitation of undocumented workers, at the expense of legal workers in America, isn’t conservative on any level. “Since when did hating immigrants become a ‘conservative’ value? Oh yeah you don’t hate immigrants only ‘illegal’ immigrants…” I don’t hate either. Calm down. “I think this begs the question about labels that Don posed. I am Evangelical, anti-abortion, pro-immigrant, and would boycott a hotel if they were treating employees poorly, can I not be a ‘conservative?’ Says who?” The organization in question uniformly proposes unionization as a solution to this quandary. This is not a conservative value. Look at Michigan if you want an example of how successful unions have been. “It appears to me Don is saying your rigid labels enable you to write off individuals quickly and therefore ignore any validity (or common ground) in what they say.” I am not ignoring what she has said. I am countering her argument. She has a pre-conceived notion of what it means to care about society. It is different from my own. It is utterly reasonable to point that out.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 4, 2007 at 12:17 pm


“Given the visceral attacks on Reverend Salvatierra” Do you know what the word visceral means? You have used it incorrectly. Kevin I was thinking of you and I correctly applied the term. Does one form of political advocacy hobble charity, while the other does not? How so? Kevin S. You need only look no further than yourself for the answer to that question. “Some of them have even made a god out of patriotism and love of country.” Sarasota. Not I. That has nothing to do with this discussion. Kevin S. Your unrelenting support of the war along with your refusal to in any way question the motives or actions of this administration is a form of idolatry. Idolatry of the State.



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Don

posted May 4, 2007 at 2:19 pm


Kevin wrote: “She has a pre-conceived notion of what it means to care about society.” Kevin, don’t you also have a similarly pre-conceived notion? Can you categorically and quantifiably demonstrate that yours is better than hers? And wasn’t that my initial point regarding Wolverine’s comments: that he (and you likewise) have jumped to conclusions about her ministries? Haven’t the things you have been saying here–and even more revealing, the ways you have been saying them–simply reinforced my comments that maybe the Holy Spirit is directing Rev. Salvatierra in a way that makes you uncomfortable? Like I said earlier, it’s too bad so many of us feel we have to hang labels on people. Can’t you simply allow Rev. Salvaterra and her community to serve God in the ways that they feel called without calling her on it–and without using pejorative language like “grievance ministry” and “left-wing pablum” to describe it? Mark Douglass: I appreciate your comments. I would really like to meet Rev. S. some day.Dios les bendiga!



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Sarasotakid

posted May 4, 2007 at 3:46 pm


Don, Your Spanish seems to be good. Where did you learn it?



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Wolverine

posted May 4, 2007 at 3:53 pm


This whole line of discussion has gotten so silly, the only way I can see to get this back into something constructive is to to straighten out what I actually said and to explicitly rule out some things I did not say, did not imply, but have been presumed to say by people who have their own prepackaged notions of conservatism. (I cannot speak for Kevin in every instance, although I suspect that a lot will apply to him as well.) My objection to Rev. Salvatierra’s original article was that she may have been misreading a poll of hispanic evangelicals, implying that those polled supported a liberal political agenda when in fact they may actually be more interested in more traditional, apolitical charity work. I think it’s fair to say that Rev. Salvatierra has fairly strong political leanings, and they fall in the category of “liberal” or “left-of-center”. This would put the two of us at disagreement on a lot of things, and that’s … okay. I’m not freaked out by the notion that people don’t agree with me. Now, to address a whole lot of things I did not say: I did not “jump to conclusions” because I did not claim perfect knowledge. I merely asked a question. Scroll on up to the very first post, it’s right there: I can’t help but wonder if… I phrased it as a question. I meant it as a question. I am allowed to ask questions, aren’t I? I would invite you (or Rev. Salvatierra, if she’s lurking) to address that question: How can you be so certain that hispanic evangelicals support Rev. Salvatierra’s political agenda? Nor is it my intention to declare Rev. Salvatierra anathema. I do not despise her views or “hate” her. I disagree with her politics. I also happen to disagree with my Mom’s politics, but that doesn’t mean I won’t visit her on Mother’s Day. Now, there are some commentors on this board (Donny comes immediately to mind) who are inclined to think that a theologically orthodox Christian must inevitably reject political liberalism. I am not one of them. I have a rather lengthy post on the Cal Thomas thread above where I explain that conservatism is not a theological imperative. There are some exceptions, but as a general rule my objections to liberalism are based on social science and history, not theology. To the extent I have theological issues with liberalism, she hasn’t tripped any of those. So while I would have no qualms about running Rev. Salvatierra out of my political party (assuming she would ever want to join in the first place) as of right now at least I have no reason to run her out of my church. I hope this clarifies things to a point where we can have a more constructive conversation.



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Don

posted May 4, 2007 at 4:16 pm


Sarasota: “Your Spanish seems to be good. Where did you learn it?” I don’t know how GOOD it is, but I had the good fortune of being tutored at a young age (along with my fellow third graders) by a Cuban refugee whose family had moved into my town during the early years of Castro’s regime. He had been a university professor in Cuba. Many of us went on to study the language through the rest of grade school and high school. When I went to college myself, I studied German, but never completely forgot the Spanish I had learned. I more or less retaught myself (through books and audio tutorials) before traveling to El Salvador last autumn. I still want to learn more. I would like to become fluent eventually; maybe that opportunity will come, God willing. BTW, “Dios le/les/te bendiga(s)” (depending on whom one is addressing) is the favorite greeting at the church and school in El Salvador where we worked. Wolverine: I appreciate your comments here, and I apologize if I misunderstood your concerns. Peace,



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kevin s.

posted May 4, 2007 at 4:56 pm


“Kevin, don’t you also have a similarly pre-conceived notion?” Yes. Can you categorically and quantifiably demonstrate that yours is better than hers?” Yes. But that isn’t the point. I would never demonstrate concern that someone is embracing the Christian faith simply because they might not be politically active in the way I prefer. Reading Wolverine’s comments, I generally concur.



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kevin s.

posted May 4, 2007 at 4:57 pm


“You need only look no further than yourself for the answer to that question.” How charitable.



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Carl Copas

posted May 4, 2007 at 6:49 pm


Mark Douglass, I’d like to hear more about Rev. Salvatierra.



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Payshun

posted May 4, 2007 at 6:58 pm


First things first, Fighting for more pay for workers is not just a liberal thing. Unionization is a liberal cause but I would think that conservatives would not want to categorize all unions as bad.The good Rev would be completely welcome in my party but then we like those activist types that champion workers rights.p



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kevin s.

posted May 4, 2007 at 8:36 pm


Payshun, The only workers rights advocacy in which they engage are unionization drives. The only non-laity member of their board of directors is the president of a union. It’s a union-advocacy group with a religious bent.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 4, 2007 at 8:56 pm


I would never demonstrate concern that someone is embracing the Christian faith simply because they might not be politically active in the way I prefer. Reading Wolverine’s comments, I generally concur. kevin s.No you would just berate them.



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Don

posted May 4, 2007 at 8:59 pm


So what’s wrong with unions? I used to dislike unions, until I worked for a company (run by Christians, too) that was so top-down and arbitrary in management style that a union would have done them a lot of good. Companies with lousy management that only looks after itself deserve unions. They provide minimal protections for workers. Can’t help but think that might be a good thing, at least sometimes. Not sure you can see the hand of God in that? Hmmm. Later,



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kevin s.

posted May 4, 2007 at 10:06 pm


“No you would just berate them.” Good grief, dude. Put your sword down, I’m not a windmill…



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kevin s.

posted May 4, 2007 at 10:09 pm


“So what’s wrong with unions?” Depends on the union. “I used to dislike unions, until I worked for a company (run by Christians, too) that was so top-down and arbitrary in management style that a union would have done them a lot of good.” I don’t think unions are the solution to lousy management. I have been in unions with pretty lousy managers. Either way, can you concede that demonstrating concern that faith might draw one away from unilateral support of unions (and, by extension, opposition to all things Walmart).



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Don

posted May 4, 2007 at 10:14 pm


“No you would just berate them.” Good grief, dude. Put your sword down, I’m not a windmill… But Kevin, your own words speak for themselves: “She is worried that people are becoming Christians, lest they cease to support her left-wing pablum.” “Now why don’t those crazy Mexican evangelicals get with the program and start protesting Walmart? They would if they really cared about Jesus.” “…not only does she support a ministry of social grievance…” Kevin, “berate” means to scold. Don’t you sense a scolding tone to these quotes from your previous posts? Think about it. Later,



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Don

posted May 4, 2007 at 10:21 pm


“Either way, can you concede that demonstrating concern that faith might draw one away from unilateral support of unions (and, by extension, opposition to all things Walmart).” But isn’t it possible that faith might also draw one to recognize problems with certain aspects of Wal-Mart’s modus operandi? Just asking,



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Payshun

posted May 4, 2007 at 10:27 pm


Kevin: The only workers rights advocacy in which they engage are unionization drives. The only non-laity member of their board of directors is the president of a union. It’s a union-advocacy group with a religious bent. Me: Well let’s take a look at this. Here are their current campaigns. http://www.cluela.org/current_campaigns.html Please explain how any of those campaigns are bad. Ok I have a question is it unionizing that you see as bad or that you don’t like that her faith has called her to do this. If you don’t like what she is doing fine.No one is saying or implying you are not Christian if you don’t support unions. Her faith means support and strengthening of them. that sounds good to me. p



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Mark Douglass

posted May 4, 2007 at 11:50 pm


I won’t be able to make it to the Pentecost 2007 gathering, but if I could, I would just to hear Rev. Salvatierra speak again. I’d heartily recommend anyone considering going to take time to listen to her. 12 years ago I came to the bay area as a 20-something Pac NW white-bread Lutheran kid, eager to study theology and get some time in the “big city.” I had just enough gospel music in my fingers to get a part-time position at St. John’s Lutheran in east Oakland, where Alexia was pastor. With her encouragement, praise, and occasional goading, I got to know our African and Hispanic American neighbors in the area, made friends with the kids, and helped organize a block party. She helped get my feet wet in community organizing, a skill I hope to apply more directly in a new church start here in Portland OR. (I’m puzzled about the off-topic rants/counter-rants in this response column that seem to have little to do with anything related to Alexia’s ministry. I’m a first-time visitor here. Is this typical? If it is, it’s kind of a drag.) Anyway, I wish her well in her organizing efforts among the Los Angeles hispanic community. -md



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kevin s.

posted May 5, 2007 at 2:08 am


“Kevin, “berate” means to scold. Don’t you sense a scolding tone to these quotes from your previous posts? Think about it.” Who was I scolding? Sarcastic, perhaps, but you were being awfully coy. Either way, Sarasota has devoted his last couple dozen posts to firing one-liners in my direction.”I’m a first-time visitor here. Is this typical? ” Yes.



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Sarasotkid

posted May 5, 2007 at 2:51 pm


I’m puzzled about the off-topic rants/counter-rants in this response column that seem to have little to do with anything related to Alexia’s ministry. I’m a first-time visitor here. Is this typical? If it is, it’s kind of a drag.)Mark Douglass Sadly enough some here have chosen to dissect her words and impugn her character rather than to see all of the good, positive things that she has done. So, with Kevin, I chime in “yes”.



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kevin s.

posted May 6, 2007 at 12:42 am


“Sadly enough some here have chosen to dissect her words and impugn her character rather than to see all of the good, positive things that she has done.” Nobody has impugned her character, or anything close.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 6, 2007 at 1:46 am


Nobody has impugned her character, or anything close. kevin s. What you have said is simply untrue, Kevin. Here are your exact words: “She is worried that people are becoming Christians, lest they cease to support her left-wing pablum.” kevin s. Here are Rev. Salvatierra’s words: “Why do we think that oppressed people will be less able and less likely to fight for justice if they are healed and strengthened by the intimate love of Jesus, the gifts of the Spirit, the care of their community?”This clearly was a rhetorical question posed by Reverend Salvatierra, meaning that she does not think that way. Not only did you misrepresent her sentiments and what she said but you stated that she is worried about people becoming christians lest they no longer support her left wing agenda. And you stated this notwithstanding the fact that she said just the opposite. You, Kevin, impugned Reverend Salvatierra’s character.And unless your name is “nobody”, the statement that you made (to wit, that “nobody” has impugned her character) is a bold faced lie.



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kevin s.

posted May 6, 2007 at 6:53 pm


You are correct, she is not worried that they will not embrace her left-wing values. She is confident that they will avert this scenario, although she is aware that there is danger.So, she is confident and hopeful that Hispanic evangelicals will support her fight for justice, and that her colleagues (who support left-wing values) ought not worry, because eventually that holy spirit will come around in them and they will learn to despise Walmart as well… She sees the unionization as absolutely vital to workers rights. She sees workers rights as necessary for social justice. I can guarantee you she would tell you the same thing. She does attribute a lot of her article to worries that her colleagues share, which isn’t entirely helpful, as it muddles the issue of the extent to which she herself is concerned. But my point (echoing Wolverine’s point) still stands. She equates hispanic evangelicals failing to support her causes as a “danger”. To question this is not to impugn her character. In general, Sojourners could benefit from more specificity when they talk about something as broad as “workers rights”. Workers right to what? If they are truly prophets, they can be more precise. I don’t think anyone accuse Jeremiah of being vague. You view disagreement as an assault. I understand that. You might do better to simply read a post and say “this person disagrees with something I believe”, as opposed to identifying each post as a personal attack fueled by anger and idolatry. Then you can simply deal with the issues, which is more persuasive and winsome than accusing everyone of idolatry and deceit.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 6, 2007 at 8:51 pm


Then you can simply deal with the issues, which is more persuasive and winsome than accusing everyone of idolatry and deceit. kevin s.The response was commensurate with the offense.



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Don

posted May 7, 2007 at 1:14 am


“You view disagreement as an assault.” Well, Kevin, if you could just discuss your disagreements in terms that were more objective and without resort to pejorative language like “left-wing pablum” and “grievance ministry,” then maybe fewer of us would consider your disagreement as an assault. Just a thought. Peace,



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kevin s.

posted May 7, 2007 at 5:00 am


“Well, Kevin, if you could just discuss your disagreements in terms that were more objective and without resort to pejorative language like “left-wing pablum” and “grievance ministry,” then maybe fewer of us would consider your disagreement as an assault.” So, everytime refers to the neocon agenda as evil, ignorant, or what have you, I am thereby entitled to respond as though I am being attacked? I can simply ignore arguments and respond with nasty one-liners and call everyone trolls and idolators? That doesn’t hold water.If you can’t separate the ideological from the personal, you need to grow up.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 7, 2007 at 11:57 am


If you can’t separate the ideological from the personal, you need to grow up. kevin s. There’s just one problem with your logic, Kevin. You personally insulted Reverend Salvatierra and you are so busy defending justifying your misdeeds that you cannot even see that. That is sad.



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Don

posted May 7, 2007 at 1:01 pm


Kevin: You’re passing the buck. You’re trying to take the heat off your own inflammatory argumentative style by pointing out similar problems with others’. Don’t worry about how others frame their arguments. Try working on yours. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time to deal with others’ use of inflammatory language, if and when we need to. And why do you feel you’re entitled to respond in kind when someone attacks you? Whatever happened to turning the other cheek? Maybe if you responded graciously to an attack, it would defuse the situation and make the attacker look ridiculous. Later,



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kevin s.

posted May 7, 2007 at 5:50 pm


“You’re passing the buck. You’re trying to take the heat off your own inflammatory argumentative style by pointing out similar problems with others’.” I simply respond to the arguments. if you find a comment incendiary, feel free to point it out. I don’t consider my remarks to be inflammatory. Generally, things are fine. occassionally, someone decided to play decorum police (usually, hypocritically so.) “And why do you feel you’re entitled to respond in kind when someone attacks you?” If I responded in kind on this board, things would get a lot nastier, quick.



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Mark Douglass

posted May 7, 2007 at 7:21 pm


“In general, Sojourners could benefit from more specificity when they talk about something as broad as “workers rights”. Workers right to what? If they are truly prophets, they can be more precise. I don’t think anyone accuse Jeremiah of being vague.” Kevin, this is a good question and a good critique. Here in Oregon many of the day laborers in the agricultural sector have unionized. PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste – or Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United) began a number of years ago as a result of the harsh and arbitrary labor practices that many farmers saw as the norm in hiring migrant labor. They’ve since become a force for “worker’s rights” in the Willamette Valley, seeking recognition and fair compensation for the work they do. (More info at http://www.pcun.org.) Their organizing work has clearly benefited the lives of these laborers, but has also fostered a very complicated dialogue among many in Oregon. My uncle owned a farm outside Salem for many years, and PCUN’s demands basically forced his hand and turned him toward retirement from a lifelong vocation he loves. On the other hand, many former hispanic immigrants and their children are now able to establish themselves and contribute substantially to the local and regional economy through taxes (through legally acquired wages), volunteer hours (something impossible to give unless you have leisure time), and civic participation (voting and running for elected office). There is the additional complication of illegal immigrants and their status – I won’t go into it here, but simply mention that the national dialogue is continuing and will have an impact on PCUN and the farmers here. Speaking of Jeremiah, check out Jeremiah 34 and see what God has to say about “slave labor.” I see some direct applications to the question of the admittedly vague term “workers’ rights,” and the work that PCUN has done to reconcile hispanic and hispanic american “slaves” with the “masters” in agriculture. Ok, should I duck and cover, or can I trust you for a measured response? -md



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kevin s.

posted May 8, 2007 at 12:11 am


“can I trust you for a measured response?” Of course. As I see it, we are called not to exploit our labor. Slavery is biblically unacceptable, partly for the reason you mention. For me, this is one of the reasons I am leery of amnesty for illegal immigrants. Truly, this issue has created some strange bedfellows, from the Chamber of Commerce to groups like CLUE. However, amnesty-type programs legitamize a practice by which workers are exploited. So unions are proposed as the solution to this problem. However, while they may help in the short term, they have the potential to incentivize the employ of illegal immigrants. Further, they often tend to have the effect of pricing employees out of the market. In the political sphere, unions use strong-arm tactics (they are not alone, obviously). A defeat for Walmart is a win for unions. I don’t see where it is vital for hispanic evangelicals to help fight Walmart (or hotels or whomever) on behalf of unions. When I was at school, student-advocate wanted our food-service employees to unionize. The workers voted against it. Aramark was then accused of corruption and bullying tactics (none of which was substantiated). It was politics, pure and simple. It was about union strength, not workers rights.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 8, 2007 at 2:37 am


“slavery is biblically unacceptable, partly for the reason you mention. For me, this is one of the reasons I am leery of amnesty for illegal immigrants.” Kevin, please explain your rationale on this. From what I have seen, as long as foreign nationals are illegal, they run the risk of greater exploitation. As long as employers are breaking the law in employing illegal immigrants, they hold their illegal status over their head to pay them lower wages. I have seen that scenario play itself out many many times. Where I think the conservatives have won the immigration debate is that they insist on the border being secured. (Although having lived on the border, I have no idea of how that can be done).In my view the best thing to do would be to grant some sort of legal status to the illegals already here but to make sure that this unregulated entry of people is stopped. That can only be accomplished by a stronger border and a way of making it so cost prohibitive for employers to hire illegals that they won’t do it.



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Mark Douglass

posted May 8, 2007 at 5:50 am


Thanks for this dialogue! I’m torn on the issue, honestly. Scripture is torn on the issue too. There’s the story of Ezra, who acted on God’s word by commanding the Israelites to separate themselves from “foreign wives.” Then there’s the story of Ruth, a foreigner who is welcomed into the people of Israel. Deport? Assimilate? I’d guess that any sort of policy to address illegal immigration will need both in differing circumstances. But if we are agreed that our common goal is to end the wage-slavery that has been the prevailing norm among immigrant laborers in America (and I think Jesus would be with us on this one, cf. Luke 4), then who’s to say that we can’t faithfully work both sides of the issue? Alexia’s position is clearly stated, but I wonder what a conservative position of faith on this issue would look like. Here’s a stab. Strengthen the borders. Make the system for deportation quick and compassionate. The bigger challenge for conservatives might be to take on their NAFTA backers to advocate for living wage work south of the border, creating a disincentive for leaving Mexico to work. Maybe someone else has thought this through more thoroughly than me – I’d love to see a conservative proposal for comprehensive immigration reform that takes Luke 4 into account.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 8, 2007 at 11:34 am


The bigger challenge for conservatives might be to take on their NAFTA backers to advocate for living wage work south of the border, creating a disincentive for leaving Mexico to work. Mike Douglass I think that that is the problem. The promise of NAFTA was that there would be significant job creation in Mexico thus obviating the need for Mexicans to hop the border and come here. It had the opposite effect. Our cheap, subsidized agricultural products gained access to the Mexican market. That caused an agricultural crisis in Mexico. The farm laborers left the countryside. Went to the cites. Found no work and headed north to the United States. I don’t think we have it in us as a nation (at least I hope not) to kick out 12 to 20 million people. Imagine the human tragedy. Many of these people have US citizen kids. It would be utterly horrible. BUT having said that, the politicians need to be forced to control our borders and make sure that this same situation does not repeat itself in 20 years. A tall order. A pretty conservative organization, the Southern Baptist Convention came out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform: http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/amResolution.asp?ID=1157 It’s a tough issue.



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Don

posted May 8, 2007 at 1:05 pm


Mark and Sarasota: Indeed a tough issue. It’s hard to be fair and compassionate on the one hand, but still wince when seeing people, both migrants and their employers, taking advantage of the flaws in the legal system. Strengthening the borders, though, doesn’t really work, at least not the ways we have tried so far. Desperate migrants will probably still find a way in, and the increased border security ends up causing a humanitarian crisis as migrants try to cross in relatively unguarded, remote desert areas and thus put their lives in danger. I think Mark hits the nail on the head. I’ve been saying all along that the only real long-term solution to the undocumented migration problem will occur when and if workers are able to earn decent livings at home. A really tall order, though. The problems with NAFTA are really only the tip of the iceberg. The root of these problems stems from the endemic political corruption and the resulting inadequate infrastructures that exist in many Latin American countries. Things just can’t be counted on to “work” there with any degree of certainty. It’s difficult for thriving businesses to take root in such a climate. Peace,



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Sarasotkid

posted May 8, 2007 at 2:02 pm


True, Don. If you can find a solution to graft and corruption down there, you will be a Nobel Prize laureate.



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Don

posted May 8, 2007 at 2:30 pm


The corruption isn’t limited to the stereotypical government officials and police officers, either. Maybe someday I’ll have a chance to talk about the road to La Magdelena.



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Mark Douglass

posted May 8, 2007 at 6:09 pm


Maybe this is a good time to come back around to Alexia’s earlier point, about the connection between faith and politics. I read in the paper this morning about the pope’s imminent visit to Brazil in the hope of stemming the tide of catholics turning to forms of protestant and pentecostal faith. Rome has long neglected the missio dei in latin america to be a neighbor to those in poverty, and is now reaping the whirlwind as those latino/as in poverty ditch Rome while meeting Jesus in their own experience.Here in north america, the reverse has been true. Protestant christians (mainline in the 19th/20th centuries, evangelical in the 20th/21st) have been the ones to neglect the missio dei. Latino/as in poverty here have brought with them the “base communities” that emerged in Central America in the 1980s, and have been energized by liberation theology/preferential option for the poor – a theology straight out of Roman catholic experience (though Rome denies it). How will God call us (who claim to follow Jesus) to faithfully engage the challenges we are meeting at the border? Are faithful Mexicans called to stay home and change their own system, or take the risk of coming north in order to change ours? And we faithful US Christians – are we called to welcome them in gospel partnership to this land, or travel home with them to take on the graft and corruption in their home governments?



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