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Posted May 9, 2006

Book: On Being Human: U.S. Hispanic and Rahnerian Perspectives
Author: Miguel H. Diaz
Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2001, pp.156

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

“But today, in the age of a uniform humanity, a humanity that seeks to accord all its members equal rights and majority of age, the Church may no longer permit itself to remain a European Church exporting Western Christianity to the whole world. Now it must really become a world Church.” – Karl Rahner

As a result of the Second Vatican Council’s invitation to “read the signs of the times,” and to interpret these signs in light of Christian faith and doctrine, Catholic thought has witnessed the explosion of numerous contextually rooted theological visions. Among other things, a wide range of gender, social, political, and cultural experiences have informed these visions. This book studies one of these visions. It explores emerging U.S. Hispanic Catholic theological anthropology, and sets this vision in conversation with the leading Catholic theologian since the Council, namely, Karl Rahner. This conversation will increase the understanding of the U.S. Hispanic theological anthropology, especially with respect to the way this anthropology fits – in a unique way – into the Catholic tradition.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Although “Hispanic-Americans” roots are among the oldest in the U.S. landscape, as a result of various social, political, and religious practices that have gradually prevailed, little is known of this cultural heritage. When we think of the founding ethos of the U.S. landscape, rugged individualism and Anglo-Protestantism generally come to mind. This vision is in stark contrast to the communally oriented and medieval Spanish Christian Catholic ethos, which originally informed Latin America and most of the Southeastern and Western parts of what is now the United States. Glossing over any U.S. history text would be sufficient to realize the historical biases that favor “Anglo-American” cultural perspectives. Sadly, but truly, other cultural and religious traditions have been to a large extent suppressed. The following remarks by the leading Protestant U.S. Hispanic theologian, Justo L. Gonzalez, have invited a more just retrieval and re-envisioning of “American” traditions.

When I began teaching in Atlanta, Georgia, I opened my first lecture by telling my students that there was a time when Havana – not Savannah, Georgia, but Havana, Cuba – was the capital of Georgia. And then I went on to say, “Welcome, y’all furriners.” This was intended only as a joke, but it may also serve to point out a fact often forgotten: As far as time is concerned, it is not the Hispanic-American but the Anglo-American who is the newcomer to this country. Nineteen years before the British founded their first colony in the land that Sir Walter Raleigh called Virginia, the Spanish based in Cuba founded a city that still exists in Saint Augustine, Florida. And twelve years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, the Spanish founded the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Table of Contents:

1. Exploring What Is “Hispanically” Human
2. On Being Human from U.S. Hispanic Perspectives
3. On Being Human from U.S. Hispanic Sacramental Perspectives
4. On Being Human from Rahnerian Perspectives
5. A Conversation