Popular Religion and Liberation

The Dilemma of Liberation Theology

By Michael R. Candelaria

Subjects: Liberation Theology, Religion
Series: SUNY series in Religion, Culture, and Society
Paperback : 9780791402306, 194 pages, July 1990
Hardcover : 9780791402290, 194 pages, July 1990

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Table of contents



1. Is Popular Religion Alienating or Liberating? An Overview

The double dimension of popular religion
Clarifying concepts: popular religion, popular culture, and popular people
Popular religion at Medellin and Puebla
Sample approaches to popular religion

2. People as the Subject of Liberation, Popular Religion and Popular Culture: The Liberation Theology of Juan Carlos Scannone

Liberation theology and the theology of the people
Contributing factors to the formation of the theology of the people
The theology of the people
Socioeconomic liberation or the evangelization of culture?

3. People as the Object of Liberation, Popular Religion, and the Mass-Minority Dialectic: The Liberation Theology of Juan Luis Segundo

Popular religion: a semantic problem
From the semantic problem to the problem of the universality of the church
The mass-minority dialectic
Universal-particular dilemma of the church: Christianity and the masses
Pastoral models in conflict

4. Shared Themes and Significant Differences: Toward a Possible Synthesis between the People as Subject and Object of Liberation

Secularized Uruguay and Roman Catholic Argentina
National history or an evolutionary outlook
Secularization and popular religion
Religion and faith
The people:subject or object of our liberation endeavors

5. Incarnating Myth in History

The principle of incarnation
Incarnation in social space
Incarnation in popular history
A shared common world
Fundamental criteria and guiding questions





Liberation theologians either argue for the liberating character of popular religion or they vilify it as alienating and otherworldly. This book takes a comprehensive and in- depth look at the issues, questions, and problems that emerge from the debate among liberation theologians in Latin America. The heart of the book consists of a comparative analysis of two prominent theologians, Juan Carlos Scannone from Argentina, and Juan Luis Segundo from Uruguay, who take opposite positions. Scannone sees popular religion as essentially liberating because it is from the people. Segundo disparages popular religion as a mass phenomenon incapable of revolutionary change and looks forward to its demise.

Candelaria synthesizes these contrary positions into a new paradigm for examining the question of popular religion and liberation. On the basis of this synthesis, he formulates a principle for articulating the relationship between popular religion and liberation and with special reference to the situation of Hispanics in the United States.

Michael R. Candelaria is Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at California State University, Bakersfield.