Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Shopping and salvation

One feature in San Salvador are several very large shopping malls. They are popular gathering places, and also are a place for spiritual nourishment reports the Chicago Tribune:

At the food court in the Galerias Escalon shopping mall, a young restaurant employee is getting out the word. She passes out fliers advertising the lunch specials at Los Cebollines, including the $4.50 Super Ranchero combo.

A few feet away, others are getting out The Word.

Each day, the San Jose Chapel offers a Catholic mass and even the sacrament of reconciliation. For a few moments, dozens of shoppers and mall employees exchange Armani and Adidas for Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

The unlikely pairing between faith and commerce makes perfect sense in El Salvador where they love their malls. Although poverty persists, the high-rise malls draw well-to-do residents who seek air conditioning and a taste of the U.S. in a secure environment....

The website for the Galerias shopping center includes a
web page for the chapel
. Somehow I doubt they are preaching liberation theology with its preferential option for the poor at the chapel's services.

6 comments:

El-Visitador said...

« who seek air conditioning and a taste of the U.S. in a secure environment...»

The failure of the State to provide for a safe and secure country has resulted in public places being, effectively, privatized.

Can you go sit in a bench in downtown San Salvador for a bit of reading or people watching? You can, at your own peril.

Can you sit in a bench in La Gran Via shopping center? You can, safely and securely. Private goons make sure you are. Malls are our new downtown.

But malls are sterile places. Where is the little hole-in-the-wall eatery by an enterprising pupusera? Where is the bohemian café by the creative college dropout? Where the tiny used book shop by the entrepreneurial retired college professor? Where is the soapbox preacher?

Malls can never replace the civic value of a well-policed street. A government that has 1/2 to 1/4th of the cops that a population our size needs is a government that has neglected its most basic duties.

El-Visitador said...

«liberation theology with its preferential option for the poor at the chapel's services»

You are peddling propaganda.

Lenin and Mao both said they defended the interests of the peasantry, yet they did not hesitate to shoot hundreds of thousands of peasants, nor to starve to death millions of Ukranian and Chinese peasants.

Likewise, Lib theology says they "opt for the poor", but they are just a facade for naked Marxism.

Look at the places where liberation theology has reached its Marxist goals: Cuba. Nicaragua. The Salvadorean countryside, with its economically and socially catastrophical Reforma Agraria.

You are confusing Marxist propaganda with actual, real Marxist results. Liberation theology further impoverishes the poor, deprives them of opportunity, and imprisons them.

Rusty said...

This church caters to the Arab-Salvadorean (los Turcos, como les dicen en El Salvador) population who live in the Capital.

chishi said...
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chishi said...
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chishi said...

"Somehow I doubt they are preaching liberation theology with its preferential option for the poor at the chapel's services".

You are right. They are not. They have historical, political, and strategic reasons not to preach Liberation Theology.

Liberation theology in its asception in El Salvador- as an integral part of a revolutionary movement- contributed to two very specific things, among others, by multiple different means and given many, here unnamed, causes, which were under responsibility of both warring parties. These two specific things that the T of L contributed to in El Salvador, were:

1-The T of L Reduced the commitment of many catholics to their churches and priests, and made them distance themselves, principally, from the Catholic Faith, and practically, from the catholic CHURCH. These people finally opted out in favor of the, then more spiritually epiphanous and cathartic southern Baptist movement, which had sent Missionaries from the U.S., to preach in droves with that southern twang that is found in the pen of Mark Twain, “Da good gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Those Baptist preachers from under the Bible Belt found fertile ground to sow the seed in El Salvador, and in this respect, Liberation Theology made possible for evangelicals to be today a good 40+ % of people in El Salvador.

How? Among other reasons that helped to this transformation:

Well, if you went to church in a 3rd world country, and you had very little means of existance, probably a sickness in the family, and the state and the econo-social system was all absent in those fields to your benefit. If then we add to those conditions the fact that you had a couple of kids and that a war was raging around you, and you didnt know if you would live, die, have a loved one be killed, or be jobless at some point in time. Under all the above mentioned conditions, many born and raised catholics went to a church, a Catholic one, where a priest was trying to liberate their conscience through contributing to have an impact in a dangerously violent political system. Once in church these catholics saw that said kind of theologically liberating priest is being disappeared, and sometimes found, in great violence. And that is when MANY OF THE FLOCK CHANGED FAITH, RELIGION, PROPHETS, and yes, CHURCHES.

But what is the underlining cause that pushed people away from the practice of the T of L? Which is the cause, the deeply rooted one? The one that went beyond an easy accusation of not being brave enough to take on the State with the Liberation Theologians? After all, Families living through a war and going out every day, to work, to school, to live life, ARE ALREDY VERY BRAVE. And so, Why, did people left the catholic churches because of the T of L?

Because people go to church to solve their problems, not to spend their already weakened strengths in the road to getting into different, and probable deadly ones. Yes, many may think there is a beauty in the sacrifice made by some to achieve social communion, but 40+% of Salvadoreans begged to think differently, and they went Baptist. This 40+% of salvadoreans tasted the pentecostal revival practices of the southern baptists, and many of them felt the cathartic good of the Spirit and the Holy Ghost coming down from above, in the midst of sounds uttered in purportedly dead tongues. They shook and rolled, and had a psycho-somatic catharsis, that even touched their physical existence, and which is the equivalent of a spiritual gymnasium. In their serch of spiritual Freedom, they avoided what they considered to be Polticial Liberation, they left Catholicism and went Baptist. And this happened naturally for them, since they would basically assume something to the tune of a spiritual reaffirmation such as “Amen, Brutha, for so sayeth da lord that would come to happen”. That fixes many things, and thank God it did, at least for those around me at the time.

The Chapel is catholic in the mall, and the people who use it know how, and who to pray to from experience and belief. It is simply a fact that the MAJORITY of the catholic church is not from the T of L, not only in El Salvdor, but in the rest of the WORLD, even if there are philosophically, historically and spiritually important pockets of the T of L in many places, including El Salvador.

2- The Theology of Liberation was also causal to Spreading the word of solidaritarian philosophies on behalf of the pursuit of a revolution, through violent means and the weapons of the FMLN. It was a violent revolution at the end, even if it was in response to years of repression, economical and politicial. And yes, Solidaritarian sounds just like totalitarian, as the revolutionary strategy was bound to be undemocratic. Dissent WAS NOT permited and for practical purposes could not be fostered, as it was considered a suspicious betrayal in the face of a war of low intensity, fought by us as proxys, in the heat of the tropic, in the cold war that was being fought by those more powerful than us, in many other scenarios at multiple levels.

And those two, among many things, positive and perhaps impredictable, negative and probably decisive, to use some adjectives, were two things to which the Theology of Liberation contributed to, in El Salvador.

Clearly, an encyclopedia would be necessary to explore this phenomenon. These are very ad hoc observations that imply neither a disrespect to the Catholic or the Christian Evangelical Churches, which have been decisive actors of the recent history of El Salvador, enjoying and suffering the consequences of being so.

Regards,