Liberation Theology for Armchair Theologians Info

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In this helpful addition to the Armchair Theologians series,
Miguel A. De La Torre provides a concise overview of the global
religious movement known as liberation theology that focuses on defining
the major themes of this movement, as well as dispelling some common
misconceptions. Liberation theology attempts to reflect upon the divine
as understood from the poor, the marginalized, and the disenfranchised.
The key figures, historical developments, and interfaith manifestations
are all explored in this thorough introduction. Expertly written by De
La Torre and accompanied by Ron Hill's illustrations, this book will
serve as a primary text for those who may have little knowledge of or
have never heard of liberation theology.


Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Liberation Theology for Armchair Theologians:

5

Nov 02, 2013

I have long had an interest in Liberation Theology, at least as early as my seminary days in the early -mid 1980s. The worldhas changed much in the past thirty years, and the Latin Americn version of liberation theology may seem dated and outmoded, but the idea of liberative themes and tenets within the Christian faith and other faith traditions is not dated.

Miguel De La Torre offers us a brief and accessible introduction to Liberation Theology in its many forms. It is a contribution to WJK's I have long had an interest in Liberation Theology, at least as early as my seminary days in the early -mid 1980s. The worldhas changed much in the past thirty years, and the Latin Americn version of liberation theology may seem dated and outmoded, but the idea of liberative themes and tenets within the Christian faith and other faith traditions is not dated.

Miguel De La Torre offers us a brief and accessible introduction to Liberation Theology in its many forms. It is a contribution to WJK's Armchair Theologians tradition. There is, of course irony in this title, for Liberation Theology is by its very nature focused on doing -- on acting -- on getting out of our arm chairs in the pursuit of justice.

It is a brief book, but it gives a fairly thorough overview of all facets. If you've heard of Liberation Theology -- perhaps from Glen Beck -- but know little, this is a book for you. If you've read a bit, but need a refresher, this is a good place to start.

And for anyone, even folks who have explored it with some depth, this is still a good book to use to reflect on how the theme of liberation can and should be central to our faith. And for those of you who are like me white and middle class, this is a reflection that needs to be had!

Take and read! ...more
5

Oct 01, 2016

The title is ironic and cheeky, but this book provides a very accessible introduction to liberation theology, why it came about, and how it's done. It's short, so it's a quick read and I'd recommend it to anyone who's looking for a starting point in studying liberation theology.
3

Feb 09, 2015

Very interesting and powerful. Very accessible even though it was an academic subject and written by an academician. I think I'm a liberation theologist myself.
4

Aug 25, 2015

A very handy, easy-to-read book for anyone who is interested in theologies of liberation.
3

Nov 19, 2013

Maybe 3½. The author was much better at telling what L.T. wasn't than what it was, and then exhorted us to go out and do it.
4

May 02, 2017

An excellent quickie overview: it's a good place to start, and I like the cartoons.
3

May 31, 2019

The best part of this book are Ron Hills cartoons which are on almost ever page. I think the writing is too narrow in scope with regard to specific causes. Its written from one academic perspective looking at all of the worlds marginalized people through the lens of systemic structural oppression. After 150 pages or text and cartoons there are only four pages of notes and three pages of further reading so its not well researched for other ideas or expressive of other possibilities. The author The best part of this book are Ron Hill’s cartoons which are on almost ever page. I think the writing is too narrow in scope with regard to specific causes. It’s written from one academic perspective looking at all of the world’s marginalized people through the lens of systemic structural oppression. After 150 pages or text and cartoons there are only four pages of notes and three pages of further reading so it’s not well researched for other ideas or expressive of other possibilities. The author clearly promotes his premise that poverty is the result of structural oppression intentionally imposed by the elite ruling class for the benefit of the elite ruling class. Could there be any other possible reasons or combination of causes for the marginalized underclass. What are the possibilities or the relationships between different marginalized communities and whether helping one oppressed group will help others? It’s not explored. He does state that a theological voice from the margins of society will always exist so liberation theologians will always have a job and that job is to act. ...more
3

Nov 04, 2019

A good explanation, and coverage, of the issues surrounding the oft neglected field of Liberation theology. It led my future reading in unexpected directions by providing some suggestions with regard future topics of interest. A good overview of the evolution of theological thought (however I think it is unfortunate that at the moment most religious practices are disregarding the original liberative thought).






















4

Feb 01, 2014

As I have said many times, the Bible says whatever you want it to say. If you want it to be about God making you rich (the Prosperity Gospel), it is. If you want it to be about sin and damnation, it is. If you want it to be about the glories of America, it is. If you want it to be a rousing call to socialism, it is. If you want it to be a defense of free-market capitalism, it is. Do you want the Bible to condemn gay people? It will. Do you want the Bible to embrace gay people? It can do that, As I have said many times, the Bible says whatever you want it to say. If you want it to be about God making you rich (the Prosperity Gospel), it is. If you want it to be about sin and damnation, it is. If you want it to be about the glories of America, it is. If you want it to be a rousing call to socialism, it is. If you want it to be a defense of free-market capitalism, it is. Do you want the Bible to condemn gay people? It will. Do you want the Bible to embrace gay people? It can do that, too. The Bible is a complex text, and it says what you want it to say. That's just how it is.

In this book (hardly the first I've read on the topic) the Bible says that God has a preferential option for the poor, and that Jesus is a liberator. This hermeneutic is called 'liberation theology,' and it is fascinating stuff. It began in Central and South America in the 60s and 70s as a theological response to the economic and politic oppression being experienced by the poor. It got itself caught up with Marxism and the Cold War in the 80s, and has now been relegated to the shadows beneath a growing Pentecostalism. Liberation theology is the bane of Pope Benedict and the foundation (at least I think so) of Pope Francis. There is no single, or definitive, liberation theology. According to the author, "all theology is rooted in the social location of those seeking faith-based responses to their situation" (pg. 44). In other words, the details of the theology, the praxis, is rooted not in some timeless interpreation or tradition, but in the immediate experiences of those who are 'the least, the last, and the lost' in this dark world. Liberation theology tells the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed that God is both with them and one of them, and that structures of sin are more damaging (and damning) than individual sin. The Bible must be read in a 'hermeneutical circle', which "interprets the word of God in the light of the present situation faced by the oppressed" (pg. 70). The purpose of the Church is to struggle against oppression with the poor, not to offer Eurocentric platitudes about pie in the sky when you die oh my.

As you can imagine, none of this was popular with the powers that be, whether those powers were right wing capitalist governments supported by the anti-Communist United States, or by the Catholic Church (or by Glenn Beck!). All of this is certainly an interesting way to read the Bible, and I can see why liberation theology is appealing to those who are suffering at the bottom of society's trash heap. My personal conclusion is that what's needed, theologically speaking, is a great deal more solidarity between the poor and the rich. That is, people who have much need to learn to care about those who have much less, and as Gandhi said so beautifully, "Before you do anything, stop and recall the face of the poorest most helpless destitute person you have seen and ask yourself, Is what I am about to do going to help him?"

If your answer is no, you might want to think again.

Empathy would create an awful lot of liberation, in my opinion. What's needed in this world is solidarity and compassion on the part of individuals, not complicated theologies or the denunciation of 'systems of oppression'. I do admire the work of the liberation theologians in that they told people to read the Bible themselves and apply it to their specific situations rather than try and understand what St. Paul called 'the boundless riches of Christ' (Ephesians 3:8) solely through the clogging, cloying lens of tradition. The Bible speaks to you, personally. Read it and see what it says. You might be surprised. But I am not a fan of systematic theologies, even when they are focused on the poorest and weakest among us. I think liberation theology is one of those things that could be taken away from the very well intended and used by those with far less kind agendas for their own purposes. But that's true of any theology, right?

Maybe we don't need theology at all. Perhaps the Bible is not meant to be read 'systematically' since--as I said above--you can make it into any system that you'd like. Perhaps it just says what it says, to each of us individually, and if it is indeed a book that somehow reflects the will of God, He will speak to each and everyone of us in His own way and in His own time. Just a thought.

(I am very tired as I am writing this, so if my thoughts are drifting a bit, I apologize) ...more
4

Jun 17, 2014

Part a series of short synopses of various theological perspectives, Miguel de la Torre gives a helpful historical overview of the liberation theology from its pre-origins (slave religion, other indigenous faiths) to present day, even discussing liberation theologies from other than Christian perspectives. While he covers the essentials of liberation theology, I would have appreciate a more expansive discussion of this portion of the book. He then discusses liberation theologies in North America Part a series of short synopses of various theological perspectives, Miguel de la Torre gives a helpful historical overview of the liberation theology from its pre-origins (slave religion, other indigenous faiths) to present day, even discussing liberation theologies from other than Christian perspectives. While he covers the essentials of liberation theology, I would have appreciate a more expansive discussion of this portion of the book. He then discusses liberation theologies in North America and around the world, highlighting similarities and differences.

In the end he announces in a sense the end of liberation theology and of the hope of overcoming neoliberal capitalism's influence on the global reality. This reflects his review that the best liberation theology can offer is "solidarity with the hopeless." While I appreciate his gritty honesty, I am not sure that is the best that LT has to offer. I think he under emphasizes LT's call to what Freire called "utopia" - a preferred future - which drives the revolutionary to act in the first place. Furthermore, he seems to discount evangelical attempts to engage liberation theology thru such things as a focus on empire and the response of biblical characters to empire.

This book is a great introduction to what LT is and is not, and covers the wide spectrum of thought despite these limitations ...more

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