Last week’s Ecumenical Advocacy Days featured a fine flashback to the heydays of the Religious Left: Liberation Theology, which reinterprets Marxism through a Christian prism. With the fall of the Soviet bloc, liberationists lost much of their popularity. Nevertheless, adherents persist today, though they address a shrunken audience. As the EAD Sunday lunch panel suggests, there is some tension between extreme Marxism with more moderate theo-political measures.
Dr. Nancy Cardoso Pereira of Costa Rica presented on “A Faithful Table.” Pereira—whose specialties include “social relations of gender, agriculture, peasants, Latin American feminist hermeneutics”—holds a plethora of degrees, predominately from Methodist institutions. Her affinity for Native Central American folkways was evident; she opened by stating, “We come from corn; we are seed.” “The earth is God’s table. Land is God’s table. God is not separate from it,” she furthered. “The world, my needs, my body, my holes,” the seminary dean said while pointing to her ears, nose, eyes, and mouth, “It’s so sensual! It’s so erotic!” Some of the audience members (this reporter included) squirmed somewhat uncomfortably in their seats.
Matters soon turned to work, labor, and what is wrong with the world: “[Businessmen] kidnap God’s table and mediate it with money and companies.” Pereira pondered, “Work is a way to be in dialogue with others…We are landless. We lost the opportunity and the connection.” She waxed eloquent on the sacramental nature of bread and land, only to warn, “Every sign can transform itself into a countersign…the diabolic moment of turning away from God and Christ.” “Capitalism…exhausts the resources of the land-bread dialogue…Give us this daily bread or Monsanto,” she bemoaned. Pereira condemned “the voracious appetite of the profit motive” which is “disguised by industry ad campaigns and PR.” The seminarian announced, “It is not possible to find what we’re looking for in the capitalist system…It is not a time to humanize capitalists…to give capitalism a soul.” “Capitalism is not falling from itself,” she observed, “We have to face this straight on. We have to do more.”