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IGNORED VIRGIN OR UNAWARE WOMEN A MEXICAN-AMERICAN PROTESTANT REFLECTION ON THE VIRGIN OF GUADALUPE Since all human beings have a story, a context, a perspective, theology cannot be articulated in a vacuum. The last decades have witnessed an increased tendency to acknowledge the theologian ’s perspective in the theological task. As a consequence, the classical notion of an objective , general, universal, unchanging theology has been challenged as a theology that can be oppressive, irrelevant, and false. According to Stephen B. Bevans, the contextualization of theology is a theological imperative if theology is going to be a pertinent theology.1 Theology needs to be grounded in a specific context where a particular group of people, a community, can recognize it, relate to it, welcome it, and be challenged by it. Among the contextual theologies that have flourished in the last decades are several feminist and women’s theologies that affirm the need to take the experiences of women as a theological foundation.2 As I ponder on the foundations of a Latina women’s Protestant theology, I affirm the need to incorporate as a theological source the Latina Protestant women’s experiences which are grounded in a specific context, the Latino culture. Traditionally, Latino Protestantism has had a tense relationship with the Latino culture. It has dismissed many elements of the culture due to their connections with C H A P T E R 1 0 nora o. lozano-díaz 10-T1918 11/19/2001 11:08 AM Page 204 Catholicism. I believe there is a need to reevaluate the roots and motivations behind this reaction toward culture. Furthermore, there is a need to reevaluate the whole Protestant relationship to culture in order to challenge what is oppressive in it and to recuperate what is powerful and life-giving. As I explore the topic of the Lady of Guadalupe , I want to present some preliminary thoughts toward this goal. I want to identify myself as a Protestant woman who looks at life and theology from a bridge.3 By looking from this bridge, as Leticia Guardiola-Sáenz has described it, I want to recognize and honor the experiences that identify me as a Mexican as well as a MexicanAmerican woman.4 In some areas of the border, the Mexican and U.S. lands are geographically united by a bridge. This bridge helps me to imagine a cultural bridge where I can stand in order to incorporate my experiences in both of these cultures. THE IGNORED VIRGIN I grew up in a Mexican Protestant home. My parents have been active members in the Baptist church for as long as I can remember. As I was growing up in this Baptist home, the Lady of Guadalupe was not present in my immediate environment. Little by little, however, given her extensive presence in Mexico, I became aware of the existence of the Lady of Guadalupe. Early in my elementary school years I remember seeing the golden medals with the image of the Lady of Guadalupe that many of my classmates wore as a sign of devotion and protection. I remember hearing on national television slogans such as “Todos los mexicanos somos Guadalupanos” (Every Mexican is a Guadalupano). During my teen years, I learned about the apparition of the Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego thanks to a television show with one of my favorite actresses. According to the Catholic story, the Lady of Guadalupe appeared in 1531 to an indigenous man called Juan Diego. She referred to herself as “Tlecuauhtlacupeuh,” which the Spaniards heard as “Guadalupe .” She addressed Juan Diego as her son and told him that she was his mother. She asked Juan Diego to build a temple for her and promised to comfort all who suffer.5 My Protestant family, however, told me that this story was only a superstition, that the apparition never happened. Just as in my home, the Lady of Guadalupe was pretty much ignored in my Protestant church. In fact, the Lady of Guadalupe is not even acknowledged at all in the Protestant tradition. If Protestant IGNORED VIRGIN OR UNAWARE WOMEN 205 10-T1918 11/19/2001 11:08 AM Page 205 people refer to the Virgin, they talk about the Virgin Mary, the biblical Mary who was the mother of Jesus. However, this happens seldom , if ever. The reason for overlooking the Virgin Mary may be found in the way in which the Hispanic American Protestantism was developed. The Hispanic...


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