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The Americas 60.4 (2004) 632

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The Quest for the Cuban Christ: A Historical Search. By Miguel A. De La Torre. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002. Pp. xvi, 202. Illustrations. Notes. Bibliography. Index. $55.00 cloth.

There is currently an increasing interest in the role of Christianity in Cuba. The historic 1998 visit of John Paul II to the island has stimulated that interest. However, partially due to the isolation that Cuba has experienced, there are a number of caricatures about the history and the current reality of Cuban Christianity. Miguel A. De La Torre's book, The Quest for the Cuban Christ, does much to dispel myths and misunderstandings. Further, it opens up new vistas for a deeper and more positive understanding of Cuban Christianity. One could easily form the impression that the Cuban Catholic Church was not in touch with the major developments of the Second Vatican Council and, therefore, that it does not have a biblical understanding of either the preferential option for the poor or liberation theology. By contrast, José Martí, according to De La Torre, was in a certain sense a forerunner of the liberating themes of the 1968 General Conference of the Latin American Bishops at Medellín, Colombia. Martí both anticipated and fully supported the preferential option for the poor, and he challenged the dissonance between the Cubans on the island and those in the diaspora. Thus, he promoted a Cuban national identity. De La Torre emphasizes that the Cuban quest for Christ requires a serious consideration of historical symbols in order to understand how God has communicated to the Cuban people. These symbols are expressed in art, music, and many other venues. The question of the identity of the Cuban Christ needs to be looked at from the "underside" of Cuba's history. This implies a veritable "ajiaco" (a traditional Cuban stew that blends an eclectic array of ingredients into a vibrant whole). De La Torre's quest is extremely rich, and it is most enlightening. It provides an opening for accurate understanding of contemporary Cuban Christianity.

University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana



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