Friday, October 23, 2009

Paco at the Chatelet

Paco Ibañez doesn't care much for the English-speaking world generally and Americans in particular. He said so several times during his concert last night at the Châtelet. He went off on a long riff aboout trying to eradicate "OK" and other Americanismos from the Spanish language. I agree with Paco's revulsion at "Cocacolonization" as we call it, a world where Spanish children know more about Batman than El Cid, but I also think he could be more open to our many wonderful political singer/songwriters. The United States is more than McDonalds and Walt Disney, Paco!

This being said, this gringa is still loca enamorada de Paco and the concert reinforced this love. Paco performed a mix of old and new materials, brought in younger performers to share the stage with him including his daughter Alicia.

He sang a lot of his Pablo Neruda poem/songs which I love and told of meeting the great poet himself who suggested that Paco ought to sing his works. He also sang a lot of Garcia Lorca and José Agustín Goytisolo. Not so much Rafael Alberti though of course there was the obligatory "A Galopar" as an encore.

He paid homage to the late Mercedes Sosa with the song "Vasija de Barro" and toured Spain musically, including a song in the Basque language and a bit of flamenco with a flamenco dancer.

From France, where Paco lived and worked for many years in his youth during the Franco regime, there were several numbers by Georges Brassens and he offered his French audience a new setting for Ronsard's "Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir à la chandelle" which I remember learning by heart in grade school here in Paris.

Probably the only song I would have wanted to hear that wasn't in this program was "Andaluces de Jaen" but Paco has a huge and growing repertoire and you can't sing everybody's favorite song every night. Total que me quedé más que satisfecha con el concierto. Gracías, Paco.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What I Want For You

by Roger Ludwig

Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? — John 4:11

What I want for you,
what I want for the world,
is this well, Jacob's well,
well of wonder, well of awakening,
and this water, living water,
water of life
flowing freely
in a dry place,
fresh from the source—
yet available,

What I want for you,
what I want for everyone,
is thirst, this thirst
for this water
as for nothing else—
this knowing
that nothing else
will do.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Iglesia Descalza is going on vacation

To our faithful readers: This blog is going to take a 10-day break because Rebel Girl is going on vacation. I might post a few items from the road, but mostly I'm gonna rest! See you in November...

Review of a new book on liberation theology by Juan José Tamayo

By Edgardo Rodríguez Gómez * (translation by Rebel Girl)
Los Andes
18 oct 2009

My esteemed teacher and friend Juan José Tamayo has just published Teología de la Liberación: En el nuevo escenario político y religioso ("Liberation Theology in the New Political and Religious Scene") in the Colección Diáspora of Valencian publisher Tirant Lo Blanch. The book has a preface by Leonardo Boff and prologue written by the Tamayo titled "From Machu Picchu to the Cerro de San Cristobal."

As a research associate with the Ignacio Ellacuría Chair at the Carlos III University of Madrid, which is directed by the author of the book, I had followed much of the writing process and the final edition of this work which concluded with his trip to Peru, just over a year ago, in which we met both during his stay in Cusco and in Lima.

Juan José Tamayo is one of the most renowned Spanish lay theologians at home and abroad. A columnist for El País and El Periódico de Cataluña, he has over fifty publications to his credit as author and editor. His Christian heterodoxy has meant pressure and sanctions from the reactionary Spanish church hierarchy, while his openness to interfaith dialogue and a liberating concept of faith have given him great satisfaction. Only a month ago he was awarded the President of Tunisia's World Prize for Islamic studies for his penultimate book: Islam. Cultura, religión y política ("Islam: Culture, religion and politics").

About his latest book, the subject of this writing, Leonardo Boff in the preface tells us: "Juan José Tamayo's book [...] is something monumental. Perhaps there has never been an investigation as extensive, covering the entire spectrum of liberation theology as a new paradigm, contents and presentation of the contributions of some of its leading figures, men and women theologians."

Indeed, Juanjo Tamayo has made a careful study of the works and proposals of twenty Latin American liberation theologians among whom are Gustavo Gutierrez, the Boff brothers, Jon Sobrino and Elsa Tamez. Personally, it gave me great satisfaction to find the study of the work of a clear exponent of Peruvian Southern Andean theology, Diego Irarrázaval.

Diego Irarrázaval spent more than twenty years in Puno directing the Instituto de Estudios Aymaras ("Institute of Aymara Studies" or IDEA) and teaching at the Seminary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, advising the Instituto de Pastoral Andina ("Andean Pastoral Institute") and publishing the Boletín del IDEA and works such as his famous La fiesta, símbolo de libertad ("The Celebration: Symbol of Freedom"). The change in church conditions in the Prelature of Juli with a new bishop theologically linked to the hierarchy of the Spanish Opus Dei determined his departure and distancing from Chucuito, where he would have liked to have stayed.

However, it failed to treat the great contribution of another Southern Andean theologian whom Tamayo personally knew and who is quoted in various parts of the book: Domingo Llanque. Although the author intended to address the life and work of this great Aymara, he was unable to access key materials to be used for that study, all due to a bad local habit of enclosing the intellectual production and issues that are a borderless cultural contribution within the small realm of the altiplano; thus the effort is pending for an upcoming publication in which it may be possible for the Ellacuría Chair to collect texts of theologians in the southern Andes such as Luis Zambrano, María José Caram, Simón Pedro Arnold and Narciso Valencia.

For Tamayo, Machu Picchu and the Cerro San Cristobal are two landmarks, symbols of the rise "several centuries apart, but in ideological and cultural continuity, of two counterhegemonic theologies fighting against the Empire, or rather, against the empires -- indigenous theology and liberation theology."

Indigenous theology, says Tamayo, "operates as a theology of resistance against neoliberal globalization that: a) seeks to take its land with the avowed objective of modernizing and making higher profits from it, but with the unstated intention of destroying the fabric of life, of all life, human and natural, as a sacrifice to the Market-God, b) seeks to eliminate cultural diversity, religious pluralism, and multiethnic wealth, c) and strives to impose a single ideology, the Western one, as if it were universal."

Therefore: "Indigenous theology is being reborn today as a symbolic mythical narrative, as a learned theology, as a narrative discourse in the line of liberation and the alter-globalization movements. But not as an imitation of Christian liberation theologies, also colonizing in their own way, but with its own identity, through inter-identity dialogue with other cultural traditions, with its own methodology, without being subject to the dominant methodology, although always open to communication with the methodology of other liberation theologies, with its own contents according to its best traditions, in dialogue with the new cultural climates, but without succumbing to mimicry or uncritically assimilating with them."

Also, liberation theology after forty years "has managed to come down the Cerro San Cristobal and take its place in the world of cultural marginalization and social exclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean. It has sided with the victims of successive colonizations and has regained the originally subversive nature of Christianity. It has allowed the proclamation of Jesus of Nazareth against the political, economic and religious powers of His time and the prophetic denunciation of the Hispanic Empire by Bartolomé de las Casas to be heard again. It made the cause of the liberators of the early 19th century for the independence of Latin American peoples its own. Today it has become a universal movement that is present in the World Social Forum and the Forum for Alternatives under the banner "Another World is Possible", and it has created its own alter-globalization space, the World Forum on Theology and Liberation which challenges the credulous beliefs, revolutionizes the consciousness of believers and nonbelievers, and seeks to transform their practices from the conviction that "another theology is possible" and necessary!"

When he gave me this text to read for the first time on the return trip, I could not help but smile and make a comment about the style of speech that he had used, quite unusual in his everyday academic practice. In any case, rather than a criticism, I was trying to understand the mixed feelings he would have within himself after visiting a country like Peru where he came to give a lecture for all the higher ups in the Salon Raul Porras Barnechea of the Peruvian Congress and, at the same time suffered from the lack of attention to health of which, in solidarity with all Peruvians, he also was the victim. In short, a totally bad experience with a public service which has also attracted an outcry for change.

(*) Instituto Sur Andino de Derechos Humanos, co-author with Juan José Tamayo of Aportación de la teología de la liberación a los derechos humanos (Tirant Lo Blanch, 2009)

Immigrant allowed to stay because of pet cat

Only in England...

By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent
The Telegraph
Published: 9:45PM BST 17 Oct 2009

The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal ruled that sending the Bolivian man back to his homeland would breach his human rights because he was entitled to a "private and family life", and joint ownership of a pet was evidence that he was fully settled in this country.

Lawyers for the Home Secretary were aghast at the decision by James Devittie, an immigration judge, to allow the immigrant to stay in Britain. They lodged an appeal, but their case was again rejected.

Delivering her decision on the case, which is thought to have cost the taxpayer several thousand pounds, Judith Gleeson, a senior immigration judge, joked in the official written ruling that the cat "need no longer fear having to adapt to Bolivian mice".

Barry O'Leary, solicitor for the Bolivian, said that the court was told that man and his girlfriend had purchased the animal together, and it was therefore "one detail among many" that they were in a committed relationship.

"As part of the application and as part of the appeal, the couple gave detailed statements of the life they had built together in the UK to show the genuine nature and duration of their relationship," he said.

"One detail provided, among many, was that they had owned a cat together for some time.

"The appeal was successful and when giving the reasons for the success the judge did comment on the couple's cat. It was taken into account as part of the couple's life together.

"The Home Office asked for the decision to be reconsidered. They argued it should be reconsidered because the decision was wrong in law, and one error they cited was that too much consideration was given to the couple's cat."

Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, said: "Sometimes you don't know whether to laugh or cry. If pet ownership is going to be used as a reason for deciding immigration cases then the law really is an ass.

"This is clearly not a sensible use of human rights legislation which is designed to protect people's basic needs."

The case comes a week after The Sunday Telegraph disclosed how the same court had given permission for more than 50 foreign criminals, including killers and sex offenders, to avoid deportation because of human rights concerns.

A court's consideration of the right to family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights often focuses on whether an immigrant should stay in Britain because they have children who were born in this country. However, this is believed to be the first time the courts have been asked to attach weight to joint custody of a pet.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: "We were disappointed by the court's decision in this case.

"The UK Border Agency vigorously opposes any appeal against detention, deportation or removal but if the courts insist an individual cannot be removed we have to accept their judgement."

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationwatchUK, which campaigns against mass immigration, said: "Drawing pets into the consideration of issues of such importance is so utterly absurd that you could not make it up.

"I despair. This is symptomatic of the attitude held by many of the judiciary, which is complete disregard for the impact of such decisions on the future of our community."

Mr O'Leary added that his client originally brought the case because he should have benefited from a Home Office policy on unmarried partners which gives credit to couples who have been together more than two years. The Bolivian had been with his partner for four years, he said.

"It was made clear by the initial judge and then by Senior Immigration Judge Gleeson that the appellant should benefit from that policy and be granted the right to remain," he said.

"Furthermore, it was accepted by the Home Office representative at the hearing before Judge Gleeson that the policy should apply and any other errors in the initial decision by the judge, including too much detail on the cat, were immaterial."

He added: "This case was won because the Home Office had a policy which they did not initially apply but later, through their representative, they accepted should have been applied."

A spokesman from the Judicial Communications Office said: "This was a case in which the Home Office conceded that they had mistakenly failed to apply their own policy for dealing with unmarried partners of people settled in the UK."

Photo: Judge Gleeson

Interview with Ernesto Cardenal

Nicaraguan priest and poet Ernesto Cardenal has enjoyed new popularity since receiving the Premio Iberoamericano de Poesía Pablo Neruda 2009 earlier this year from the Chilean government. His fall schedule has included a huge open poetry reading in Mexico City's Zócalo (see video below) in connection with a book fair and a trip to the Canary Islands, during which he gave the following interview.

by Alberto García Saleh (translation by Rebel Girl)
La Provincia/ Diario de Las Palmas

- What would you say is the difference between the Sandinistas in earlier times and today?

- One has nothing to do with the other. The revolution in Nicaragua was one the most beautiful revolutions that have ever occurred. It was in solidarity with the whole world, it had great affection from all people and our people had great enthusiasm for it. It was a seven-year war against the United States and it won, making the U.S. occupation troops leave Nicaragua. Then some of the main leaders began to steal before handing over power and they lost the revolution. Now those same people that betrayed the revolution and Sandinismo are in the government.

- Does the responsibility of being the most important Latin American poet of the moment weigh on you?

- It's very arbitrary. I don't think I'm so important, and even if I were, being important is not important.

- But you've traveled all over the world and has visited the most unusual countries. Which countries have surprised you most?

- I have a book of poems entitled Pasajeros de tránsito ("Passengers in transit") that is about travels around the world. My poems are born of the experience of the country, and not of knowledge about the country.

- But your works have been translated into many languages.

- Yes, but that is no guarantee of excellence. It is true that it has been published in many countries but it has been read less than that and those that are excellent I think even less. An English poet said that the greatness of some great works of literature lies in something outside of literature. I'd say if there is a bit of grandeur in my work it is for extra-literary reasons because the themes of my poetry are the poor and love and humanity.

- You have a religious vocation that you consider late. What produced a religious conversion in you?

- I had always had a vocation to surrender to God, and that meant the renunciation of human support and many other sacrifices, and so I didn't dare to renounce [those things]. At one point in my life I decided to try, like the one who throws himself in jail, surrendering myself to God. Then I was filled with happiness and union with God. He entered me and from then on I have had a loving mystical union with God.

- But you do not share much with the representatives of God on Earth.

- I do not believe in the Vatican, but in Jesus, and the church that He tried to create, which is very different from the one now.

- There have been many rivers of ink spilled about the meeting you had with John Paul II and what he said.

- What John Paul II said to me was: "You should regularize your situation." I did not wanted to respond, and he repeated the phrase with the sharp tone he had. Simply he was scolding me because I was a priest in a post in a government in a revolution, and he was asking me to leave that post. But the Bishop of Nicaragua had allowed us priests who had government posts to continue in them for a while as long as it was necessary and the Vatican had broadcast it. He humiliated me publicly because he was at the airport with the junta and as I was Minister of Culture, the government decided that I should be present even though the Pope did not want my presence.

- And what do you think the Pope really wanted?

- He wanted a revolution that would persecute the Church, like communism had been in Poland, which was a hugely Catholic country with an unpopular anti-religious government. Nicaragua was very Catholic, but supporting a Marxist revolution, although a Christian one. And the Pope believed that by speaking out against the revolution in the square before 700,000 people at the papal Mass, the people would applaud him. And then people started shouting against him and disrespecting him to the point that the Pope had to yell "Silence!" several times.

- Did you answer the Pope when he scolded you?

- I could not. All the cameras were there and I was not going to start debating with the Pope.

- You are an exponent of liberation theology.

- I consider myself a disciple. Liberation theology has inspired me, among others, the Marxist poets.

- What has your latest accolade, the Pablo Neruda Award, brought?

- It was special because of being an idol of youth. In my acceptance speech I said that until that moment, I had taken pride in being the least decorated poet of the Castilian tongue.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Eldercare Choices: Stop the Guilt Trips

Another Sunday when I wonder why I listen to Boletín Católico. Today the topic is putting seniors in nursing homes. Fr. Hoyos expresses the same old anti-nursing home arguments I've heard from other priests. Those of us who cannot care for our aging parents at home are made to feel guilty for choosing to put them in long term care facilities, that somehow we are ungrateful children for not "making the sacrifice", for not caring for our parents in our homes the way they cared for us.

This kind of guilt trip really makes me angry. I suppress the urge to call the radio station and scream: "Who are you to judge us? You are a celibate priest with lots of married brothers and sisters. You will never be the primary caregiver for your elderly father. Try having him live with you for a month in the rectory, having to bathe him, put diapers on him, listen to him tell stories that make no sense, worry about whether or not he will get confused and wander away, and then you will have the authority to judge us. Until then, just shut up!"

"Explain to the bishop why you have to miss an important meeting because the home health aide didn't show up to be with dad. And all those preaching engagements overseas you accept each year? Those are history when you become a caregiver. And because of your vow of poverty, you are probably not even expected to contribute to your father's caregiver's salary."

But I don't call. I turn off the radio after 20 minutes of this stuff to take a deep breath, get myself together to go to church and then to visit my mother in her assisted living facility.

For many years I cared for her in her own apartment. Every Saturday I shopped for her, cooked and brought over vegetarian dishes she liked in individual portions that she could reheat when she was no longer able to cook, bathed her, washed her clothes and cleaned. If I was sick or the weather was bad, I still had to come over because without me she had nothing to eat. For all those years I never took a full week of vacation.

Eventually I had to move her into assisted living -- after she no longer remembered to heat and eat the food I brought over, after I found her sitting naked in the bathtub when the building manager had to let me in because she did not come to the door of her unit because she had tried to bathe herself and did not have the strength to get out of the tub.

Today, my mother's care aides make sure she eats regularly and bathes. They also help her in and out of her wheelchair and change her diapers. I don't have to worry about what will happen to her if I'm sick or out of town.

She is declining mentally and sometimes I think that if she were with me, she might do better. Sometimes I think about leaving my job, renting an apartment for the two of us and taking care of her full-time. Of course, I would have to end most of my church and political activities...and vacations?....

But why do I feel a need to explain this? You and all the other celibate male (surveys have shown that 59-75% of non-professional family caregivers in the US are women) priests who heap guilt on those of us who have had to put our parents in institutions will never get it. The next time you talk about this subject it should only be to thank God for the people who are caring for your father so you don't have to.