During the last century much atheistic and agnostic thought has achieved a positive “humanism” striving for equality and peace amongst individuals. However, western religion is still struggling to find unified support for such values. This symposium is concerned with the basic religious theory behind Liberation Theology, a generally leftist theology, born of the social tumult of the 1960s and 1970s in Latin America and its success in making central to the mission of Christianity the reformation of inequities precipitating from colonialism, neo-colonialism, and “first-world” economic domination. Referring to a larger work that studied how an humanitarian pretense has always been at the core of significant religious feeling, this symposium will pay special attention to how Liberation Theology has influenced thought and action in different sects of Christianity in disparate parts of the world. Central to the discussion will be the philosophy of Gustavo Gutierrez, often called the “father” of Liberation Theology, and his thesis that theology concerned with social justice preserves religion from “pernicious and belittling narcissism” (Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation, p 12). The symposium will conclude with a personal assessment of how the values of Liberation Theology could be implemented in the author’s life – the life of a man in the most dominant “first-world” country (the U.S.) and how it might just be the view of G-d that “saves” religion from complete irrelevancy for modern humankind.
Chad Newbrough Steacy, ’03 Chico, CA
Majors: History, Religion
Sponsor: Joseph Molleur