Remembering Esperanza: A Cultural-Political Theology for North American Praxis

“Wonderfully provocative in both content and method, Remembering Esperanza is a ‘must-read” for all those who face the contradictory challenges of  making faith claims in a postmodern pluralistic context. . .  Bonnie Miller-McLemore,Vanderbilt Divinity School

“This is a most  welcome book. It is dense and complex, and deserves to be read slowly  and reflectively as its contents work upon the reader . . .  Charles M. Wood, Perkins School of Theology

 A  profound and serious attempt at constructing a liberation theology in  the U.S. As such, it is an important book for all of us in South  America: a sign of hope in the North-South theological dialogue.. .The  final chapter, “Christus Mater,” represents a true revolution in Christology.  Pablo Richard, Departmento Ecuménico de Investigaciónes, Costa Rica 

Mark Taylor has done what no other man has yet attempted (to my knowledge): a theology that begins with his own context as a white, straight,  relatively affluent male, to address issues of sexism, classism,  heterosexism and racism . . .”  Sallie McFague, Vanderbilt Divinity School

We are all in debt to Mark Taylor’s original study of the importance of social location for theological method. Remembering Esperanza is a work that demands and will receive critical response across the entire theological spectrum.  David Tracy, The University of Chicago

The argument at the heart of this book is that present North American social and institutional practices feature a thoroughgoing, albeit often well disguised, “abstraction” from material conditions, an abstraction that wreaks abuse and oppression on humanity and nature; an abstraction that is a turning away from, often an abhorrence and fear of, concrete existence.

The fault is not abstract thinking; rather it is thinking and practice turned away from the sources of human and natural life: matter, bodies, mothers, darkness.  This book, originally published in 1990 by Orbis Books, and reprinted with a new Introdution by Fortress Press in 2005, was Taylor’s first comprehensive theoretical and theological statement.

The book postpones any talk of unification or reconciliation until after a careful analysis of four key antagonisms at work in U.S. culture and politics: first, sexism, then hetero-sexism or hetero-realism, white racism, and also economic exploitation. Taylor’s theories show how these work together, producing complex, ever-changing and culturally variable assemblages of political oppression.

Taylor treats a variety of the arts to open up an “empowering mythos” centered on a revolutionary refiguring of Christ as maternal freedom-making force (Christus Mater). This freedom-making force begins to unify only when spawning emancipatory myth for women and men amid patriarchies, liberating human sensuality amid sexual and gender repression, liberating an opaqueness of being (“blackness”/”darkness”) amid a white racism that weighs heavily (and differently) against every community of color, and liberating, too, a comprehensive material collective life against every class-based strategy of economic exploitation.

The result of Taylor’s book is a view of Christ (“Christology”) and of Christian practices wherein “grace” is experienced as being given collectively to social movements, to cultural-political movements. Thereby, we build new structured freedom in a common struggle and hope amid every force that would deny liberating spirit its life and world-making power.