Where is the hope? What does it look like? Is the Christian church providing a hope that materializes in the grounding of people’s thriving? These questions posed the catalysts of this work where the author sets up a journey that parses the definition of hope within Christian theology as an ontological category of the human experience. Through ethnographic research and ecclesial study of diverse congregations in Puerto Rico the work moves from an articulation of context, hope, practice, and future to reveal its aim of liberation through a hope that can be sustainable in time and space. She analyzes the operations of political systems that suppress hope in the island. Weaving the theme of a theology of hope, with the fields of ecclesiology, memory studies, postcolonial and decolonial theory, liberation theology, and the study of social movements she builds a model that puts hope at the center of socio-economic practices and moves toward a recipe for a hope that is sustainable in practice.
Yara González-Justiniano is assistant professor of religion, psychology, and culture at Vanderbilt University.
List of Figures
Chapter One: About Context: “No Hay Mal que Dure Cien Años,
Ni Cuerpo que lo Resista”
Chapter Two: About Hope: “Al Mal Tiempo, Buena Cara”
Chapter Three: About Practice: “A Buen Entendedor, Pocas
Chapter Four: About the Future: “Vivir del Cuento”
Chapter Five: About Telos: “Más Largo que la Esperanza del Pobre”
About the Author
González-Justiniano gives us a robust lived hope that faces into the structures and forces that would have us despair into spirals of hopelessness. Drawing on the rich resources found in of the struggles of the people of Puerto Rico, she envisions a new future that rests in a sustainable, eschatological hope. This is a hope-full and hope-filled guide to practices that will lead us into a vibrant future and more humane now.
This book is a fantastic hope story written by the amazing practical theologian Yara González-Justiniano to and from her beloved Puerto Rican people. From that place, Dr. González-Justiniano powerfully shows how hope is a decolonial tool people carry to survive forces of empire and domination. From that place, Dr. González-Justiniano issues a call to hope that breaks systems of death and creates flows of life. In this book, we learn that hope is not a problem as some would say but rather, the way we understand hope theologically. Beyond the easiness of empty, short, abstract and individual grasps of hope that only supports systems of betrayal and destruction, Dr. González-Justiniano calls ourselves to sense, learn, ponder and resonate with acts of hope that comes from below, from those whose understanding of hope is not a concept but a daily doing. It is from daily religious practices of hope that Dr. González-Justiniano fuels our hearts, bodies and theologies with changes, resistances and defiance as practiced by the Puerto Rican people. If we heed this call, hope will liberate us “from the evils that oppress and ravish our body(ies).” I couldn’t be happier to see this incredible book coming out.
What is hope? Where is hope? What does hope look like? These are undoubtedly among the most challenging questions for theology in our day. Grounded in the long history of Puerto Rican struggle for political, cultural and religious self-assertion, Yara González-Justiniano delivers an engaging theological reflection on hope by appealing to the prophetic power of the Christian imagination. This work is a passionate invitation to name and affirm, and cultivate when necessary, practices of responsible hope that lead to integral human flourishing in faith communities -- and beyond. An excellent contribution to the field of practical theology.
This is an excellent contribution to several important theological themes: 1) it delivers a renewing reading and interpretation of the diverse understandings of liberation theology; 2) it brings to the literary and academic front the theme of hope, as both the source and goal of integral Christian faith; 3) as a person that recognizes Puerto Rico as her homeland, a Caribbean island that has been described by a foremost juridical scholar as “the oldest colony of the world”, Yara González-Justiniano deals with the complex coloniality of her motherland. I strongly recommend to pay careful attention to this admirable book.
This work is critical for the Puerto Rican Christian church, indeed any church community, seeking to address suffering and hopelessness. There are very few studies centering the voices and experiences of Puerto Rican people to identify life-giving and life-sustaining ecclesial practices. Dr. Gonzalez-Justiniano does this so creatively and accessibly, weaving multiple interdisciplinary threads to make a distinct contribution to constructive and practical theology. Her book draws prophetic attention to the hope that is present in marginalized communities, so that hope can be amplified by those in positions of pastoral ministry. This is a book about hope and life, which can only flourish through sustained practices of decolonial action and activism.
Gonzalez-Justiniano prepares a recipe for hope in the aftermath of colonial violence and oppression. Each chapter provides another ingredient, a gift from her island, that cooks a meal that heals colonial wounds through memory and imagination. Through exploring the lived experiences of those most marginalized, Gonzalez-Justiniano models the necessity and potential of hope for the liberation and freedom of people. This work represents a necessary revival of liberation literature for the 21st century.
Yara González-Justiniano’s beautiful book unfolds in the face of the hopelessness born of colonialism and its ever-evolving aftermath. She helps us contextualize and visualize sustainable practices of decolonizing hope by examining the hope against hope she discerns in concrete communities of Christian faith. Alongside these practitioners, attending to the wisdom of the ancestors, and attuned to a chorus of voices from the theological tradition, we rediscover the power of hope as a means of liberation. I will be pondering these pages and returning to them for a very long time.