Hispanic Theological Initiative.

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    Book Prize Awardees

    2012 Book Prize

    Mestizaje Cover

     The concept of mestizaje-a reference to the distinctive biological and cultural intermixture that occurred in the "New World"-has become a foundational category in U.S. Latina/o theology. Mestizaje: (Re)mapping Race, Culture, and Faith in Latina/o Catholicism traces the-subversive and innovative ways in which Catholic theologians have curned this concept into a powerful framework for articulating the experiences of faith of Latina/o communities. At the same time the author, Dr. Nestor Medina, examines some of the limitations and contradictions inherents in these concepts and explores new language for describing the vibrant and complex ethno-cultural and religious identity of Latina/o communities today.

    A 2006-2007 HTI Dissertation Fellow, Dr. Medina received his doctorate from Emmanuel College, Toronto School of Theology, University of Toronto, and is Assistant Professor of Theology and Culture at Regent University in West Virginia.  


    On Saturday, June 23, 2012, Medina gave a lecture at Princeton Theological Seminary on his prize-winning book, which was published by Orbis Books.

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    2011 Book Prize
    2011 Book Prize Cover
    In Divino Compañero: Toward a Hispanic Pentecostal Christology, Dr. Sammy Alfaro explores the necessary foundations for constructing a Hispanic Pentecostal Christology. The book is an original exploration of Jesus as the Divine Companion in a Latina/o Pentecostal context, with insights that go beyond the boundaries of Pentecostalism. Although traditionally Pentecostal Christologies have been anchored in a two-nature Chalcedonian model, Alfaro proposes that Spirit-Christology is a more suitable paradigm for a Hispanic Pentecostal Christology. After reviewing the Christological reflection of early Pentecostals and the contemporary turn to Spirit-Christology, Alfaro lays out the main components needed to construct a Christological model born out of the Hispanic Pentecostal reality, rooted in the broader Pentecostal Christological imagination, and informed by the Pentecostal way of doing theology. Following this method, Alfaro concludes that the central metaphor of Hispanic Pentecostal Christology is El Divino Compañero, for in their pilgrimage through this world it is Jesus, the Divine Companion, who through the Spirit guides and nurtures his followers on their way back home.

    A 2003–2006 HTI Doctoral Fellow, and a 2007–2008 Dissertation Fellow, Alfaro is assistant professor of Christian studies at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. Together with his wife, Miriam, he planted Iglesia Nuevo Día—a Hispanic bilingual church in Phoenix. This prize-winning book was published by Pickwick Publications.

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    2010 Book Prize
     Cover2010  Providing a scholarly, almost archival in its depth of research, yet clearly written work, Dr. Michael Lee’s winning entry, Bearing the Weight of Salvation: The Soteriology of Ignacio Ellacuría presents a wonderful introduction in English to the Jesuit priest’s philosophical and theological itinerary. The author, well aware of the extensive writings by others on the same subject matter, is careful in attempting to present how liberation theologies in general, and Ellacuría’s, can converse with the scholarship of this millennium. With its clear and coherent focus, the book is capable of becoming the standard study for a generation invested in the works of liberation theology.

    Dr. Lee, who is a 2003-2004 Dissertation Year fellow, is Assistant Professor of Theology at Fordham University. He gave a lecture on his prize-winning book, published by The Crossroad Publishing Company, on Saturday, July 17, 2010 at Princeton Theological Seminary. Responding to Dr. Lee was Dr. Gustavo Gutiérrez, O.P. John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, widely regarded as the founder of liberation theology.


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    2009 Book Prize
    Cover bookSánchez   Dr. David Sánchez provides a moving history of competing sacred images in a concise, but highly researched interdisciplinary account. Our Book Prize winner for this year is his From Patmos to the Barrio: Subverting Imperial Myths, which smoothly connects three time periods and three sets of competing sacred images for imperialism and counter-imperialism, colonialism and counter-colonialism, as well as territorial domination and its counter-voice. The Mexican image of the Virgin of Guadalupe becomes a resource for resisting the dominant figure of the Virgin of Guadalupe as instilled by the Spanish conquistadors. The same image is then employed to counter the conquering Divine Destiny myth of American expansionism, in a similar way to how she is to be found in rallies for immigrant rights in our time. Through excellent exegetical insight, Sánchez ties this competition of sacred symbols to the New Testament. The woman in Revelation 12 is interpreted as a sacred symbol of resistance against the very myths that served to legitimize Roman rule and imperialism. Dr. Sánchez provides a timely source for dialogue in today¹s immigration debates, adding layers of meaning and theological background to this often sensitive and explosive issue in contemporary US dialogue. 

    A 2005-2006 Dissertation Year fellow, Dr. Sánchez is Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University. Fortress Press is the publisher of this prize-winning book.

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    2008 Book Prize

    Drawing upon years of painstaking research, Rev. Dr. Raúl Gómez-Ruiz was declared the winner of this year’s Book Prize with his sweeping and multidisciplinary Mozarabs, Hispanics, and the Cross. The work presents original ways of viewing Hispanic Christianity, both historically and geographically, by exploring this heretofore ignored source in order to show the theological and cultural underpinnings of Hispanic religious practices impacting US Church life. He focuses on the Mozarabs, a Spanish ethnic group who experienced marginalization and domination by Islam and by Christian alike but because of their regard for their ancient rite, have been able to sustain their identity and community.

    One way that culture and identity develop is by means of cultural events, that is, by means of rituals, such as the liturgy. Gómez-Ruiz avers that, “Our rituals say something about who we are in relation to one another but also in who we are in relation to God, the Church, and to society in the United States. Therefore my book is an invitation to us who call ourselves Hispanics, Latinos and Latinas in the United States, to examine the rituals that are constructing our cultural identity and asserting our presence in a culture which by our mere presence and participation in it is being shaped by us.”

    Dr. Gómez-Ruiz, a priest of the Society of the Divine Savior, is professor and vice president for Academic Affairs at the Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wisconsin.

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    2005 Book Prize

    With an impressive wealth of information, Dr. Arlene Sánchez-Walsh admirably succeeds in presenting to the reader a detailed and engaging analysis of the California Latina/o Pentecostal experience in her prize-winning book Latino Pentecostal Identity: Evangelical Faith, Self, and Society. Focusing on four separate historical case studies, Dr. Sánchez-Walsh provides much-needed insight into this seldom explored territory, especially in view of the growing Latina/o Protestant population, three quarters of which is Pentecostal.

    Dr. Sánchez-Walsh is Associate Professor of Church History and Latino Church Studies at the Haggard School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University. Her latest projects include a book on multicultural evangelical youth culture, as well as a textbook for Columbia University Press's "Religion in America" series entitled "Pentecostalism in America."

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    2004 Book Prize
    2004 BP-Cover-Art

    Skillfully transforming her dissertation, Dr. Michelle A. González penned the 2004 winning entry, Sor Juana: Beauty and Justice in the Americas. With its versatile presentation in a manner that addresses several theological disciplines—history, theology, ethics, arts and religion— the work will surely draw the attention of a wide and discriminating audience. Drawing upon historical sensitivity in relating Sor Juana’s thought to its context, González shows conceptual depth in probing the categories of beauty, the good and the true, with an acute eye to contemporary theology regarding aesthetics, feminist theology, and Latin American liberation theology.

    Dr. González, of Cuban heritage, is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at University of Miami, having obtained her PhD in Systematic and Philosophical Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in 2001. Her research and teaching interests include Latina/o, Latin American, and Feminist Theologies, as well as inter-disciplinary work in theological aesthetics.

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    2003 Book Prize

    Innovation is something the HTI program seeks on a constant basis, and last year’s inauguration of the Book Prize proved to be a fruitful incursion into a territory previously unknown to us. The 2003 prize once again gave evidence of the literary and scholarly talents of several worthy Latina/o authors who gave their insight into a myriad of compelling topics.

    Dr. Benjamín Valentín's Mapping Public Theology: Beyond Culture, Identity and Difference presents a bold and far-reaching argument for a basic shift in the agenda of the Hispanic/Latino theology in general. The work proposes that it is time for Hispanic/Latino theology to move beyond the essential work of affirming Hispanic cultural identity and popular religion, to move into a broader coalition or alliance of liberation theologies. Valentín presents this argument in such depth and detail that the book could very well become a landmark in the field, perhaps reframing basic issues of theological methodology for the next generation of Hispanic and Latina/o theologians.

    Dr. Valentín, of Puerto Rican heritage, is Professor of Theology and Culture and Director of the Orlando Costas Latino/a Studies Program at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. His teaching and research interests are in contemporary theology and culture, constructive theology, the relation of religion and theology to American public life, and liberation theology.

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    2002 Book Prize

    On Being Human: U.S. Hispanic and Rahnerian Perspectives by Miguel H. Diaz is a very careful and constructive form of dialogue between the US Hispanic theological community, regarding anthropology in general, and the formidable theological program of Karl Rahner. Furthermore, it is a fresh, clear project that advances the dialogue between Hispanic theological developments and a significant "traditional" voice in Catholic theology. Diaz effectively summarizes seven leading Hispanic theologians regarding anthropology and presents Rahner's theological program with considerable nuance. The result is a very fruitful conversation which itself approaches the constructive theological task regarding grace, person and community, and the social-practical dimensions of the human encounter with grace in community. Diaz further positions himself for an interesting dialogue with such womanists as Shawn Copeland, whose theological work is also in conversation with Rahner. The work is beautifully written, expertly documented, and truly learned.

    Dr. Díaz is a Cuban-American who teaches theology at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. He is co-editor of From the Heart of Our People: Latino/a Explorations in Catholic Systematic Theology.

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