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Featured Book for November 2022

Abuelita Faith: What Women on the Margins Teach Us about Wisdom, Persistence, and Strength

by Kat Armas

What if some of our greatest theologians wouldn’t be considered theologians at all? Kat Armas, a second-generation Cuban-American, grew up on the outskirts of Little Havana, Miami’s famed Cuban neighborhood. Her earliest theological formation came from her grandmother, her abuelita, who fled Cuba during the height of political unrest and raised three children alone after her husband passed away. Combining personal storytelling with biblical reflection, Armas shows us how voices on the margins–those often dismissed, isolated, and oppressed because of their gender, socioeconomic status, or lack of education–have more to tell us about Christian faith than we realize. Abuelita Faith tells the story of unnamed and overlooked theologians in society and in the Bible–mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters–whose survival, strength, resistance, and persistence teach us the true power of faith and love. The author’s exploration of abuelita theology will help people of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds reflect on the abuelitas in their own lives and ministries and on ways they can live out abuelita faith in their day-to-day lives.

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Community Questions

Abuelita Faith Community Questions from Claudia Love Mair

Week 1

  1. In chapter 1 Kat writes about how her journey into honoring the wisdom of women in the margins began with research grief. We have only to watch the news and see the global and on-going assaults on women’s rights to feel a grief akin to this. If you’ve experienced this kind of grief what tools do you use to navigate it?
  2. On page 8-9 Kat describes her ancestors as border crossers who inhabit multiple in-between worlds. She describes “nepantla” as the in-between state of uncertain terrain and constant tension, yet ultimately healing and transformative. Have you experienced this place between one world and another? If so, what did it have to teach you?
  3. Page 36 describes the Church as a communion of saints, on earth and in heaven, and how they are like open treasure houses accessible to all. How can you tap into these treasure house to inspire your theological imagination?

Week 2

  1. In chapter 2 Kat writes about the difficulty defining abuelita theology because it happens in real time as you decolonize. We offer our Lift Every Voice Book Club and Podcast to assist us in decolonizing our faith. In what other ways are you dismantling white supremacy in your spiritual life?
  2. Kat refers to the Holy Spirit as the feminine, wild child of the Trinity, prone to “going native.” You ask, “Who is to say this native wisdom born from the beginning of time...isn't the same wisdom that guided our ancestors in their knowledge, ways of being and knowing...?” “Who is to say?” is an important question, not just for BILPOC Christians. What are some practical ways you can begin to seek out answers to this kind of query?
  3. Kat takes us back to the wisdom of the midwives in the book of Exodus and their resistance to the Pharaoh’s instructions to murder the sons of the Israelites. Revisit that story, and share what it has to teach you about ancestral wisdom of the grandmothers?

Week 3

  1. Chapter five speaks to how when those in marginalized communities speak up they are often labeled as divisive. Share an experience of a time you felt in any way, for any reason, uncomfortable when someone from a marginalized community spoke their truth about being oppressed?
  2. On page 72 Kat tells us that she believes that recognizing the sacred belonging we have to the Creator and every living thing is foundational to Abuelita faith. She writes, “...we must tell the truth about our past, and the ways we have disrupted our sacred belongingness--so we may heal our future?” What is an obstacle you face to speaking the truth, and how can you begin to overcome it?
  3. Kat tells the powerful story of Rizpah’s unimaginable act of protest by staying in the desert with the bodies of her two murdered sons. Who is a model of courage for you, and how does their example move you toward actively fighting injustice?

Week 4

  1. Throughout Abuelita Faith Kat intersects her experiences with those of her family's and Biblical narratives? What are some ways you can make the connection between the three in your life?
  2. On page 128 Kat encourages us to live holistic lives, constantly evaluating how we might be participating--personally and systemically--in practices that plague others. What does a holistic faith, a holistic life look like to you?
  3. Kat describes the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) as Mary’s war cry of justice calling forth God’s liberating revolution. (p.170) What actions toward justice does Mary's song call you to do?