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The Future, Mestizaje, and Battlestar Galactica

May 11, 2009

This post concerns the final text we are engaging in our class, Virgilio Elizondo’s The Future is Mestizo: Life Where Cultures Meet. Elizondo highlights two particular terms vital to his thesis:

  • Mestizo“: any person of mixed blood; a person of combined Indian and European ancestry.
  • Mestizaje“: “the process through which two totally different peoples mix biologically and culturally so that a new people begins to emerge, e.g., Europeans and Asians gave birth to Euroasians; Iberians and Indians gave birth to the Mexican and Latin American people” (17).

As I was reading the text and learning Elizondo’s story, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a recent fictional story that addresses some similar themes. This is going to be a weird connection-and I haven’t completely thought it through yet-but a connection nonetheless. The storyline of the recently concluded, re-imagined Battlestar Galactica television series addressed some similar themes to the idea of “mestizaje”. The show featured a tension between humanity and it’s creation of an “other” (cybernetic race) which had become its enemy. The show continually asked questions like, “What is humanity?” and “Where is humanity’s future going?” And interestingly, the writers of the show intentionally included a religious aspect to the story. While many characters had some sort of a pantheistic faith, the idea of a “one true God” was introduced, becoming a revelation that would help both races discover a new path forward (similar to the idea of a new mestizaje). The religious elements were very mysterious (and will be debated for years on web forums!), and I couldn’t help but see a connection with this idea and the meaning of the Guadalupe story and his focus on the way and Person of Jesus as being the way forward.

Elizondo writes from his perspective as a person of Mexican descent who grew up and lives in San Antonio Texas, and also provides the point of view of a Catholic priest and theologian. I found his perspective to be quite interesting and refreshing. In my upbringing in a mainline church (which tended to hold on to too many assumptions of Christendom), liberation theology was sort of looked down upon. It’s not that it was a frequent target of disdain with any intentionality (it wasn’t); it was more of a suspicion of a viewpoint that was less understood by the mainline community of faith. Some study of liberation theology (and its theologians) in college was my first real engagement with it, and I was surprised to find how much I was interested in this perspective.

A new people is emerging, a new identity is being discovered-a new mestizaje…

  • connected to the “Good News”: “the way of Jesus of Nazareth would be such a clear road map leading us to a true salvation that begins right now in this world as soon as we recognize it and accept it as the way”(71)
  • that takes seriously the humanity of Jesus: “The fullness of the Incarnation was not appreciated, and in many ways we Christians are still scandalized by just how human our God became” (75) (I really like Elizondo’s views on incarnation, and that he includes the scriptures in his discussion of the topic)
  • that Jesus, as “the stone that the builders rejected”, is a cultural mestizo: “a source of solidarity among the rejected of society” (79)
  • that this new mestizaje is “redemptive” (81)

The author asks if a religious mestizaje is possible, but believes that in the way of Jesus the answer can be “yes”. That the outward/inclusive/hopeful Good News of Jesus Christ is specifically geared to be able to transcend that boundaries that humanity so easily erects between one another. I believe in that hope, even though I don’t know exactly how this new mestizaje will emerge in the future. Elizondo’s text is helpful for me because I do not naturally think in the same ways that he does, due to experiencing life in very different contexts. But I feel like he has enlarged my perspective both theologically and sociologically, and importantly, helped me begin to see connections between the two.

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