Salvation, as an overarching theme in the human narrative, has always influenced the ways in which I understand the function and strategies of ministry with young people. Specifically, as a strategy to see within a modified see-judge-act process,1 I have sought to identify the salvific themes evident in the lives of young Hispanics living in Southern and Central California. Working primarily with 2nd and 3rd generation Mexican-American youth, this strategy to see has created a shift in perspective, for me, which has allowed me to witness real beauty in acts that are often considered subversive, dangerous, and non-Christian. This article centers on one such act, fighting, which became the focus of my doctoral thesis.2
In this article, I will draw from that work and advance several claims related to both the interaction of salvific themes between generations and the somatic memory evident in cariño-fighting. Also, as a subplot to this article, I offer this work with an eye toward the future, as Hispanic theologians and pastoral leaders consider how to respond to the needs of young Hispanic generations who appear to be disconnected from a first generation way-of-being, and often self-identify as religiously “unaffiliated.”3
As a roadmap to this article, I will begin by introducing cariño-fighting and the Dolores Mission community in Boyle Heights,CA. From within that context, I will describe distinctions in generations and name the salvific themes in cariño-fighting and the popular religiosity of the community. In proposing a link between generations, a discussion on somatic memory will conclude this article, as considerations for the future of Hispanic ministry are proposed.
As a note to the reader, the investigation that follows is designed to look deeply at a particular act that bares a proximity to violence much like any aggressive act does. Given its proximity, it is natural to assume, at first look, that cariño-fighting is violence-based, which may arouse the readers sensibilities related to violence. This article, however, will reveal that the primary characteristics of cariño-fighting are distinct from violence and yet arise from a daily context affected by the violence of the streets.
Mindful of this challenging context, I invite the reader to consider the theological and methodological perspectives in this article, which challenge us to minister to and accompany young people from the in-between place where both beauty and brokenness exist side-by-side. Only by attaining insights and understanding of the suspect actions of youth, are pastoral leaders able to affect a turn, in action and meaning, toward a deeper relational engagement between young people and the life of the faith community.
Part:1 We Fight Out of Cariño
My interest in fighting was born out of my experience at Dolores Mission Church, a Jesuit parish located in Boyle Heights, Ca, where I served as youth minister. Much of my job took place in the streets, and it was there where I observed a high frequency of fighting between friends, not only among teenage boys, but also among girls. In 2009, my interest in this act grew when I asked some teenagers what this act meant to them.
More than friendly wrestling but not as destructive as violent fist fighting with an adversary, cariño-fighting involves such actions as punching, slapping, smashing into each other, laughing, pushing, trash talking, chest bumping, pulling hair, and kicking.
Based on anecdotal information gathered in 2009 and anonymous surveys completed in 2012 (from a total of 91 Boyle Heights young people ranging from 11 – 24 years of age), 86% of these young people have engaged in cariño-fighting. On average, each one of the 86% cariño-faught at least once a week, and in extreme cases a 17 year-old-girl has cariño-fought over 100 times in a year, and a 15-year-old boy has cariño-fought over 25 times in a month.
In order to effectually understand the meaning behind cariño-fighting, I sought to open up the act so that the life circumstances surrounding the act were given a voice. By doing so, salvific themes emerged from distinct generational contexts, which, in effect, opened a dialogical door between generations -- between cariño-fighting and the life of the faith community. To adequately illustrate this dialogue, I will first briefly describe the Dolores Mission community.
The Dolores Mission Community
Dolores Mission Church is a Jesuit parish located in the Pico-Aliso area in Boyle Heights, Ca. Adjacent to East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights is a densely populated inner-city community consisting primarily of Spanish-speaking Mexican born and first generation U.S. born peoples (the youth are primarily U.S. born.). The spirituality of the faith community is defined by a powerful relationship with La Virgen de Guadalupe, popular Catholicism (Posadas, Novenas, Via Crucis, Dia de los Muertos), Ignatian meditation, the praxis of accompaniment, and a commitment to social justice. In the encounter with La Virgen de Guadalupe, the community sees and senses the fullness of the relationality of God. She symbolizes an aesthetic relational communion between the human and the Divine, and evokes the seeing of that relationship in Christ. In 2009, at the liturgy celebrating the feast day of La Virgen de Guadalupe, a testimony given by a parishioner ended with these words in Spanish:
These words symbolize the transformative presence of La Virgen, as She unites the divine family with the families of the community.
The Youth in the Dolores Mission Community
The youth in Boyle Heights are mostly bilingual and bicultural, experiencing the influences of traditional Mexican culture and mainstream U.S. culture. Most people in this area face the daily effects of poverty and violence, especially young people who are affected by at least one of the four major local gangs. 4
Most youth in the Dolores Mission community, especially those over the age of 11, do not eagerly attend the traditional liturgical happenings of the parish, including Sunday Mass, feast days, Posadas, Novenas, Via Crucis, and the like. While parents and grandparents sing, clap and soulfully participate, the youth are uninterested and claim little relevance between their lives and the liturgical life of the community. They mostly consider themselves on the outside of parish life.
Her presence permeates the neighborhood, but also permeates, unconsciously, the daily lives of young people. Their communion with La Virgen (the name they utter for Our Lady of Guadalupe) is witnessed in the wearing of rosaries, bracelets and t-shirts (with Her image), in the street processions they walk on Her feast day, and in the act of crossing themselves every time they walk by Her statue in front of the church.
The somatic identity of the youth in Boyle Heights also constitutes their spirituality, since it is the primary means through which they express their relationality. This way-of-being is communicated through the physical space they occupy – in the way they stand, relate to each other, demonstrate intimacy, and fight. From “kickin’ it” to mourning for a loved one, they interact with their environment in a somatic manner.
Their spirituality is also manifested in their solidarity with each other, in their experiences of death, in the public nature of their lives, in the act of walking, in their artistic expressions, and in the ways they engage the digital world (as a form of connecting to others). While these clippings only touch the surface, they reflect an innate unarticulated spirituality that is both connected to and disconnected from the larger spirituality of the Dolores Mission community.
Overall, these summaries of generations represent the entrance points through which the salvific themes of both the youth and the adult generations are made known. Yet, before we delve into these themes, a question still remains as to why the term salvation and the strategy of identifying salvific themes are key elements proposed by this article.
Why “Salvific” Themes?
As relational beings, all people possess an inherent communion with creation, humanity, and the Divine. This reality is brought to life in the landscape of lo cotidiano (the “everyday reality”),5since it’s in the everyday where we experience and participate in this relational essence. Relationality can also be described in salvific terms, since it describes our salvific communion with God and others, and points to a need for, and movement toward, a deeper communion. Within this framework,
In this way, pastoral leaders are able to see how young people forgive, and the brokenness that led to the need to forgive. We are able to hear about their aspirations, and also see the obstacles that may deny them of those aspirations. We are able to see how they express their spirituality, while also seeing their mistrust in religious institutions.
Through careful reflection and ongoing dialogue, such snippets help us to identify the themes that are alive in the lives of young people; themes that emerge from their experiences and expressions, but that also point to something more, to a deeper meaning and a larger connection or disconnection.
Each theme represents both the small expressions that brought such themes to our attention, and a larger unarticulated narrative that still needs discovery and tending to.
As a strategy for seeing, then, naming the salvific themes in the lives of young people moves what we see into a deeper process of reflection. It causes us to enter further into the narratives the themes point to, so that we can get at the fullness of each narrative and facilitate its ability to transform the person and the community.
Overall, in my use of the term salvific theme, I am referring to three particular elements in the understanding of salvation: the inherent reality of our communion with God, the everyday experiences that reveal both human suffering and relationality, and the hoped-for transformation brought about by our communion with God and lived out in our relationships with each other.
The Salvific Themes in Cariño-Fighting
& Hispanic Catholic Popular Religiosity
The salvific themes in cariño-fighting first became evident to me through the spoken and written words of Boyle Heights youth. Based on their words, relationality, the body, and play initially surfaced as themes central to cariño-fighting. Using a narrative methodology, I treated each theme as a fragmented narrative that grew as I linked it to other similar narratives found in the realities of their local circumstance, culture, and faith community. For example, the somatic sphere in cariño-fighting links to other “cultural texts,”6 such as street life, bodily agency and identity, the codes of respect/honor and shame, violence, gang life, public life, and the popular religiosity of the Dolores Mission community. Robert Schreiter defines this type of text agglomeration as a “semiotic domain,” which are “large texts that incorporate a whole series of other texts.”7
By considering the act of cariño-fighting as a semiotic domain,
In this way, I was able to identify not only the components of cariño-fighting, but also the ways in which this act is linked to other domains (social, economic, religious) as patterns and sources of meaning.8
It became evident that, as an identity marker, cariño-fighting generates meaning for those youth who are, a) not gang members but who are threatened by gang violence, and b) not engaged in the life of the faith community. These youth stand on the outside of both of these groups, fearful of one and mistrustful of the other. Given their economic limitations and their “street” status, their identity is spurious since their everyday existence is lived on the edges of society, on the outside of the institutions (education, religion, and law enforcement) that have failed them. Cariño-fighting, then, becomes a means to produce experiences of belonging and felt connectivity.
Through a rich analysis of the initial salvific themes,
Such similar themes in popular religion include bodily affect, bodily engagement, play, ritual action, solidarity, relational engagement, public space, trust, and salvific meaning. Equally provocative were the similarities in themes and the unique forms through which each generation seeks to enact these themes. The distinctions and similarities between generations will become more apparent as we delve deeper into the salvific themes.
While the full analysis of these similar salvific themes is beyond this article, I will present three primary salvific themes that are found in both cariño-fighting and the popular religiosity of the Dolores Mission community. They are relationality, public space, and somatic identity.
Relationality in Cariño-Fighting
Cariño-fighting, as a relational act, is a primary theme voiced by Boyle Heights youth. Through their statements,9 these youth tell us that
These genuine statements reveal a level of felt-intimacy between friends experienced through cariño-fighting. They cariño-fight with friends who they trust and care about, “because it makes me laugh and I like playing around with people I adore.”10
As an identity statement, a young girl reported that cariño-fighting is “who we are.” From this, we can gather that the “we” in her statement is her self-understanding connected to the neighborhood, her circle of friends, her culture, and her gender. Cariño-fighting, then, erupts as an identity-expression of who she is (as “we’) and how she is/how we are (survivors).
This identity connection is also evident in the words of other young people saying, “It’s the way it is,” and, “That’s how I grew up.” Each of these statements connects cariño-fighting to the realities of the neighborhood, the vida cotidiana, which also includes the reality of fighting (fighting with the intent to hurt).
In the survey, attention was given to their understanding of fighting, as a distinct phenomenon from cariño-fighting. Of the 41 young people who completed the survey, 25 engaged in a fight over 366 times (combined total) in their lifetimes, while 29 young people reported to have witnessed a fight over 480 times (combined total) in their lifetimes. They described these types of fights as “angry,” “violent,” “aggressive,” with “intent to hurt.”
Connected to this violent context yet distinct from that context, cariño-fighting is known to Boyle Heights youth as an act that exclusively involves friends and loved ones.
Relationality in the Hispanic Popular Catholicism of Dolores Mission
Those who know me know that I was not raised in a community like Dolores Mission, nor did my upbringing subsist in explicit Mexican cultural-religious traditions. I am 3rd generation Mexican-American, but I don’t speak Spanish. I say this because my experience at Dolores Mission was, at the least, salvific. By that I mean, while I have ministered in Hispanic communities for many years, I experienced at Dolores Mission, in a new way, the beauty of my culture, my history, my people, and my God.
This experience also led me to proclaim, alongside other Hispanic theologians, the overwhelming relationality embodied in U.S. Hispanic popular Catholicism.11
This relationality extends beyond the people with whom we walk, and yet subsists in the kinetic motion of walking alongside them. This relationality in popular Catholicism pulls us in and at the same time opens us outward; it makes real our communion with God and God’s undying communion with us. In its totality, this relationality is transformative and salvific.
The quintessential symbol of relationality in the Dolores Mission community is La Virgen de Guadalupe. As described earlier, Her presence is ubiquitous – statues everywhere, images everywhere, Her story proclaimed in the base communities, pronounced in testimonies, and preached in homilies. Each December the streets and the community come alive, starting with daily novena street processions leading up to December 12. Then, early in the dark morning of December 12, song erupts, as the community sings las mañanitas, celebrating the feast day of Guadalupe. This is followed by liturgy and a celebratory meal with champurrado (which always burns my tongue) and fresh pan dulce.
After an afternoon siesta, we start again in the early evening as the community walks a two-mile street procession consisting of floats (depicting the major scenes in the Guadalupe event), adults and children dressed in Juan Diego and Guadalupe costumes, banners, signs, Aztec dancers, music, song, prayers, and walking, walking, walking. Walking straight into the small mission church, the procession and liturgy seamlessly flow from one to the other, as we celebrate the feast day mass, with full adornment, praise and affection. Then, with only a few days break, las posadas street processions begin each night, leading to Christmas Eve.
This quick summary merely outlines the depth of investment and “seriousness at play”12 made by the community. This is especially poignant when the faith community willfully takes to the streets, whenever the streets turn violent. When this happens, the church bells ring, the community gathers in the courtyard, and we walk the streets, led by a community leader holding high the large Guadalupe banner. Together we sing, pray and reclaim the streets in the name of love, peace, and La Virgen. In this, we see the community breaching the boundaries of street life, as the faith community claims the streets as part of the life of the faith community.
The youth in Boyle Heights live within earshot of these symbolic happenings. As already stated, La Virgen is fundamental to their spirituality. Daily I witnessed teens walk by the statue of La Virgen outside the church and make the sign of the cross as they passed by. I once asked a teen why he does it. He simply said, “In honor of Her.” I was most amazed one year when outside the church at 3 a.m., on the morning of December 12, I turned around and saw a small group of teens I knew, who self-identify as “street.”
Although they kept their distance, didn’t sing, nor did they participate in the morning liturgy, they showed up!
This link from the self, to the community, to ancestors and to the Divine is what distinguishes relationality as a salvific theme embodied by U.S. Hispanic popular Catholicism. By drawing us inward and pulling us out toward others, we enter into relational space and come to know it as a space occupied by our history, our culture, and our God.
Public Space in Cariño-Fighting
While the youth did not specifically touch upon this narrative piece,
James Diego Vigil, writing on The Projects, discusses this public way-of-being: “Everyone in the projects is connected because the people are so close together many residents say.”13 He continues: “Competition for space and stress in families crowd children out of the home and onto the streets, where other human forces begin to dominate.”14
Leaving young people isolated and fractured from the social good, the street becomes a source of ad hoc solidarity and protection. Vigil writes, “Youth in such communities spend most of their time being street socialized and learning the values and norms of the street in order to survive and maintain their lives as street people.”15This street identity plays a major role in the social identity of both gang and non-gang affiliated youth, and it’s here, in the public streets, where we see the themes of identity, relationality, and fighting take shape.
Public Space in the Hispanic Popular Catholicism of Dolores Mission
Issues connected to public space such as poverty and street life are not uncommon to marginalized people, and it is here, again, where we can also consider this public sphere as sacred space.16 The Gospels tell us that Jesus breached the standard boundaries of his time and reached out to peoples in all corners of public life. In breaching public spheres, Roberto Goizueta writes, “The fundamental political act [for Jesus] is the act of transgressing boundaries, the act of walking and living with the outcast where he or she walks and lives.”17 As evident in the Dolores Mission community, sacred space also extends into the corners of public life.
At the forefront, the popular religious traditions of the community carry with them, into the streets, the known religious forms, symbols and gestures that constitute the community’s communion with the Divine. Recognized on the streets as something special and sacred, this experience evokes in the people the sense that our God is with us in public space, street-life space, gang-territory space, and home space.
Via Crucis street processions demonstrate this beautiful mixture of the profane and sacred. That it actually happens in the street is central to this public way. Every Friday during Lent, the Dolores Mission community moves, again, to the streets for Via Crucis processions. These processions involve songs, rosary prayers, banners, the carrying of crosses, and stoppage at stations. The stations resemble a mixture of the traditional Stations of the Cross and stations dedicated (with personal testimonies) to the undocumented, the unemployed, the victim, and the poor.
The Good Friday Via Crucis is an extraordinary event that draws hundreds more from the local community and people from all over Los Angeles. One particular year, we processed for over four miles, walking the busy downtown streets, as we made our way to the Federal building in Los Angeles. With a large fifteen-foot cross, banners, signs, song, and steps, this Via Crucis functioned to bring to the foreground the victims of this country’s immigration laws and enforcement, leading to the deplorable separation of families. By carrying the cross of Jesus and the cross of the undocumented peoples, this amazing popular religious tradition, served to unite a “flash of insight,” 18 igniting a transfer of seeing one in the other, Jesus in the undocumented, us with each other, Jesus with us, all in prayer for families.
Through these traditions, we recognize that public space is a salvific theme ripe with beauty and daily life combined to make known the divine essence of life that brings hope and healing. It makes sense, then, that the young people in Boyle Heights, too, want to avail themselves of this sacred essence by enacting their own unique public ritual forms, which take place in the very locations that sacred songs are sung, and prayers are voiced, and La Virgen is shown, and the community unites.
The Somatic Identity in Cariño-Fighting
Photo by Robert Dolan, S.J. ©
As a relational act, cariño-fighting functions to bind young people together through smacks, grunts, and sweat. It’s an intimate physical activity that carries a host of meanings, and, as such, this somatic dimension represents another major salvific theme described by the youth of Boyle Heights.
This exaggerated experience of physical contact is the root experience that shapes all descriptions and assigned meanings. Understood this way, any reference to cariño-fighting as an expression of identity is a statement about the bodily nature of that identity.
This notion of exaggerated contact between bodies is verified by the survey-participants who identified wrestling and punching (followed by slapping and kicking) as the top actions they associate with cariño-fighting. They also identified aggression (second only to laughter) as a top feeling they experience when they cariño-fight. Such actions and emotions collide to create an effect on the body, a release described by several of the young people. One young man writes, “I want to mess around and let some anger out.” Another says he cariño-fights, “to let the anger out.” Another young boy says he cariño-fights, “to release energy.” Lastly, a young girl writes: “It’s more to vent and have fun but not to hurt.”
These statements allude to both the need to release anger and aggression, as well as the effect of letting out such embodied emotions. In this view, cariño-fighting functions as an act that provides a shift in the body. This claim suggests that cariño-fighting, on a bodily level, provides a brief experience of something transformational. This may be why a 15-year-old boy writes that he feels “free” when he cariño-fights.
Furthermore, from these statements we also get a sense that, since friendship and kinship are central to cariño-fighting, the “release” is brought about not just through physical contact, but physical contact with someone trusted, a loved one, familia. One young girl writes, “It’s a way to vent with someone you’re close and comfortable enough with.” A 14-year-old boy writes, “I like when they get mad I could feel little not afraid.” Lastly, a young-girl writes, “When I fight it’s hard to stop me from fighting but with play fighting I can control myself.”
From the statements of Boyle Heights youth, a picture emerges where cariño-fighting is seen as a complexity of themes, physical actions, and emotional experiences -- all contributing to a bodily identity connected to a larger world.
Through their words, we come to know cariño-fighting as an experience that is bodily, relational, fun, powerful, aggressive, intimate, and a source of release. We have also recognized that cariño-fighting sits within a larger social construct that is challenged, impoverished, and violent.
Given these conclusions, we can start to recognize the dynamic of their relational identity at work. From within this paradigm, cariño-fighting emerges as an activity that carries both their experience of alienation and the reality of their communion with others.
We see cariño-fighting as an attempt to be swept up by something larger, in hope that it has the ability to unite and transform. It’s out of this experience of cariño that we recognize the themes embedded in the act of cariño-fighting as salvific.
Somatic Identity in the Hispanic Popular Catholicism of Dolores Mission
The Dolores Mission community is a community of expression, of bodily action evident in its popular religiosity: in posturing, dramas and performances, touch, hugs (where the “sign of peace” becomes el abrazo de la paz), and, of course, walking. This somatic way-of-being is especially evident in the community relationship with La Virgen. It is truly a physical relationship involving all the senses: touching statues, gazing upon Her image, eating in celebration of Her, reverent posturing, singing in praise of Her, smelling the candles at the foot of Her altar, and walking in the street processions.
For the youth of the community, their relationship with La Virgen is also significantly somatic, expressed in the bow of their heads as they pass Her statue, in the sign of the cross, and in the sight of images that draw them in. I recall receiving a painting by a local artist, depicting a gang member resting his head on the lap of La Virgen. I hung the painting in the bungalow (youth meeting space); however, by the time I received it, I had placed dozens of pieces of art on the walls. Buried in the midst of other provocative pieces, I was astonished and moved to see the youth drawn to this particular piece. They would stand there and gaze, no words, gleam in their eyes. I could see that they were moved deeply. I dared to ask one youth what he was thinking. He said, trying to hold back a smile, “That’s cool.”
Deeply moved by La Virgen, these youth, too, walk.
I have to believe, then, that they sense Her presence in the act of walking. They look for something more out of life and want a good education…so they walk. They want to hang out with each other and be in solidarity…so they walk. They want to see their girlfriend or boyfriend and experience intimacy…so they walk. In other somatic ways their spirituality is evident. They bring a sandwich and everyone gets a piece of it…so they eat. They are moved by music and can’t help but move…so they dance. They want to feel a brutal-intimacy with their close friends and demonstrate cariño and kinship…so they fight. This resembles their bodily identity connected to each other, and connected to the Divine. These depictions are what lead me to conclude that the somatic sphere is a salvific theme alive in popular religion and alive in the lives of the youth in Boyle Heights.
PART 2 -Somatic Memory and the Connection Between Generations
Till now, I have presented a correlation between the salvific themes evident in distinct Hispanic generations. This correlation is not necessarily peculiar since salvific themes exist everywhere, in every generation. What I do find intriguing is that they exist is such oddly different forms, and that they are enacted by Hispanic generations that share the same streets, share the same cultural heritage, share an adoration for La Virgen, and live under the same socio-economic circumstances. These three narrative pieces (culture, spirituality, and current circumstances) link to cariño-fighting and provide insight into its rich somatic relationship with Hispanic popular religion.
To be clear, I am not promoting cariño-fighting as a contemporary popular religious expression. I am, however, proposing an in-depth dialogue between this act and Catholic Hispanic popular religion in order to raise awareness not only about the acts involved, but also about the people and generations that produce these acts. Resulting from such a dialogue, I submit the following:
I believe this longing is in their bones, like a somatic memory that reaches back generations, and, as such, erupts in many forms, one of which is cariño-fighting.19
This claim is based on cariño-fighting as a fragmented narrative, which is to say that the act does not carry or bring about the transformation it seeks, yet it functions as a somatic attempt at a transformational experience.
Interestingly enough, this absence draws attention to the connection between cariño-fighting and the popular religiosity of the Dolores Mission community, which does, in fact, carry and bring about the transformation it seeks. Therefore, in order to gain insight into the salvific, somatic longing evident in cariño-fighting, it’s important to identify the somatic memory alive in Catholic Hispanic popular religion and reflect further upon these somatic claims.
The Transformation Narrative in Hispanic Catholic Popular Religion
The histories of Latino/a peoples illustrate a pervasive experience of oppression, exile, and vanquishment. The experience of exile continues into contemporary time, as migrant generations endure the treacherous plight of crossing seas, deserts and borders, only to experience discrimination and alienation in their new homeland, the United States.
This, as described, is the experience of the Hispanics living in Boyle Heights.
I cite this history in order to foreground two prevailing experiences (narrative threads), which have existed in the zeitgeist of each generation stretching back five hundred years of generations to now. They are -- the experience of oppression and the experience of the Divine, both expressed in Catholic Hispanic popular religiosity. As narrative threads, these experiences have walked side-by-side and have significantly contributed to the cultural, spiritual, and somatic identity of Hispanic peoples.
The archetypal event for this communion of narratives is the appearance of La Morenita (Our Lady of Guadalupe). Out of the depths of annihilation, She appeared in sight, sound, and smell embodied in the familiarity of a people. Through the senses, the lowly “nothing” Juan Diego experienced an affective, somatic, and salvific communion with the Divine. This archetypal encounter gave rise to the continued participation in the encounter, by bringing it to life for each generation, as the Guadalupe narrative inspired a myriad of forms that have become honored and moving experiences within the pantheon of Hispanic popular religious expressions.
My point here is to highlight the co-existence and symbiotic relationship between the two narrative threads in the history of Latinos/as, and, as it relates to Boyle Heights youth, in the history of Mexican peoples. Through the dynamic between these narratives, a function of Hispanic Catholic popular religion becomes clear.
This assertion is neither new nor daring, since it is demonstrably evident throughout history and it is supported by many Hispanic theologians today.
Orlando Espín upholds this claim by defining popular religion as, “a parallel complex of symbols, rites, experiences, and beliefs that our peoples, feeling themselves marginalized from the mainstream of society and church, have developed and sustained in order to communicate with God and experience salvation.”20
Roberto Goizueta links the two narrative threads in describing the historical memory of violence “inscribed” on the faces and the cultural-religious way-of-being of a people.
The wounds of Latin American history cannot be erased, for they were inscribed on the mestizo faces of its people, in their language, cultures, and religion. U.S. Hispanics cannot escape their dangerous memories, however hard they try; the memories make demands of everyone, including the victims. At some profound level, all Hispanics know that Latin America is the child of violence.