Discerning Grace in Human Experiences (4)


Theological language elaborated by Christian priests and religious, according to Boff: has even made grace misunderstood as something that can be monopolized by church. It was expressed that only in and through church, grace and salvation come to us and that we can encounter Christ only through the church.

It is precisely on the contrary. It is grace that contains and includes the church within itself Boff suggests that grace, as well as God and Christ are always free. It manifests itself in the world through much mediation. The church is admittedly an explicit, conscious and communitarian mediation of grace. Yet, it is not the only one.

All genuine grace which tends to manifest themselves visibly and form community can certainly be found outside the church alike.

As mentioned above, there is also a possibility of dis-grace in human history or experience. Moreover, Boff indicates that human beings, in fact, are being simultaneously graced and dis-graced.

Human beings can be both openness and closeness, Christ and Antichrist. Their concrete lives always consist of this paradoxical experience of grace and dis-grace. As also mentioned above, Boff insists that grace can only be grace if emerges from human experience and history.

Since human experience and history have individual and structural dimension, so does grace. The paradoxical reality of grace vis a vis dis-grace and the individual and structural dimension of grace can be discerned closely in his account on the experience of the people in Latin America where he lives, works and struggles with the people there.

To discern clearly the phenomenon of grace and dis-grace in Latin America, Boff believes that we should take cognizance of the situation of domination and dependence prevailing there, namely that the big-power centers (such as United States and European countries) dominate Latin America and Latin America becomes dependent upon them.

This situation over determines the main aspects of underdevelopment in Latin America.Regarding this situation, Boff explains that historically, the economic, social, cultural and political lives in Latin America were implanted by the imperial centers of power (some European countries), since in the sixteenth century. Even after Latin American countries got their independence in the last century, most of their political structure are still merely internalized the older system of dependence on European centers of power.

National elites, who are supported by the centers, tend to maintain this structure of dependence for their own advantages. What the people in Latin America think, what they are to learn, what and how they are to produce, what the social relations of production are to be, and how the international division of labor is to be organized are still very much determined by the imperialist centers of power.

Against Communism

In modern ages, especially in the time of cold war against communism, United States supported economically and politically the military regimes, which took over the political power in most of Latin American Countries. They used Latin American Countries as their satellites and as the last resort to prevent the expansion of the communism. Thus, United States became the new Latin America’s big centre power.

This economic, sosio-cultural and political dependence has pervaded in Latin America throughout its history. It is made worse with the limitation of human resources and technology within Latin American countries, which consequently never improved. Worst, their rulers believe falsely that socio-economic progress could only come through submissive ties with the imperialist centers of powers and that they could immediately achieve the well-being that had been achieved by the central countries.

While ruling class and elite classes gets much benefit from the centers for maintaining this dependence, this situation results in poverty and marginalization of the vast majority of Latin American. Boff indicates that 75% Brazilian live a relatively marginal existence.

to be continued


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