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Book: Guadalupe, Mother Of The New Creation By Virgil Elizando Answering The Question: How Does Elizando Present The Guadalupe Apparaiton As An Example Of "Conversion Within One's Own Tradition"?

1595 words - 7 pages

"There is no doubt that everyone is called to repent and convert, but, practically speaking, conversion means totally different things to different people, depending on where they are within socio-cultural structures" (Elizando 2002: 81). In his book, Guadalupe: Mother of the New Creation, Virgil Elizando explores and illustrates the truth in the above statement, and how this change of heart, called conversion, is actually brought about. He does this by comparing the means and methods of conversion by the Spanish - with their violent, forced re-culturation, and attempted "European-ization" of the Nahuatl, with that of the apparition of La Virgen de Guadalupe. La Madrecita Querida, (the ...view middle of the document...

It could only fully happen if the natives would lay down their 'pagan and demonic' religious practices, and destroy their relics, statues, idols, and abandon their ancient traditions. Conversion meant that someday, Nahuatl Christianity would look, sound, and appear like European Christianity, except in a possibly purer form, without the rampant corruption present in the European church. Conversion became an attempt to make good Spanish Catholics out of a misunderstood indigenous people.The Nahuatl that converted to this Spanish Christianity found himself/herself caught between two worlds and two cultures, accepted fully by neither, despised by both. On the one hand, the Indian convert was seen as a traitor to his family, ancestry, and historical way of life. On the other, the convert was, at best, a servant that could never be viewed as anything approaching equal to their Spanish saviors. The Nahuatl, as with the rest of the brown-skinned masses, were capable of being saved, but would be barred from ever ascending to the priesthood, receiving ordination, or administering the sacraments. It would be a difficult thing for the Nahuatl to explain how this conversion had been in any way a positive experience, in that it was the annihilation of a people group, their history, and their way of life.Elizando presents conversion, the changing of heart, as "something that takes place not against one's tradition, but within it. Conversion certainly means a dying to sin, but it does not mean a total destruction of one's way of life for the sake of another equally sinful cultural way of life." (Elizando 2002: 86). Therefore, that which had been inflicted upon the Nahuatl by the Spanish, though well intentioned, had very little to do with true conversion. He presents the Guadalupe apparition as a divine revelation for the Americas, bringing the message of Christianity in a way that was completely understandable by America's indigenous people, through their own traditions, in such a manner as to allow them to not have to deny their very selves in order to receive it.The evidences of this are seen in the details that make up the history of the apparition of Guadalupe. The revelation of La Virgen de Guadalupe came to a common Nahuatl man, Juan Diego, rather than to a deserving Spanish bishop, as may have been expected by the Europeans. There was no doubt about this - Juan Diego's place of birth was known and his ancestry extended far into the past of that region. Though considered to be from a noble city, he was nonetheless nothing impressive by Spanish standards, a mere macehual, - common laborer. He was a convert to Spanish Christianity, and was dutifully on his way to Mass to learn more of God. His travels took him by a sacred mountain, the place called Tepeyac. This had been the location of the temple of the goddess Tonantzin, worshipped and venerated there for centuries by the Nahuatl. This would be a place that would bear a special significance for Juan...

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