Toward a Maya Theology of Liberation: The Reformulation of a “Traditional” Religion in the Global Context

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Abstract:

This paper describes the theology or, more accurately, the cosmology of a particular version of Maya religion in highland Guatemala. This version is consciously drawn from the ancient Maya tradition, especially the Pop Wuj (Popol Vuh), often called the Mayan Bible, but it incorporates other ideas and elements as well, including such modern ideas as inclusivity and freedom of membership. Thus while not directly influenced by liberation theology, it offers a potential alternative to it in its synthesis of the traditional and the modern. As in most indigenous religions, it considers the natural world to be sacred, and emphasizes the strong connections between the natural and the supernatural, between earth and the cosmos, and between the living and the dead. But it also presents a moral vision and a path of liberation from the harmful trends of ecological destruction and social disintegration that are such a part of the contemporary world. Finally, although it is deeply rooted in the local, it is also oriented toward the larger world, as its message and its practice are open to anyone, irrespective of nation of origin, ethnicity, or residence.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-5906.00099

Affiliations: Department of Sociology/Anthropology, St. Olaf College. chiappar@stolaf.edu

Publication date: March 1, 2002

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