After hearing so much about Liberation Theology in various works on social justice and poverty, I wanted to read something that dealt directly with Liberation Theology. Clodovis and Leonardo Boff are no longer on speaking terms, but there was a time when they were ideologically aligned, and one result of their collaboration was this book.
At barely 100 pages, this is a quick read. I found myself pleased with much of what it had to say, although I found it fairly straight forward — perhaps a bit “vanilla” although maybe that is viewing it in the context of today rather than the time it was written. If you’ve read a lot of books that deal with social justice, there probably won’t be many surprises within this text. In the end, I found myself at odds with the sense that one must respond to persecution and oppression by seeking a biblical predication for action. To me, morality is inherent within humanity — we all have the capacity to understand to oppression is wrong, and I am a bit at odds with any doctrine that requires a religious sanction to be offended. I would argue that God embeds in each of our hearts a sense of right and wrong, and to come to the defense of others requires listening only to one’s heart, not searching religious texts for a particular passage that can be used as a call to action. That feels more like finding loopholes than finding morality, especially given some of the questionable precepts within most ancient religious texts.
My favorite quote comes on page 49:
Sometimes love for the poor can become so intense that individuals give up their own station in life to share in the sufferings of the poor, even to the point of sharing their premature death. This is perfect liberation, for they have set themselves free from themselves and, in following Jesus, the poor man from Nazareth, they have freed themselves fully for others and for the God dwelling within these others.