Synopses & Reviews
"Cesar Chavez treated religion as he treated so many topics of importance in his life: as something to be willed into contribution to a higher good. This volume describes with poignant specificity the strategies of spiritual hybridization that assured Chavez's iconic persistence. Luis Leand#243;n has written a book equal in grace, compassion, and subtlety to its subject."and#151;Kathryn Lofton, Professor of Religious Studies, American Studies, History, and Divinity at Yale University
"Leand#243;n offers a powerful new interpretation of the life and work of Cesar Chavez that more fully accounts for Chavezand#8217;s religious appeal and spiritual movement building. Leand#243;n crafts a new story, a nepantla story, of Chavez the human, civil, and labor rights movement leader whose social justice work fused with his ecumenical religious perspective in what Leand#243;n aptly terms his 'political spirituality.' This vital new insight on Chavezand#8217;s spiritual and humanist work will serve scholars in many fields."and#151;Theresa Delgadillo, Associate Professor of Comparative Studies and Latino/a Studies at Ohio State University
"This impressive new book is a project in radical optics. Herein Leand#243;n asks us to put aside for a moment our understanding of Chavez the labor unionizer who brought better wages and work conditions to Californiaand#8217;s farmworkers, and to focus more sharply on the spiritual man who drew on a number of ecumenical religious traditions to dignify human life. Studying Chavezand#8217;s spirituality, his ritual practicesand#151;fasting, public prayers, penitential pilgrimagesand#151;and the sources of his prophetic vision, we gain a richer understanding of the complexity of Chavezand#8217;s humanism and his impact in creating communities more nurturing and tolerant of difference."and#151;Ramand#243;n A. Gutiand#233;rrez, Preston and Sterling Morton Distinguished Service Professor of American History and the College at the University of Chicago
The Political Spirituality of Cesar Chavez: Crossing Religious Borders maps and challenges many of the mythologies that surround the late iconic labor leader. Focusing on Chavez's own writings, Leand#243;n argues that La Causa can be fruitfully understood as a quasi-religious movement based on Chavezand#8217;s charismatic leadership, which he modeled after Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi. Chavez recognized that spiritual prophecy, or political spirituality, was the key to disrupting centuries-old dehumanizing narratives that conflated religion with race. Chavezand#8217;s body became emblematic for Chicano identity and enfleshed a living revolution. While there is much debate and truth-seeking around how he is remembered, through investigating the leaderand#8217;s construction of his own public memory, the author probes the meaning of the discrepancies. By refocusing Chavez's life and beliefs into three broad movementsand#151;mythology, prophecy, and religionand#151;Leand#243;n brings us a moral and spiritual agent to match the political leader.
About the Author
Luis D. Leand#243;n is Associate Professor in the department of Religious Studies at the University of Denver and author of La Llorona's Children: Religion, Life, and Death in the U.S.-Mexican Borderlands.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
(Re)Introduction. Enfleshment: Cesarand#8217;s Body
1. Mythology: Think Different
2. Prophecy: In the Path of Gandhi and Martin Luther King
3. Religion: A Revolutionary Spirit
Conclusion. The Lost Gospel: and#147;God Help Us to Be Men!and#8221;