Maria Clara BINGEMER and Peter CASARELLA, editors. Witnessing: Prophecy, Politics, and Wisdom. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2014. pp. 176. $35.00 pb. ISBN 978-1-6269-8087-7. Reviewed by Kyle M. NICHOLAS, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA 98119
This book is a collection of articles from “the twenty-third anniversary of the martyrs of the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) that took place at DePaul University in Chicago in November 2012” (ix). As can be imagined from the occasion of the conference, this short volume was not a light read. According to Maria Clara Bingemer and Peter Casarella, the volume is aimed at exploring “new horizons… within global Catholicism” (xi). Extracted from the many perspectives in the volume (“the poor in Brazil, U.S. political theology, postcolonial theology,” etc.) the editors maintain that four themes emerge: God speaking within history, memory’s role in theology, how Christian spirituality exemplifies God’s beauty, and that witnessing is necessarily linked to intercultural dialogue.
There are 13 articles from North and South American theologians (and one working in the Philippines). While the book is not separated into specific sections, witnessing is the common thread that ties these articles together. Each contributor speaks of witnessing in relation to Christian discipleship amidst political turmoil and historical injustice. With articles drawing on systematic theology, liberation theology, political theory, and postmodern philosophy, there is plenty in this volume to engage readers from a broad spectrum of interests. The common thread of witnessing then challenges all readers on this spectrum to wrestle with a costly discipleship exemplified in the many in El Salvador who have lost their lives (“the crucified people” (158-68)) along with the six Jesuits from UCA.
At the end of the preface the editors state, “prophecy, politics, and wisdom are not three separate forms of witnessing. The chapters of this book speak eloquently to the necessity of each as well as to their unity.” The articles each in their own specialized way live up to this claim. Furthermore, the concluding article in this volume, penned by Jon Sobrino, centers on the importance of naming a people who have been killed in political violence and oppression. These “crucified people” now have a name, which means, according to Sobrino, that “they are not those who do not exist” (161). The contributors fulfill the aims of both the editors and the call of Sobrino; they flesh out the necessity and difficulties of prophecy, politics, and wisdom in the task of witness, and they do it with a care to name those who have suffered and died.
Overall, Witnessing: Prophecy, Politics, and Wisdom is a constructive collection in which all the contributors remain unrepentant in their call for a renewed Christian witness.