Neomi Rosenau DeAnda has reviewed Nanko-Fernandez’s book for the PTN.
“theologizing en espanglish” begins from the social location of a Latin@́, but provides a wealth of material for discussion, reflection and action for a multiplicity of perspectives. Carmen Nanko-Fernández shows insightful and creative thought in her new book. Nanko-Fernández writes on a number of different topics from immigration and migrations to pluralism within the Roman Catholic Church in the USA. She takes up the @́ symbol, in part to move beyond the masculine default of the Spanish language, e.g. Latin@́. The use of this symbol also shows the intense importance of social location, and the @’s use in electronic communication, particularly for social networking. Nanko-Fernández’s particular addition of the accent mark serves as “a reminder of the fluidity of language, culture, and identity” (xvi). A broader discussion of this symbol is found in chapter two, “Decolonizing Practical and Pastoral Theologies.”
Chapter 4 on imago Dei provides a postcolonial espanglish read of Genesis 1:26-28. A self-proclaimed “accidental postcolonalist” influenced by Latin@́ biblical scholars, such as Fernando Segovia, Jean-Pierre Ruiz and Fransisco Lozada, Nanko-Fernández states, “As one who relishes in rattling the center, I cannot help but read the Priestly tradition’s account of human creation in the divine image (Gn 1:26-28; 5:1-2; 9:6-7) as a political theology of representation” (52). She reads Genesis 1:26-28 “as seeing ᾱdᾱm as equally qualified to represent the Divine” (53). Nanko-Fernández builds upon this reading to discuss the murdering of otherness, the divine image, and the use of scripture passages such as Genesis 5 and 9 in various contexts as “a compound act of violence against God”(55) and the imago Dei. Yet, Nanko-Fernández does not stop at the level of deconstruction, she begins to construct an image of a hybrid God in motion which situates the imago Dei “not in some abstract and rarefied way but in las luchas that are concrete and unsanitized:…in the imago Dei of those for whom autism speaks, or for whom foreclosures loom, those with compromised health, or way too many bills to pay.” (56-57). The very real and at times startling examples continue in a way that leads the reader to engage these images and render implications for understanding the imago Dei beyond a vague concept. These examples and the image of a hybrid God in motion provide only a glimpse of Nanko-Fernández’s theological cries against intellectual violence caused by acts such as spiritualizing of the other, categorizing the other in general and the romanticizing of any group.
While Nanko-Fernández’s depth of thought raises hard questions, especially for scholars of religion, her accessible language makes “theologizing en espanglish” a good text to use with a variety of populations investigating, questioning, and learning more about Catholic theological traditions today. Nanko-Fernández draws upon a plurality of sources ranging from beísbol to the social encyclicals of the Catholic Church, from the thoughts of Spiritualogian Gilberto Cavazos-González to hip-hop music and poetry. theologizing en espanglish provides a stellar example of deep theological reflections on lo cotidiano (daily lived experiences). Nanko-Fernández uses concrete reality to draw moral implications with a sense of urgency which impels the reader to action.