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If a people is known by the stories it tells, so too is a church.  Since its inception in the mid-1970s, Latino/a theology has redefined notions of personhood and relationship, culture and interculturality, and notions of the divine itself. However, a coherent, systematic Catholic ecclesiology has yet to be elaborated from a Latino/a perspective.

This book undertakes that systemization in a multidisciplinary way, drawing upon Latin American and U.S. Hispanic literature as well as theological reflection, to devise an ecclesiology shaped by narrative.  The author analyzes a variety of narratives—fiction, history, religious rituals, demographic studies—to find viable starting points for systematizing the “story” of the Church, which is ultimately what ecclesiology seeks to do.

Natalia Imperatori-Lee is associate professor of religious studies at Manhattan College, NY, where she teaches in the areas of contemporary Catholicism, U.S. Latino/a Theology, and gender studies.

Book Details

Narrative in the Ecclesial Present
Natalia Imperatori-Lee

Cuéntame Table of Contents (978-1-62698-267-3_toc.pdf, 656 Kb) [Download]

I hope theologians and members of the magisterium alike will take seriously Imperatori-Lee’s demand not only to tell stories, but to be better listeners to stories of the joys, hopes, griefs, and anxieties of the whole people of God, especially those told in a different language, accent, or genre than those with which we are most comfortable.
Imperatori-Lee weaves these sources together masterfully, and the theology of church she produces simultaneously is rooted in the faith of the people from whom she comes and addresses the needs of the wider church.
Imperatori-Lee's book sits us down for a rich conversation with compelling stories, which, trusting in grace, should flower into a widening circle of commitment in the U.S. Catholic Church with and for each other, and to count as "presente" those who continue to be silenced.
In Cuéntame, Natalia Imperatori-Lee takes an important step forward in alerting North American theology to the constructive power of Latino/a religious reflection. Building on the traditions of popular religion she injects the energy of storytelling into theology, both the stories we tell and are told, and the literary fictions that can help stimulate our religious imaginations.
Interweaving church history from the margins, art, literature, popular religiosity, demographic analysis, and stories drawn from the sacredness of everyday life (lo cotidiano) with keen ecclesiological reflection and insight, Natalia Imperatori-Lee points a way forward for a genuine dialogue about the nature and mission of the Church in the third millennium.
If you want to introduce or explain anything, tell me its story. Natalia Imperatori-Lee uses this principle to transform the teaching and the discipline of ecclesiology by showing their narrative structure. This small gem of a book tells the particular story of a church within a church and thereby reveals the whole church. Magnifico en su simplicidad.
Fascinating! This book mounts a compelling argument that the study of the church (ecclesiology) should be rebuilt from the ground up, and wonderfully shows how it might be done. The key is narrative, whether personal, literary, ethnographic, or artistic. Drawn from Latino/a experience, here is a method that starts with particular lives and practices and moves to true universal import. Are laity as subjects, not objects, the people of God? Tell me!
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