Southwestern Ruins, Villages, Pueblos and Missions, 1896-1940: H25
After the rise of post-authoritarian democracy in Latin America, both the Catholic hierarchy and laity alike questioned the necessity of the liberationist comunidades eclesiales de base (CEBs) that helped encourage socio-political activism amongst citizens living in the age of dictatorships. This study assessed how the religious and socio-political context of CEB members has changed in 21st century Chile, and whether current communities still have a connection to the liberation theology movement that created them. A combination of surveys, focus groups with base community members, and interviews with liberation theologians were implemented to determine both the beliefs and practices of the CEBs in the 21st century, and how they have changed over time. Both qualitative and quantitative analysis revealed that while the base communities have diminished both in number and in their revolutionary political focus, they have redefined core liberationist tenets to better fit a new socio-political context. This study has implications for understanding the historical trajectory of the base communities, and how their religious beliefs have been maintained over time.
The position and relevance of organized religion is questioned in modern times, and the Catholic Church is no exception. The statements made during the historic Vatican II conference between 1962-1965 are intended to be the Church’s voice through the darkness of modern skepticism, and can be used as a guide for political action and understanding in multicultural, relativist societies. In particular, the documents Gaudium et Spes and Nostra Aetate form a basis for the treatment of outsiders and minorities, particularly in interpreting the history of the Church’s relationship with the Jewish people. Using Arendt’s concept of “rootedness” in tradition and authority, and Voegelin’s of metaxy, this paper argues that there cannot exist a virtueless, relativist civilization. The space between civic law and moral Law, the treatment of individual conscience, and of community rights within society must incorporate the analyses of Rémi Brague, the multicultural group freedoms of Charles Taylor, and the individual liberty of Alain Finkielkraut. What Vatican II calls for is most likely a democratic constitutional order, based on Western principles of the individual and society.
Southwestern Ruins, Villages, Pueblos and Missions, 1896-1940: H24
The debate over stem cell research has permeated American culture for many decades, and the science to which it relates goes back even further. The legalization of abortion inspired ethical worries about respect for human life and what stem cell research would encourage in the community. By examining the biological and historical background of stem cell research, the ethical and moral trepidations of both the secular and religious worlds, and the effect that personal connections and ethics can have on the policymaking process, this thesis paper attempts to work towards a balance between scientific efficiency and general moral acceptance. Analyzing multiple philosophers and scientists, and Catholicism and Protestantism as a case study of the religious community, I find that a shift in federal funding and support towards alternative stem cell methods is necessary in order to move forward in the most efficient way for our society.