Monday, August 1, 2016
A new catechism for recalcitrant Indians
I just finished reading a book called "A new catechism for recalcitrant Indians" by Carlos Monsivais, a Mexican author and cultural critic. It is a collection of very short (1 to 2.5 pages each) stories about the interplay of Conquest, history, popular culture, and especially religion in Mexico, from just before the invasion of Cortes up to the present. The stories all have a biting, ironic undertone, and usually turn on their heads the traditional roles and relationships between European and Indian, conquered and conqueror, pious and sinful, modern and antiquated. Despite the dark, cynical tone, I didn't feel dragged down by reading it. Instead, it seemed to speak very well to my knowledge and experience of religion and culture in the post-Conquest Americas. In a sense, we are all a mix of conquered and conquerer, Indian and white (and black), secular and mystical, in this great experiment of the Americas over the past 500 years.