Struggle for the Spirit: Religious Transformation and Populist Culture in Brazil and Latin America
- Publish Date: 1996-11-06
- Binding: Hardcover
- Author: David Lehmann
For 500 years Catholicism has been the dominant religious force throughout Latin America. Its hegemony was based on a complex relationship with popular culture; the colorful and the macabre, the syncretic and the purist, the indigenous and the cosmopolitan, the popular and the erudite have combined to form a uniquely creative and reflexive cultural complex.
But in the second half of the twentieth century, just as the Church sought to reform itself by proclaiming its preferential option for the poor , some of the most charismatic forms of Protestantism, carried along by an open and aggressive hostility to the traditions of popular culture, began to establish themselves at the heart of the popular sectors themselves - in the large urban slums, among Indian groups and, increasingly, throughout other strata of Latin American societies. Today around a fifth of the population of countries like Brazil and Chile Protestant, mostly Pentecostal. Is this a new Reformation? A cultural revolution? Or merely another confirmation of the illusion of liberation?
Drawing on detailed research in Brazil and extensive knowledge of Latin America as a whole, Lehmann explores the predicament of the Catholic Church in the face of the apparently irresistible rise of Pentecostalism, examines the structure and practices of the religious organizations and assesses the broader political implications of these developments. This well informed and carefully researched study sheds new light on one of the most remarkable cultural transformations of our time.