Scholar-activist Miguel De La Torre, who serves as a professor of social ethics and Latinx studies at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, will preach at the 10:45 a.m. Sunday Ecumenical Service of Worship and Sermon in the Amphitheater, and serve as Week Nine chaplain. The title of his Sunday sermon will be “Was Jesus a Racist?”
“The danger facing academic scholars is the temptation of becoming intellectual elites, pontificating from ivy towers that are disconnected from the everyday lucha, the everyday struggle faced by the majority of the world’s inhabitants,” De La Torre wrote on his blog, “Our Lucha.” “Those of us who claim to be scholar-activists, radically engage issues concerning social justice from the margins of society attempting to overcome this disconnect; not with the hubris of believing we are right and those who disagree are wrong; but with the humility that from the perspective of those who suffer political, economic, and social oppression we can commit, in solidarity, to seeing the abuse, searching for answers, and stressing action – praxis that can lead toward social and spiritual liberation.”
De La Torre will share his faith journey at the 5 p.m. Sunday Vespers in the Hall of Philosophy. Monday through Friday, he will preach at the 9:15 a.m. Ecumenical Services in the Amp. His topics include: “Meeting Jesus in the Wilderness,” “Remember the Sabbath,” “Marrying Down,” “What Must I Do to Inherit Eternal Life?” and “Embracing Hopelessness.”
De La Torre was born in Cuba months before the Castro Revolution; his family came to the United States as refugees when he was 6 months old. At 19, he started a real estate company in Miami, and became active in local politics, running once for the Florida House of Representatives.
His real estate company was a success, but after 13 years, De La Torre dissolved his firm — inspired by Luke 18 and the “Rich Young Ruler” — and attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned his Master of Divinity. During his seminary training, he served as pastor to a rural congregation. Lacking opportunities within the church structure due to ethnic discrimination, however, De La Torre continued his theological training and obtained a doctorate. The focus of his academic pursuit was social ethics within contemporary U.S. thought, specifically how religion affects race, class and gender oppression. He specializes in applying a social scientific approach to Latinx religiosity within the United States, liberation theologies in the Caribbean and Latin America, and postmodern/postcolonial social theory.
A prolific contemporary Latinx religion scholar, De La Torre has authored several hundred articles and over 32 books, including the award-winning Reading the Bible from the Margins, Santería: The Beliefs and Rituals of a Growing Religion in America, Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins; and the two-volume Encyclopedia on Hispanic American Religious Cultures.
De La Torre is a former director of the American Academy of Religion, and served as co-chair of the Academy’s Ethics Section. He served as president of the Society of Christian Ethics in 2012, and co-founded the Society of Race, Ethnicity and Religion, as well as the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion.
De La Torre received a Fulbright Specialists Scholarship allowing him to teach at Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia during the summer of 2012. He has also taught classes at Johannesburg University in South Africa in 2014, and Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, in 2015. He recently received a Louisville Institute grant that will allow him to do research in Cuba, for an upcoming book on the political theology of José Martí.