Scattered and Gathered
Catholics in Diaspora
Series: Studies in World Catholicism
- ISBN: 9781532607097
- Published By: Cascade Books
- Published: September 2017
The movement of peoples has become increasingly central to our global socioeconomic, political, and ecclesial discourses in recent years. At times, the ability to cut through the cacophony of noise on the topic to arrive at factual, grounded, and sane dialogue about migration and resettlement remains elusive. Thankfully, we have Michael Budde’s invaluable recent volume Scattered and Gathered: Catholics in Diaspora as a sort of polar icebreaker (in the maritime sense of the term) to clear an intellectual route so that these channels of sensible exchange can take place in what has become a frighteningly rigid and wintry season of polemics.
This edited collection of fourteen essays, stemming from a 2014 international conference at DePaul University’s Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology, has a clear mission: to move Christian and interfaith postmodern conversation forward “on matters of movement, displacement, cultural rootedness, and more” (2). The opening chapter by Robert Schreiter frames the project exceedingly well, carefully drawing distinctions between the more commonly studied transnationalism, which focuses on the flow of people in terms of relationships among distinct cultural groups or between them and the nation-state, and diaspora studies, which is concerned more with the series of networks and communities that people form when no longer living in their country of origin. As the subtitle makes clear, the book prioritizes the latter, without excluding the important undergirding contributions to the work hand-made by the former.
Scattered and Gathered explores with depth and dexterity questions in this wide gamut of scholarship from a number of intriguing angles and contexts: African, Asian, Latinx, Levantine, ecclesiological, biblical, sociological, historical, cultural, literary, and devotional, to name but a few. Along with Schreiter’s legendary status, Daniel Groody and Gioacchino Campese have long been recognized as experts in all fields of theologies of migration, and their contributions here do not disappoint. But the chapters by early-career scholars Jaisy Joseph, Ondina Cortés, and Simon C. Kim provide particularly fresh and important insights from less familiar vantage points. My own ecclesiological appetite was both piqued and sated by Dorian Llywelyn’s study of the cult of Jesús Nazareno de Caguach, in which he claims that the Chilean Chilote devotion as a spiritual locus theologicus is “central to the evolving sense of identity” of this people across generations, and “incarnates those tensions and harmonies between the universal and the particular, the sacred and the secular that are the heart of the central mystery of the Incarnation” (166). Llewelyn asserts that such a tension or paradox lies at the heart of all Christian ecclesial belonging. Perhaps it also defines an essential reality of the diaspora experience that is under study here, one in some sense ubiquitous among all people searchingly moving through life as individuals, and collectively through history as a human race. For it is not Christians alone that the Catholic prayer describes as “exsules filii Hevae.”
Chapters dealing in some more robust way with ecological devastation and its inextricable connection to urbanization and resettlement, and with the technological realities of the contemporary world, which simultaneously connect and isolate us, would have been welcome additions. Perhaps it could be argued that such questions tend more towards transnationalist studies than diaspora ones. But, of course, I also realize that a book of this type and scope is merely an introduction to the topic and not an exhaustive opus on it. In that vein, it is a successful and eminently worthy addition to an underexplored arena of intellectual study. I would recommend wholeheartedly that the book itself become broadly scattered among both experts and neophytes in the academy, and attentively gathered onto all manner of theological library shelves.
Michael M. Canaris is Assistant Professor of Ecclesiology and Systematic Theology at Loyola Univeristy Chicago's Institute of Pastoral Studies.Michael M. CanarisDate Of Review:May 31, 2018