Latino Ministers and Media Culture

At Notre Dame I spoke with two other panelists whom I was very glad to meet. They were David Hayes-Bautistas, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture and J. Gerardo Lopez, Executive Editor of La Opini�n, the largest and longest-running Spanish-language newspaper in the US.
The participants of this conference, “Raices y Alas” were leaders in Catholic pastoral ministry from all over th US and Latin America. The panel title was “The Media.” In Spanish the title was “Comunicaciones (TV, Radio, Prensa, etc.). David Hayes-Bautista made a provocative analysis that credited Latino culture with the good health that we enjoy amidst difficult access to health services, and Gerardo Lopez made a heartening recounting of the struggles and commitment of La Opini�n. I spoke about media as culture and the implications for ministry.
Imagine my great surprise and delight when the participants embraced the notion of media as context and culture and that pastoral ministry had to open itself to dealing with all of the daily media experiences of those whom they serve. I’ve made this case to communications and media professionals with little and tepid response.
Particularly heartwarming was the postiive response to re-looking at religious education curriculum for young persons and emphasizing student participation in the content. By this I mean that instead of teachers looking for “appropriate” media and showing institutionally-produced videos about religious subjects, teachers could instead ask students to bring into the classroom (and to prayer settings) those CD’s, videos and games that touch them deeply. The attendees thought this was a very practical and effective thing to do.
I used one example of current latino pop/rock that could be used. It is a video/song by “El Gran Silencio” from Monterrey. The title is “D�jenme Si Estoy Llorando” It’s great.
I also showed a segment from last week’s Wednesday episode of the telenovela on Univisi�n, “Entre El Amor Y El Odio.”
I am happy that the younger ministry leaders are very eager to move ahead with embracing contemporary popular culture for its richness in rhythm, imagination and symbolism. But hold on….I am are also very passionate about criticizing virorously the Euro-centrism and ultra-consumeristic road being taken , naturally, by Univisi�n and other Latino media conglomerates.

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