The People: Stories of Faith and Hope in Revolutionary Nicaragua
Butler, Shelby René
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The Sandinista Revolution captured my imagination. Here was a revolution where Christian faith played a key role in the decisions and actions of countless militants and citizens. It is a story about people, about individuals. It is a story about faith, and a story about religion. In the following pages I have attempted to fully explore just how strong an influence religion and its changing theologies were in the lives of several representative persons in the story of Nicaragua. Supposedly, the revolution was fought primarily to benefit the poor, so in my first chapter, I tell the story of Olivia, a poor peasant who learned she could be both a painter and a poet She is the common citizen, poor and Catholic, whose faith was strengthened and renewed through the revolutionary process. The Sandinista revolution was unique in part because of the participation of many young men and women from the upper class. Chapter two traces the path of Luis Carrion Cruz, a young man born into a rich family who is led by his faith to defend the poor. He is the young revolutionary militant, born into a bourgeoisie and Catholic family, who eventually abandons his faith though he insists that Christianity led him to join the revolution. While some Catholic priests who supported the revolution did take up arms and join directly in the revolutionary war, others provided peaceful support to the revolutionary movement. In the third chapter we see how Father Uriel Molina learned to support the revolution despite his reservations. He is the Catholic priest who found his own path to join the poor in their struggle without abandoning his Christian ideals. Still, not all Nicaraguans are religious, and this thesis would be incomplete without considering one final group. In Chapter four, Tomas Borge shows us that even a staunch Marxist and atheist can draw from Christian teachings. Whether this denotes flexibility on his part, or simply the instrumentalization of religion to gain popular support is difficult to tell. He is the atheist revolutionary militant who came to understand that the revolution would fail without the support of his country's Catholic population. The following chapters are written with the assumption that my readers have a basic grasp of Nicaragua's recent history. Realistically, not everyone who reads these pages will have any previous experience studying Nicaragua or even Latin America. To remedy this problem I have provided some basic information following this introduction for those readers who would like to give themselves a quick overview of the historic and geographic backdrop to the following stories. Please also note that throughout this paper I have footnoted helpful information such as scriptural references, Spanish to English translations, and historical background.