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MEXICO: Anti-religious art - the future of religion in Mexico



Faculty tend to be specialists (narrow gauge), whereas library information specialists and curators are wide-gauge. To judge from the information I receive from these people, I think I am medium gauge, but my claim to be especially interested in the history of religion is deflated by this exchange with Ed Jajko, Middle East Curator at Hoover. Commenting on anti-religious "art", I said "I consulted "Department of Spanish and Portuguese" in Stanford's Home Page. My attention was called to the art at the top of the department's section. It shows the Virgen de Guadalupe dressed like a basball player throwing a ball, or perhaps a jai-alai player".

Ed comments:

"Neither throwing a ball nor playing jai-alai (La Guadalupana is not holding a cesta). She is dressed in judo-style clothing and is in a kick-boxing stance. The legend below the images, of which La Guadalupana is one, says: Ester Hernandez. "La Virgen de Guadalupe defendiendo los derechos de los Xicanos." Etching, 1976. I had never thought of God or the Virgin Mary smiting enemies by kicking them a la Jackie Chan. This throws a whole new light on Biblical exegesis. For the curious, the URL is http://www.stanford.edu/dept/span-port/.

My stand: The poor Virgin Mary, the symbol of sweet motherly love. "All generations shall call me blessed". Not the Zapata generation apparently. It is hard to imagine a cruder parady of religion, which is saying a lot. "She is defending the rights of the chicanos" Mexicans have the curious idea that the Spanish colonial "x" is more Mexican than the modern "j" or "ch". Hence the spelling "Mexico" rather than Méjico. In view of the crude caricatures of Hoover officials which decorate Zapata House, they must be viewed as enemies of the chicanos.

Soon will come May 5, the Mexican holiday celebrating the defeat of the French at Puebla in 1862.-This was a setback for the French, who however proceeded to occupy Mexico. It is to be celebrated in Zapata House and above all in East Palo Alto (now largely "Hispanic") as a symbol of the victory of a people over an imperialist power. It sounds like an allusion to the Virgin kicking the gringos. All minorities are encouraged to join in a feast of good will.

As for the word "greenhorn", a suggested etymology of "gringo", a number of comments have been received. Maxine Tomas says it is used in Iowa, which is not a land of cows and cowboys. Elias Castillo says he has heard the word frequently. John Wonader says : " Greenhorn was very common in the old cowboy movies of the 20's and 30's. It was used in these contexts as a recently arrived cowboy aspirant who did not yet "know the ropes". I never heard it used for an immigrant, but I suppose it could have been. It certainly used to be very commonly used for an inexperienced person, usually a young man. The American Heritage dictionary derives it from a young animal whose horns are still green. (This seems very likely.). Despite this, I am very skeptical of the derivation." My question: Do young animals have green horns??

Ronald Hilton - 4/30/01


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