“Liquid Faith,” African Style

Duncan Scrymgeour just wrote to us from Los Angeles with a fascinating addendum to Monday’s article:

I read “Liquid Faith” by Mark Bergen with profound interest. I noticed similar movement among Latino immigrants in the largest center of that community here in Los Angeles. I published my research in 1996 in New Trends and Developments in African Religion.

The name of my work may seem strange given the subject, which was precisely the same community that so fascinated Bergen. In the LA of the mid-nineties, Latinos resisted acculturation into a then highly nativist cultural hegemony by adopting the rituals and organizational structures of the Afro-Cuban religion commonly though somewhat erroneously referred to as Santeria.

In Los Angeles, I observed almost every point touched upon by Bergen’s excellent article. Between the rise of a postmodern Pentecostalism and the adoption of what may be religion in Cuba, but is received more like folk magic by Mexican and Central American immigrants, the innovation and creativity of these “outsiders”—to both the institutional structure of the Roman Catholic Church as well as social elites—to create new ways of doing religion is astounding and as Bergen has demonstrated, enduring.