What Women on the Margins Teach Us about Wisdom, Persistence, and Strength
"[A] powerful debut. . . . This persuasive testament will appeal to Christians interested in the lesser-known women of the Bible."--Publishers Weekly
"Armas expertly weaves her own abuelita's history of personal faith and resistance into each chapter and intersects it with biblical text, creating an approachable work."--Library Journal
What if some of our greatest theologians wouldn't be considered theologians at all?
Kat Armas, a second-generation Cuban American, grew up on the outskirts of Miami's famed Little Havana neighborhood. Her earliest theological formation came from her grandmother, her abuelita, who fled Cuba during the height of political unrest and raised three children alone after her husband passed away. Combining personal storytelling with biblical reflection, Armas shows us how voices on the margins--those often dismissed, isolated, and oppressed because of their gender, socioeconomic status, or lack of education--have more to teach us about following God than we realize.
Abuelita Faith tells the story of unnamed and overlooked theologians in society and in the Bible--mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters--whose survival, strength, resistance, and persistence teach us the true power of faith and love. The author's exploration of abuelita theology will help people of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds reflect on the abuelitas in their lives and ministries and on ways they can live out abuelita faith every day.
1. Research Grief
2. Abuelita Theology
3. A Sabiduría That Heals
4. Mujeres of Exodus
5. Telling La Verdad
6. Cosiendo and Creating
8. Protesta and Persistence
10. A Divine Baile
11. Madre of Exile
12. Resolviendo in La Lucha
"Kat Armas masterfully integrates biblical truth with social reality and invites us to consider learning from marginalized voices as a way of growing in the wisdom and knowledge of Christ. The combination of surgical scholarship and poetic storytelling makes this book a treasure and a healing balm for those of us trying to imagine a way forward in our faith."
Sandra Maria Van Opstal, executive director, Chasing Justice
"Reading Abuelita Faith is like feasting on a faith prepared by generations. Through incisive cultural commentary, beautifully written memories of family, and the retelling of biblical narratives, Armas invites us into a faith that is relational and embodied. She reminds us that theology can be lived, not just theorized by those with the most social power, and that it's happening precisely in the places where we have been told not to look."
Hillary L. McBride, psychologist, author, speaker, podcaster
"Armas brilliantly weaves together Scripture, theology, history, postcolonial and feminist scholarship, personal experience, and culture to demonstrate that powerful named and unnamed women, who through the quotidian have affected the outcome of history, fill not only the Bible but also our lives. These women, including our abuelitas and other mentors, are theologians, teachers, and activists who embody the wise and loving way of Christ. It is at our peril if we fail to embrace them and give them due honor. Overlooking and underappreciating them impoverishes us and the world. Abuelita Faith is compelling, sharp, inspiring. Let us sit at Armas's feet that we might gain the wisdom we so desperately need to embody abuelita faith ourselves. I anxiously look forward to reading whatever else she publishes!"
Marlena Graves, author of The Way Up Is Down: Becoming Yourself by Forgetting Yourself and 40 Days on Being a Nine: Enneagram Daily Reflections
"Kat Armas's Abuelita Faith is a tour de force. She immediately and boldly draws us into her abuela's magnetic and wise Cuban embrace while opening up an intimate universe of courageous, faith-filled women inside the biblical narrative and beyond. As Armas tells of her own personal and communal formation under her abuela's gutsy, loving, and resistant spiritual life, she also carefully analyzes Scripture and evokes a tantalizing humanness in communion with God, family, and the world. Abuelita Faith is not an abstraction, an ideal, or an ideology; it's a challenging witness to a vigorously embodied hope."
Mark Labberton, president, Fuller Theological Seminary
"Sometimes I read and have to tell someone about it. Other times I read, and it makes me sit, feel, think, reread, and pause. Kat Armas's Abuelita Faith does just that--it's a theological miracle. She invites us to the space of the margins--a space full of struggle, failure, bodies, beauty, and the humanity we all desire to see and embrace. Her words dance and sing in ways that made me rethink what it means to dance and sing and write as a theologian. This story, these words, this type of love, is the path to our liberation. This journey will shake us, put us back together again, and make us free."
Dante Stewart, writer and speaker
"Armas invites us to attend the weekly game of dominoes, sit with her family, hear their stories, and make and create together with familia. She weaves together the wisdom of her ancestors with the stories of women in Scripture, providing insights into how to survive and thrive in one's faith. Pastors, educators, and those trying to make sense of their own stories in light of the biblical story need this book. It will help people undo and heal from generations of patriarchy and envision a faith community that is guided by the wisdom, knowledge, and leadership of women."
Patrick B. Reyes, award-winning Chicano author of The Purpose Gap and Nobody Cries When We Die
"Abuelita Faith offers a master class for those seeking liberation at the intersection of their own stories and Scripture. Many books explore theology, but very few offer such an expansive picture of God told through the eyes and stories of overlooked people. This book invites all of us to greater liberation through finding ourselves in God's story--the story of our ancestors who showed up and made a way for us."
Brandi Miller, host, Reclaiming My Theology podcast
"Abuelita Faith does something few writings are able to do. It gives us back our memories of God in the places that matter the most: our homes and bodies. Thinking, sensing, doing, and loving in the name of God have become white, male, rational, normative operations in the Western space. But Armas has found God operating powerfully in the underside of academia, the church, and the city--that is, at home, through the wisdom and practice of mujeres luchadoras (women in the struggle) and life givers, true teachers of the Spirit. Armas combines the best of postcolonial theories with biblically informed and ethically reconstructive approaches to everyday life. A must-read for those of us wishing for a different way of doing theology and faith."
Oscar García-Johnson, associate professor of theology and Latinx studies, Fuller Theological Seminary; author of Spirit Outside the Gate: Decolonial Pneumatologies of the American Global South
"Abuelita Faith is a celebration of women as genuine sources of theology. Leading from her experience as the daughter of Cuban immigrants, Kat Armas shows us how the personal and biblical narratives of everyday women are essential to living unfragmented realities of life and faith. This is a book for churches, seminaries, men, and women."
Michelle Ami Reyes, vice president, Asian American Christian Collaborative; author of Becoming All Things: How Small Changes Lead to Lasting Connections across Cultures
"With this stunning debut, Kat Armas makes her mark as one of the most brilliant biblical scholars of her generation. Her beautiful and accessible prose brims with hope as she advocates for the marginalized and oppressed women in the biblical text with nuanced and original interpretations. With biblical expertise and sanctified imagination, Armas invites readers to see what la Espíritu Santa (the Holy Spirit) has shown her in Scripture and to be transformed by reading the Bible with her. In Abuelita Faith readers will encounter the liberative power of wrestling with the biblical text while they plumb the depths of the riches of Latinas' wisdom traditions. I am deeply grateful for all the ways Armas has offered me gentle encouragement to see my ancestresses anew. Her voice is an important one for our time."
Karen González, theologian, immigration advocate, and author of The God Who Sees
"Abuelita Faith is perfectly named. Armas presents the traumatic history of the spirituality of marginalized women in a tender invitation as gentle as a grandmother setting a table. Like all good food, this book is meant to nourish--not only to open us to the lived experience of 'others' but to find in their witness a sustaining grace. Armas's delicate blend of history, experience, theology, and Scripture offers a rich meal that feeds our decolonization and reconstruction of Christian faith long after the last plate."
Emmy Kegler, author of One Coin Found: How God's Love Stretches to the Margins and All Who Are Weary: Easing the Burden on the Walk with Mental Illness
"In inspiring prose of metaphorical flor y canto (flower and song), Armas honors the spiritual dignity of our abuelas, mothers, and aunts, who are the unsung spiritual heroes of our Latine families. In the stories of women from sacred Scripture, she unearths the themes of their lessons and uplifts the abuelita faith that has shaped the Brown church for centuries."
Robert Chao Romero, associate professor, César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o and Central American Studies, UCLA; author of Brown Church
"[Armas] urges readers to respect the faith and wisdom of women--especially immigrant and Indigenous women--in her powerful debut. . . . Armas's passion for her community and family history shines throughout, and her biblical exegesis powerfully lifts up lesser known tales--such as the mysterious wise woman of Abel, and Rizpah, one of Saul's concubines, who responds to the death of her sons with silence. Armas makes a forceful argument that society's most downtrodden merit respect and attention. This persuasive testament will appeal to Christians interested in the lesser-known women of the Bible."
"A thoughtful examination of Christianity through the lens of women-focused theology. . . . Armas's nuanced research enriches the reader's experience and broadens the interpretation of biblical stories often only told through Western and European lenses. For the author, the context of abuelita faith is a narrative of women's empowerment and social justice that comes to fruition in examining the biblical histories of Ruth, Naomi, Tamar, and Rizpah. Armas expertly weaves her own abuelita's history of personal faith and resistance into each chapter and intersects it with biblical text, creating an approachable work. . . . Armas's gift for storytelling and in-depth research in Latine theology make for an account that's accessible for lay readers as well as religion scholars interested in Christian theology through the lens of Indigenous knowledge systems. For public and academic libraries focused on inclusive, representational theological collection development."
"With its framework of diverse scholarship, Abuelita Faith is a vibrant theological survey."
"We are always on the lookout for that sweet-spot of a narrative of how a person--in this case, a person of color--narrates her work and tells and shows just how it's done with some (but not too much) academic cred. And at this, in Abuelita Faith, Kat Armas is my new hero."
Hearts & Minds Books
- Excerpt Download PDF