"I find that the possibility to know God and to be with God is most alive when I am creating art."
Interview: Offered by ARC
About Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros
"Carolina is a Tejana poeta, Chicana, and Mujerista from San Antonio, Texas. Her work centers on storytelling and faith and has appeared in On Being, Sojourners, Acentos Review, The Rumpus, and others. She is the Poetry Co-Editor of The Journal of Latina Critical Feminism and Poetry Editor of The Thing Itself. Carolina is a graduate student in the English program at Our Lady of the Lake University where she is in pursuit of an MA in English with emphases in literature, creative writing, and social justice. Her recent chapbook, Becoming Coztototl is an invitation to witness and heal through poems which invoke our antepasados and root us in the language of family and home. Carolina’s large project is a decolonial reimagining of theopoetics in the academy as a liberatory praxis."
- from ARC website
About the podcast
"In this episode, Carolina and Tim discuss her ancestral rootedness as an author and poet. They explore her theopoetic lens as a frame for the creative task and thinking about God, the ways in which embodiment and decolonization play a role in her language and academic work, and her wisdom about drawing upon family, food, land, and culture to heal the world. The second half of this episode is also a recording from last year’s Theopoetics Conference Rubem Alves Award Reception Banquet."
- from ARC website
Quotes from Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros
"Art is not separate from God, because all of art is expressing some human condition, and you can't speak of the human condition without talking about God, even if it's not in that sort of language. I think that my art, which is poetry and writing, causes me to deeply reflect on what God is, where God is, how God is. Once I remove this western way of thinking about God, which is incredibly ingrained in me, I find that the possibility to know God and to be with God is most alive when I am creating art."
- Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros, from ARC podcast
* When I cannot rely on theological or academic language to get me through uncertain times, I look to poetry...Poetry can provide the metaphors to help us put language to what it is we are feeling. Poetry can tell the truth when the noise of the world threatens to overwhelm us with too much information...Poetry can open up a way to pray anew.
- Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros, from Faith and Leadership
* I am learning to decolonize my theology by exploring my ancestral roots, navigating my history, and exploring language as it pertains to faith and Latinidad. I was raised Catholic and now call the Episcopal church my home. My work hopes to promote social change and disrupt western canonical thought and process. My work also seeks to engage conversations that explore the dynamic way we come to know God in our lives and in the lives of others. I occasionally call myself a baby theologian.
- - Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros, from her website
A CREATIVE COLLABORATIVE FOR THEOPOETICS "ARC is a collaborative community for those who cultivate embodied and just ways of knowing and being through creative and spiritual practices. We envision a just world where creativity and spirituality work together to promote the flourishing of all creation."
Theopoetics is an activity. It includes creating things and reflecting on things in ways that encourage a sense of the sacredness of everyday life in its fragility, pain, mystery, and beauty. It is inherently communal and is best done in a live setting: a restaurant, bar, living room, street corner, bowling alley, library, church, synagogue, mosque, or sangha.
Theopoetics might not seem like "theology" if the latter word refers primarily to written texts and the activity of producing them, as developed by (all too often) men with scholarly degrees. These "theologians" can be part of theopoetics, but so can people without such degrees who never read their works. Theopoetics is a democratizing, an opening up, of theology.
Artists play a particularly important role in this opening, as does art itself. Theopoetics can be explored and communicated through words (written and spoken), film, music, poetry, dance, sculpture, the culinary arts, and many other means.
In the term theopoetics the word "theos" has two possible meanings. On the one hand, it can refer a higher power or deeper source: that is, to something more than our universe, within which all things are enfolded. Call it the vertical sacred.
On the other hand "theos" can be a name for the poignancy and sacrality of felt connections here on earth, quite apart from questions of an ultimate source or higher power. Call it the horizontal sacred.
Theopoetics appreciates both senses of the sacred and does not worry very much about more precise definitions. Theopoetics is at home with metaphors that have multiple possible meanings, none of which are definitive and many of which are illuminating.
Theopoetics is inherently inerfaith. People from many different traditions and without any specific tradition; people who believe in God and who do not believe in God, or who are somewhere in between -- all are welcome. All that matters is that you care about people, animals, and the earth. Theopoetics is an invitation to embrace what is wise and good and creative, what is true and compassionate and just, in life itself.
So what are the defining characteristics of theopoetics, besides what has just been said? Below I offer ten characteristics. My description below culls from the various definitions offered by ARC: the world''s leading theopoetic network. Feel free to use and modify our understanding of theopoetics for your own purposes.
-- Jay McDaniel
Ten Characteristics of Theopoetics
An expanded understanding of primary texts: Its primary texts go beyond the written text to include music, visual art, poetry, sculpture, film, dance; lived human experience; and the natural world. It takes life and art, not written texts alone, as its primary texts.
Multiple ways of knowing: It affirms many ways of knowing: verbal, mathematical, musical, kinesthetic, empathic, bodily, introspective, imaginative, conemplative. It does not privilege verbal knowing alone as primary.
Social engagement: It is socially engaged and seeks social transformation: that is, the creation of communities that are creative, compassionate, participatory, humane to animals, ecologically wise, inclusive of diversity, and spiritually satisfying – with no one left behind. In this spirit it partakes of the prophetic imagination: the capacity to say "no" to injustice and "yes" to compassion. It speaks of its ultimate hope as ecological civilization: beloved community with ecology added.
Multiple forms of spirituality and emotional wisdom: It affirms the subjective worlds of emotion and feeling that are at the heart of lived experience. It understands"spirituality" is the activity of becoming fully alive and awake, in the immediacy of ordinary life, and recognizes many different spiritual modes: attention, beauty, being present, compassion, connection, devotion, enthusiasm, faith, forgiveness, grace, gratitude, hope, hospitality, imagination, joy, justice, kindness, listening, love, meaning, nurturing, openness, peace, play, questing, reverence, (openness to) shadow, silence, transformation, unity, vision, wonder, X-factor (mystery), Yearning, You (self-affirmation), and zeal (zest for life).
Materiality and physicality: It affirms the material and physical side of life: the bodies of people and animals, hills and rivers, trees and stars. Interfaith theopoetics does not draw a sharp distinction between body and spirit, but instead sees body in spirit and spirit in body. At the same time it is open to the possibility that we live in a multi-dimensional universe in which "spirits" and "ancestors" and a "continuing journey after death" are real possibilities. We understand "body" very widely.
Respectfully Confessional: A process theopoetics can be uniquely Christian, or uniquely Jewish, or uniquely Muslim, or uniquely Buddhist, or uniquely Hindu, or uniquely "Spiritual but not Religious."
Interfaith outlook: A process theopoetics understands that we live in a world with multiple wisdom traditions (religions) and that all should be included in beloved community. Today wisdom traditions include humanism, secularism, and spiritual independence as well as traditional forms of religious affiliation.
Exploratory Spirit: Its reflective side is experimental and exploratory, imaginative and sometimes playful, not didactic and argumentative.
Theistic and Non-Theistic: It welcomes and explores different ways of thinking aboug God, personal and transpersonal, but also includes forms of religious life that do not include reference to God: e.g. secular, Buddhist, humanistic. It is open to the horizontal sacred (felt relationships) as well as the vertical sacred (something more.)
Can be practiced by academics and non-academics. It can be practiced by many different people from many walks of life, of various ages, genders, races, religions, and sexualities.