Round Table Discussion

A New Christian America

Have you made any special place for Quincentennial Day? It promises to be a huge even, conceivably even more spectacular than the overblown Y2K phenomenon a couple of years back. I am referring, of course, to December 12, 2031. This is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint, in the year that marks the 500th anniversary of the original apparition of the Virgin to Aztec peasant Juan Diego. The event will no doubt be commemorated with a vast celebration of Mexican and Chicano Catholic identity, both north and south of the Rio Grande, and if current trends are anything to go by, it should appeal to Latinos across North America. That year will probably be seen as America's true and proper Quincentennial, without all of the perilous ambiguities associated with the celebration of Columbus's landing in 1992.

By the middle of the present century, the United States will have a population radically different from what existed as recently as 1965: About a third of Americans will be of wither Latino or Asian heritage. Such a sea change will naturally have its impact on the nation's religious life, but probably not in the manner many of us now expect. When we think of the effects of immigration, we often visualize them through religious symbols—through images of masques and Hindu temples in American suburbs, of women wearing Muslim garb on America's city streets. It seems all too likely that the...

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