Miguel De La Torre: Meeting Jesus in the Wilderness
Born in Cuba months before the Castro Revolution, Miguel De La Torre and his family came to the United States as refugees when he was six months old. At the age of nineteen, he began a real estate company in Miami, Florida, and became active in local politics, at one point a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. The company was a financial success. Convicted by the biblical passage concerning the “Rich Young Ruler (Luke 18),” however, De La Torre dissolved his thirteen-year-old firm and attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in order to obtain a Masters in Divinity. During his seminary training he served as pastor to a rural congregation. Lacking opportunities within the church structure due to ethnic discrimination, however, De La Torre continued his theological training and obtained a doctoral. The focus of his academic pursuit was social ethics within contemporary U.S. thought, specifically how religion affects race, class, and gender oppression. He specialized in applying a social scientific approach to Latino/a religiosity within this country, Liberation theologies in the Caribbean and Latin America, and postmodern/postcolonial social theory.
De La Torre is one of the most (if not the most) prolific contemporary Latinx religion scholars. Since obtaining his doctoral in 1999, Dr. Miguel De La Torre has authored several hundred articles and over thirty-two books, including the national award-winning Reading the Bible from the Margins, (Orbis, 2002); Santería: The Beliefs and Rituals of a Growing Religion in America (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2004); Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins, (Orbis, 2004); and the two-volume Encyclopedia on Hispanic American Religious Cultures (ABC-CLIO, 2009). He presently serves as Professor of Social Ethics and Latinx Studies at Iliff School of Theology in Denver.
Within the academy he is a past-director to the American Academy of Religion, 2012 and served as co-chair of its Ethics Section; President of the Society of Christian Ethics, and the Executive Officer (and cofounder) of the Society of Race, Ethnicity and Religion. Additionally, he is the founding editor of the “Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion.” A scholar-activist, Dr. De La Torre has written numerous articles in popular media, https://ourlucha.wordpress.com/ and has served on several civic organizations.
De La Torre received a Fulbright Specialists Scholarship allowing him to teach at Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia during the summer of 2012. He has also taught classes at Johannesburg University in South Africa (Fall 2014) and Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany (Fall 2015). He recently received a Louisville Institute Grant that will allow him to do research in Cuba for an upcoming book on the Political Theology of José Martí.
(Note: This biography was up-to-date as of the date of the lecture. Biographies are not updated over time.)