Chapter 2: Religious Parallels

The story continues with the three generals and their hostages. A mediator from the Red Cross, Joachim Messner, comes in to negotiate with the “terrorist” group. In between these moments we have these mini stories about people’s lives. You have the Vice Presidents thoughts about his wife, Esmeralda. How she has affected him in his life, something of which was never discussed publicly about his journey to his current status. Roxane Coss crying in the bathroom while washing up while she thinks about how she’ll only stick to Italy, London, and America next time. Mr. Thibault thinking about his wife, and how he hadn’t fully appreciated her over the years. Father Arguedas and his love for Opera, which is no surprise as to why he attended the party. Dr. Gomez and his previous history as a doctor. Victor Fyodorov with his Russian friend having a smoke, remembering his childhood smoking. Everyone going through some sort of self-reflection similar to before, which is understandable with the circumstances of possibly being shot in the back of the head in the garden by “terrorists”.

At first, I tried looking for more connections and relations to real world events. Including looking up the origin of people who didn’t seem to be of the area. I looked up the origin of the name Joachim Messner, for anything interesting. Joachim is Hebrew, and literally translates to “lifted by Yahweh”. It’s usually spelled as Joaquin, in Hispanic nations, however in this case there is some sort of religious connection being used specifically. Messner has its origin in Germany, which would explain Joachim’s complexion. Nothing interesting was discovered in news reports or historical events involving an individual with this name or a different name. I then focused on the names of some of the children. Ishmael is one of the few names actually written, which oddly enough is also Hebrew. It means, “God Listens”. I’m unsure if it was specifically chosen for the fact that he had to listen to the General to retrieve the ice for the Vice President’s eye. Monsignor Rolland was another name that stood out. The origin of the name Rolland lies in Medieval England, particularly a famous Charlemagne warrior. A bit of research about Charlemagne showed him to be a King in the middle ages with very close ties with Catholicism.

At the end of the chapter, you have Monsignor Rolland being released (not before he gives a religious gesture with his cross). However, Father Arguedas actually chooses to stay and support those being held hostage. This immediately infuriates Monsignor, who wants to strangle the father for this embarrassment. That he too should have stayed and helped “God’s children”. Another interesting connection came into mind about this religious prevalence which related with the terrorist group and political corruption. So far none of the hostages have been killed, which is apparently uncommon. There were instanced in the first chapter that showed the desperation of these individuals, which are extended further in the second chapter. For example, the General’s comment about their access to “ice” when they need it. It becomes clear that these people are tired of what they have to put up with and want change, change they are hoping to make through this violent scenario. The part that solidifies this idea is when Joachim is confused that the demands are being made by “La Familia de Martin Suarez” and not the notable aggressive group “La Direccion”. So we have this group fighting a corrupt government and a chapter filled with religious symbolism. This led to the connection that perhaps Patchett wanted to focus on religious corruption as well?

Catholicism has a few centuries of history in Latin America. The initial spread of which is thanks to Charlemagne, trying to unite Europe and rid of the “infidels” so to speak. The spread of Catholicism in Latin America has had some public announcements from the European side, who know condemn the acts and abuse by their priests during the “Age of Reason” during the 17th century. Statistically in the 20th century, there were about half a billion Catholics. About 70 million of which lived in Latin America. At the dawn of the 21st century, there are about 1.1 billion catholics, 800 million of them in Latin America. This trend continues upwards, so much so that by 2025, only 1 in 5 Catholics will not be of Latin American origin. Catholicism has become extremely intertwined in the politics of the continent, which raises a particularly interesting question. How is it that a predominantly religious continent is scoured with corruption if this religion condemns these actions? This led to certain research papers, as others have found this to be an odd conundrum. Much is discussed about how the expansion of Catholicism, specifically Evangelism in developing nations is, more often than not, the exploitation for ideological purposes by European and American conservatives as a blanket response to any criticisms of the church. Another issue that is brought up is the correlation between the retainment of authoritarian ideologies the more Catholicism is involved in these regions. That the very nature and organization of this religion is actually affecting the type of leadership and government style that is taking place. Brings a new perspective of Jefferson’s statement of the “separate Church and State” within our own government.

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One thought on “Chapter 2: Religious Parallels

  1. bsejdiu942 says:

    Upon Closer inspection, it seems as though there is a wide difference in Catholic population numbers according to different organizations. The site my numbers were received are from “The National Catholic Report”, so perhaps they were flattering themselves by doubling their religious follower count as the projected population of Latin America in 2025 is 550 million. Seems illogical that there are currently 800 million Catholics there.

    14 March 2013.
    There are an estimated 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world, according to Vatican figures. More than 40% of the world’s Catholics live in Latin America – but Africa has seen the biggest growth in Catholic congregations in recent years. (About 480 million, which is a large portion of the existing population)


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