Vital Conversations: Puerto Rico

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Vital conversations help us to dig deeper than everyday talk, superficial debates between our already standing beliefs, or reinforcements of stereotypes, prejudices and privileges. Puerto Rico, its people, and its status as a United States commonwealth, are deeply misunderstood by many. One avenue toward transformation is engaging in conversations that are vital – those based in real facts, lived testimonies, and resurrection hope.

Please use the following Vital Conversations videos and accompanying discussion questions to take your understanding and conversations deeper.

  1. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, that was “acquired” by the United States from Spain in 1808. What does that mean for its people? Who are they? What is their “language”? Their culture?
  2. Name one way that your faith-in-action view of people informs how you react to people from a culture, nationality, or language group than you own?
  3. Many people in the United States do not realize that Puerto Ricans are also “Americans.” Why do you think this is not more widely known? What–if any–difference does that make when United States leaders are considering how to support Puerto Rico after a natural disaster or financial or other crisis?
  4. How do your spiritual disciplines and faith impact your decision to give money and support in the face of a natural disaster or crisis? What Biblical teachings do you depend upon to decide who “deserves” support from you? Your church? Your state and national government?

  1. What does Dr. De la Torre say about a “color-blind” approach to issues of racial justice and inclusion? 
  2. In what ways does the current discussion about U.S. disaster response in Puerto Rico versus our recent response in Texas and Florida reflect racial/culture themes in this nation. 
  3. How have you (and/or your congregation) responded to disaster-relief needs in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico? What motivated a response–or lack of one?

  1. What do you know of the Bible’s teaching about people who are rich and people who are poor?
  2. In Matthew 19:24, Jesus is quoted as saying, “It’s easier to a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.” The Bible is full of wealthy, privileged people who exhibit generosity and faith (Pharoah’s daughter, Zacchaeus, and Lydia, for example). Why, then, does Jesus say this? What message might there be for those who make decisions about how U.S. financial resources are used in Puerto Rico? 
  3. Review this illustration <ATTACHED>. Discuss possible differences between Biblical/Wesleyan notions of “charity” versus “justice.” How do these concepts relate in particular to the immediate and long-term needs of persons affected by the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico?

 

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