Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 29+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-03-04
Download Issue
  News Index   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds     AIDS @ 32       Marriage
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

NUNN ON ONE Michael Urie airs his 'View' NUNN ON ONE
Michael Urie
airs his 'View'
Actor Michael Urie brings his past movie, WTC View, back to life ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times

BOOK REVIEW The Saint of Kathmandu: And Other Tales of the Sacred in Distant Lands
Extended for the Online Edition
by Yasmin Nair
2008-05-28

facebook twitter del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Sarah LeVine's The Saint of Kathmandu is a memoir about her 30-odd years in communities devoted to spiritual quests. It implicitly argues that what brings people together into massive football stadiums to pray as one or as solitary worshippers in darkened Cathedrals isn't religion—a set of prescribed doctrines—as much as faith: the need to believe in a power that can alleviate the conditions of living.

_________________

Written By Sarah LeVine, $25.95; Beacon Press; 242

_________________

The book is divided into five chapters, ranging from the early '70s to sometime near the present. The locations vary from Africa and Hong Kong to Nepal and the United States. In Nigeria, LeVine, an anthropologist, spends time with Alhajia Rabi, who is both a learned Muslim woman schooled in the Koran and the chief medical officer in the Muslim town of Kaura. In Kathmandu, she's taken under the wing of Guruma ( the name is a title, meaning both teacher and mother ) , a vital woman and female Buddhist monk devoted to the cause of women's equality in her order.

In the most poignant chapter, set in Hong Kong, LeVine befriends her Filipina maid Isabel. Maids are the Philippine's biggest export—they go to the farthest corners of the world to cook and baby-sit for strangers, and many spend years apart from their own children. Isabel, it turns out, married a man who disappeared while she was pregnant with their child.

After being told by her father that he couldn't support her any more, she flies to Hong Kong to work as a maid ( LeVine was her second employer ) , leaving her infant behind. Depressed and isolated, she meets a woman who persuades her to come see Brother Mike Velarde, a local leader of the Charismatics ( Christians who believe they can witness manifestations of the Holy Spirit—and in the power of miracles ) .

Isabel's faith in Velarde is clearly a way of coping with her solitude and deep unhappiness. It's tempting to see this as an instance of religion/faith as an escape, but LeVine situates Isabel squarely within the context of post-handover Hong Kong and after the Asian economic crisis, turning the story into a poignant reminder of the human costs of the neoliberalism that creates millionaires out of a small segment of society and cheap labor out of the remainder.

The Saint of Kathmandu is a compelling book, and it's compassionate without condescension. LeVine writes about strong women, and that goes a long way in shifting the paradigms through which we understand faith in the global south.

Yet, the book tends to portray matters of faith as timeless and unchanging. LeVine is often mysterious about dates ( the Hong Kong chapter is one exception, but then it's difficult to dehistoricise Hong Kong ) . The chapters on Africa and Mexico, in contrast, require a good deal of math to discern when events might have occurred. I found myself looking for clues—the presence of a Walkman, for instance, told me that one chapter was ( presumably ) set in the 1980s or early '90s.

Given that the least historicized chapters are also set in Africa and Mexico, LeVine's book contributes to a dangerously shallow narrative about religion and faith in those parts of the world, about people whose lives are bounded by an unchanging faith, regardless of historical events around them.

But faith is formed by politics and history, and we sacrifice real political change when we render it in ahistorical terms. Reading about how Beatrice, in what we must assume is the late '70s, finds out that her husband's infidelities have resulted in her gonorrhea, it's difficult not to ask what might happen to her faith in a post-AIDS Africa. What might happen to Ana Maria's faith and her attempts to alleviate poverty in her Mexican town, presumably set in the same period, in a country now torn by a neoliberal dependence on the United States? Narratives about unchanging faith might reassure us about the unchanging nature of the world's faithful, but it does nothing to alleviate the drastic political and economic changes they endure.

Sarah LeVine will be appearing at Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark, May 29 at 7:30 p.m.


facebook twitter del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.

Humorous memoir 'Butch' details pregnancy woes 2015-03-04
Facebook adds free-form field for gender identity 2015-02-26
BOOK REVIEW The Escape Artist 2015-02-25
Maya Angelou to be honored with Forever stamp 2015-02-23
Women & Children First celebrates renovation 2015-02-22
PICTURE THIS Photo book documents '80s same-sex couples 2015-02-18
Local entertainment: Burly returns; Dudes season out; exhibits; exhibit 2015-02-17
BOOKS 'Love Together' looks at longtime gay couples 2015-02-17
Book on bisexual men aims to fill a long-held void 2015-02-10
Book of Merman to move to the Apollo Theater Studio Feb. 26 2015-02-06
BOOK REVIEW An American Queer: The Amazon Trail 2015-02-04
BOOKS Leslea Newman gets personal with 'I Carry My Mother' 2015-02-04
Queer writer presents at Noche de Cuentos 2015-02-03
ANTHOLOGY REVIEW Off the Rocks, Vol. 18 2015-02-03
Queer children's book author Gonzalez creates gender-neutral character 2015-01-28
World: Turing notebook; ISIS killing gays; king makes history 2015-01-27
BOOKS 'Boystown' moves from online to print 2015-01-27
Obama part of new edition of Rustin's writings 2015-01-21
BOOK REVIEW Soldier of Change 2015-01-21
THEATER REVIEW The Book of Merman 2015-01-21
Beck Kramer shines with sci-fi Web comic 2015-01-21
BOOK REVIEW The Tolerance Trap 2015-01-21
BOOK REVIEW Best-Kept Boy in the World 2015-01-07
BOOK REVIEW A Cup of Water Under My Bed 2015-01-06
BOOK REVIEW A List of Things That Didn't Kill Me 2015-01-06
Mainstream books: Best of 2014 2014-12-30
Author details 'Winning Marriage' in Chicago book launch 2014-12-23
Children's book about embracing differences 2014-12-17
Gerber/Hart looks back at 2014, receives major grant 2014-12-14
Women & Children First to host Sarah Ruhl 2014-12-11
BOOK REVIEW I Am Jazz 2014-12-10
Robbie Rogers' wild ride, new book, 'Coming Out to Play' 2014-12-10
BOOKS The editors of Black Gay Genius on Joseph Beam 2014-12-10
Lecturer Atshan talks 'pinkwashing,' life in the West Bank 2014-12-09
BOOK REVIEW Porn Again 2014-12-09
HIV-positive beauty queen discusses journey 2014-12-09
The Deception of the Thrush 2014-12-09
Making his Marc: Author Solomon recalls 'winning marriage' 2014-12-03
Fred Says donates; W&CF raises money to renovate 2014-12-03
Rita Mae Brown on new book, coming out and 'Rubyfruit Jungle' 2014-12-03





Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
the online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 



 

AMPA to SCOTUS: Marriage inequality harms military families
 
Gay Wheaton College student makes waves
 
CROI 2015 findings call for bringing PrEP for HIV prevention to scale
 
Entertainment: Wanda Sykes; Gaga; Mo'Nique; Eddie Redmayne
 
Military chaplains go anti-LGBT route
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now








  News Index   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds     AIDS @ 32       Marriage
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.