There is no glory without the cross/ and with the cross,
no eternal sorrow / Holiness and the cross are the same/ There is no cross without
a saint,/Nor any saint without a cross
–Lope de Vega.

I am not moved, my God, to love Thee by the Heaven Thou
hast promised me; nor am I moved by fear of Hell to cease for that reason to
offend Thee. Thou art what moves me, Lord; it moves me to see Thee nailed to a
cross and scorned; it moves me to see Thy body so wounded; I am moved by the
insults and death that Thou undergoest.

I am moved, in sum, by love for Thee, and so greatly
that, even if there were no Heaven, I would still love Thee, and even if there
were no Hell, I would still fear Thee.

Thou dost not have to give me anything to make me love
Thee, for even if I did not hope for what I do hope for, I would love Thee the
same as I do love You.— Teresa de Avila

I will see where your heaven is, and you tell me if that
is my hell  — Alain Garrido

The real function of the true theologian is to systematize the various, and often scattered
criteria of faith and belief, not necessarily born in him, but in a given
society, or stratum of society, that he cultivates and then transmits by
whatever significant means. This arduous task is made from raw materials which
can be as elaborate as the great sacred books and their different
interpretations, or as seemingly simple as the totemic ceremonies of the

Within the emerging theology of religions it can be said that regardless of the religious
system to which an individual adheres, all believers in the world (and perhaps
there is someone who at his core is not a believer?) can be divided into those
who profess an altruistic faith, constructive and uplifting, and those who
practice a pessimistic way of life, selfish or prone to fanaticism and
superstition. And it can be affirmed that some groups or religious movements
are more aimed at one or the other of these positions: although it is perfectly
possible to find positive and optimistic believers even in the most retrograde
religious movements, and vice versa. There can always exist a pure and
undefiled religion, to paraphrase James, just as life itself can be found in
the most diverse and precarious conditions.

Within the framework of Christianity these expressions could be identified by theologies
motivated by glory, or motivated by the cross–contrasting ways of perceiving
the faith in Jesus Christ. In the first, as the name would indicate, we
categorize those whose motivation is belief, as the name suggests in what one
expects to receive (paradise) or what one is trying to avoid (Hell), whether or
not these states are considered to be more or less literal or allegorical. The
second category is concerned with that which we are compelled to do without
measuring interests other than a voluntary sacrifice for the sake of the common
good or the welfare of others, as exampled by the fact that Jesus of Nazareth
emptied himself (Greek: kenosis) in an unsurpassable trans-dimensional and
gigantic shift, from crowning glory to vile torture on the cross. Every
Christian group or movements during their two thousand years of interwoven history
can be placed within one or the other of these theological tendencies.

Groups as diverse as the International Bible Students of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or of
the Church of the Latter-day Saints (Mormons) could be included at first sight
within the theological atmosphere of expectant glory, and others such as the
orders of Saint Francis of Assisi or Teresa de Avila amongst those motivated by
the way of the cross. Contemporary movements as varied as the Neocatechumenal,
Opus Dei, the Unification Church, the City of God, The Family of Love, the
Legionaries of Christ and the so-called prosperity theology or other faith
movements can be easily demarcated as exponents moved by a desire for glory
(though not as other worldly a glory as preached by the first-mentioned
groups), and others like the so-called liberation theology and black theologies
among those identified with the cross. We should not forget that regardless of
the tendency of the group, adherents in each of these groups or movements can
be found who are motivated by a particular glory or for a particular cross.  And depending on the intensity of their
influence within each group, these individuals may become agents of change or
moderation within their faith community, so that a group or movement in a
particular period or place in search of glory at the expense of the cross may
well be in another particular context of time or place be more inclined to
sacrifice to the pursuit of the holy grail, or to gold.  The original cloaks of the mendicant
Franciscans could testify against their present day modern and luxurious capes,
as can such groups as the International Bible Students, direct descendents of
the widespread, uncontrollable and alienating nineteenth century expectation of
the imminent arrival of Jesus, who today are increasingly prominent and active
among the needy and forgotten people of the so-called Third World by helping to
alleviate their pain.

This latter can serve as an example of the dynamics that accompanies any religious group,
including within the Cuban context, which certainly suggests that this dialectic
is not in isolation but in constant tension with the socio-political
environment in which a community of faith operates.  Note the conclusions arrived at by
specialists within a Socio-Religious Studies Department and expressed in the
paper Religion and Social Change: The Cuban religious field in the 90’s [1].
These are only short notes but they are highlighted by their contrast with
those published in The Truth About Jehovah’s Witnesses [2] which can certainly
be classified as a poisonous monograph with 253 pages and plenty of graphic
material entirely dedicated to that religion, with totally dismissive language
and without any possibility of reply, and with the added bonus of a surprising
anonymity. In recent studies, in spite of classifying this group as being  an organization peculiarly contradictory,
possibly more so than other expressions and religious groups  it recognizes that  during the decade of the 90’s there have been
significant changes in the global and national leadership of the Witnesses  that their publications  rather emphasize human values  and that in addition  there is evidence of an understanding by the authorities of the non use of clandestine methods  which  project change in their socio-politics and possible their internal regulations have been relaxed .  It is also revealed that  the principal world
leaders of the Jehovah s Witnesses have visited the country and have met with the political authorities .

This example of the Jehovah’s Witnesses shows how the variations in the socio-theological
projection make it possible to experience a religious group, which of course has to do with the pendulum swinging
between a theology of glory and a theology of the cross. Remember that
the history of the church in general, or of particular groups, movements or
individuals is not in any way a linear process but extremely undulating and
fully given to curvature, and that within them, the witch hunts, inquisitions,
and Kingdom of Christ are as real as the reforms, the counter-reforms and the Second
Vatican Councils.

Of course, the example is especially relevant to show that the context in which these groups
operate also changes, for better or for worse, pressing the minorities that
comprise it one way or the other. The tension over the Jehovah’s Witnesses,
which became extreme, illustrates the relationship between the State and
Religion in Cuba in general. Indeed, this religious group was registered as a
Religious Organization before 1959 and is still waiting to be reinstated, which
has not yet occurred despite all the tolerance, or the government turning a
blind eye. Review any official Cuban text referring to religion between 1961
and 1992 [3] and you will find predominantly derogatory language, but on the
other hand, analyze any text after 1992 and you will find an atmosphere of
tolerance and in many cases, elegies of dialogue and inclusion [4]. An example
which serves to reveal this is an article in Granma of 1977 with
straightforward text set against the 1962 prologue of the first revolutionary
publication of the Tolstoy s Anna Karenina, a gift of the National Press with
an edition of 50,000 copies.  The notes on Tolstoy fulfilled the role, while presenting the novel, of making the
necessary warning: that Tolstoy preached “one of the nastiest things that
exists under the sun, namely, religion” [5].  Besides that, inexplicably the author says
nothing about the insertion within his few paragraphs of his wounding phrases
that are not identified as being from outside the text, or even identified with
a single quotation mark, as if proceeding from Lenin himself. [6].

The article in Granma, on the other hand, followed the visit to Cuba by Cardinal Tarcisio
Bertone, the Secretary of State of the Vatican and a close collaborator of Pope
Benedict XVI, and makes statements that are so different from the preface to
Anna Karenina, such as that ‘one of the peculiarities of our culture is that
Christian ethics are present from the time of our founding.’  It makes flattering reference to the
inclusion of the invocation of God in the first Constituent Assembly which was
not opposed even by Manuel Sanguily, an opponent of the scholastic Catholicism
of that time, but not of the belief in a supreme being, and it encourages the
inclusion of his name in the Constitution. It even mentions that in the history
of ideas ‘there has been no Cuban antagonism between science and religion’,
something that unfortunately and in fact is not true, especially if we review
the treatment of these ideas between 1961 and 1992. But even more in contrast
with all the language of that era, is the statement worthy of inclusion in any
textbook of theology of religions, the interesting observation that all belief
systems have been conceived, without excluding the theologies of glory or the
theologies, of the cross: ‘all religions are founded on the need for ethics.
Believers may say that ethical principles are a command of God, and if so, the
Almighty was based on the care of men morally and ethically.  There has been no civilization without
religion because there was no civilization without ethics.’ This is undoubtedly
a blatant contrast with the aforementioned quote that religion is ‘one of the
nastiest things that exists under sun!

In any case- which theological expression can be described as a positive way of living and
feeling the Christian faith, and which as negative and spurious? The theology
of glory or the theology of the cross? And what is the glory and what is the
cross in the way of exercising faith in the Cuba of today?

To take sides we should take into account that it is not so easy to classify a group, movement
or individual as a representative of one of these two theological positions,
without forgetting the pendulum that moves between them. Some appear to be more
ideologically inclined to one of the two trends, but in practice it turns out
that this is just an appearance, and in reality, they are exponents of the
other. Some people use a sacrificial phraseology but in living they show that
they are acting for the glory making interests. It is not as simple as checking
a catechism or doctrinal statement of faith and basing a decision upon
that.  It is in the way that ideas are materialized, which in biblical language is called the works and fruits, which
really shows if you’re seeking glory or carrying a cross-the saying of Jesus
‘by their fruits you shall know them’ [8] is  perfectly applicable. Care should be taken with vocabularies! But lots
and lots of care to the social footprints we laeve!  On the other hand we must bear in mind that
these are complex subjects with elements of glory but also with elements of the
cross, and in this yin and yang it is impossible to find a pure state that
would permit us to say, this one is one hundred percent cross and that one hundred
percent glory.

However, even assuming you could decant certain collective or individual subjects from their
complex socio-psychological-political scaffolding , we should be careful not to
fall into a hasty or unnecessary classification. And it is not possible to
avoid the danger of vocabulary- the attractiveness of glory and the
repulsiveness of the cross. Paradise sounds so comfortable  and therefore we could easily fall into the
temptation of relating it to fortune, positivity, optimism, altruism and
triumph. On the other hand the cross, in a similarly superficial way, could
easily be associated with pessimism and negativity. To vote for paradise could
connect us with the innate sense of wellbeing that every living being is
endowed with, and which serves as the underlying basis of all development.
Choosing the cross could link us to the unpleasant, pathetic, and even
masochist way of living. That an individual, movement or group would be moved
to emigrate to Manhattan may be a rare phenomenon in itself, but those who are
moved to the leper colonies of India or the slums of Brazil create a scandal.
And what is the true success? Is it the group that has established a lavish
cathedral in the mall of the world, or the one that has started a single store to
meet the spiritual and physical needs in
one of the increasingly numerous camps for displaced people in the

In Cuba today, perhaps the biggest challenge, given the policy changes the regime has taken
since its change in strategy in 1992, from naked persecution and repression
to  manipulation and blackmail, might be to forego the glory of the institutional benefits (which correspond to rights
in a state with laws)and to take up the cross, foregoing  inclusion in the canonical list of the Registry
of State Associations of the Ministry of Justice; or even though a hereditary
member of that list since 1959, to comply with the penalties of not receiving
exit permits, or to get visas for religious brethren in other latitudes, or to
receive permission for construction or reconstruction of temples and other
religious buildings, or buying cars or even a phone connection, let alone
internet access or email. Carrying the cross is to expose oneself to defamatory
campaigns, to surveillance and to constant harassment, threats and arrests, and
all for not keeping quiet, for prioritizing the search for the Kingdom of
Heaven and God s righteousness, which is logically identified with human
rights, and not passively accepting the status quo of Herod in power.

All this is not to build a Mendeleevian  periodic table
to classify this or that group or sect, continuing the already long history of
struggles waged since James and John tried to call down fire from heaven to
consume the Samaritans [9]. Neither should terms like cross and glory become
another category added to the already crowded banquet of dichotomies, good or
bad, black or white, revolutionary or counterrevolutionary, fatherland or
death. Rather, it is to review, before our denominational name or surname, that
which I can do here and now, this already and the other not yet, to act like
Jesus in a system in languishing decline like that of Cuba. Knowing that every
cross brings the resurrection, but not becoming involved with the one without
the other, because the biblical math is that ‘he who humbles himself shall be
exalted and the exalted shall be humbled’ [10].

Already in the First Century Saint Paul had the merit to assert: ‘Let the same mind be in you
which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not regard
equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form
of a servant in the likeness of men: And being in human form he humbled himself
and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross’ [11].  It is an undeserved honor for any Cuban
believer, that instead of playing games with a regime that has been acting
duplicitously since 1992, to represent Jesus taking on the pain of his people
while pointing his finger at the dictator.

Mario F lix Lleonart Barroso Pastor of Baptist churches in the communities of Rosalia
and Taguayab n>>Professor of New Testament at the Baptist Theological
Seminary Luis Manuel Gonz lez Pe a

Graduate in Information Science from the University of
Havana, and a Master of Divinity by the New Pines Evangelical Seminary and the
Latin American Faculty of Theological Studies (FLET, now Laurel University).

Despite being an active pastor recognized by the Baptist
Convention of Western Cuba, alrady in this year of 2011 the regime has gone so
far as to arbitrarily arrest him on two occasions: on 23 February for raising
his voice in favor of two women (Jeanne Oquendo and Lilia Casta er) who were
forced to get in a car in his presence, and Sunday June 26, to prevent him from
participating in a religious service in the Santa Clara United Methodist Church
whose pastor Alberto Yordi Toranzo was being expelled, by Bishop Ricardo
Pereira Diaz, bowing to government pressure.

His prophetic message to the government is found on his
personal blog
and twitter @ maritovoz


>[1] Havana: Social Sciences, 2006, pp. 43-44.

>[2] La Habana: Editora Cultura Popular, 1977.

>[3] Year in which the atheist character of the Cuban
Constitution was changed to secular.

>[4] It is not surprising therefore to find press
releases issued by church hierarchies and the media published in Granma,
especially the Catholic Bishops Conference of Cuba, unthinkable before 1992. An
example is the note published in the wake of elections to the National Assembly
of Popular Power for the January 20, 2008 and published on page 2 of the Granma
on Tuesday February 26.

>[5] Anonymous. Some notes on Leo Tolstoy and
“Anna Karenina” In: Tolstoy, Leo. Ana Karenina. – Havana: Imprenta
Nacional, 1962. – Volume I, unpaginated.

>[6] Lenin, V. I. Leo Tolstoy, the Russian revolution
mirrors .- In:

>About Religion: A collection of articles .- Progress

>Moscow, 1973 .- p. 14-15 [7] Hart D valos, Armando.
“Being educated is

>the only way to be free.” – In: Granma. Friday
March 14, 2008, p. 2 [8]

>Matthew 7.16 [9] Luke 9.54 [10] Matthew 23.12 [11]
Philippians 2.5-8