Sunday, September 12, 2021

Book Review: Abuelita Faith by Kat Armas

About the Book:

What if some of our greatest theologians wouldn't be considered theologians at all?

Kat Armas, a second-generation Cuban American, grew up on the outskirts of Miami's famed Little Havana neighborhood. Her earliest theological formation came from her grandmother, her abuelita, who fled Cuba during the height of political unrest and raised three children alone after her husband passed away. Combining personal storytelling with biblical reflection, Armas shows us how voices on the margins--those often dismissed, isolated, and oppressed because of their gender, socioeconomic status, or lack of education--have more to teach us about following God than we realize.

Abuelita Faith
tells the story of unnamed and overlooked theologians in society and in the Bible--mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters--whose survival, strength, resistance, and persistence teach us the true power of faith and love. The author's exploration of abuelita theology will help people of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds reflect on the abuelitas in their lives and ministries and on ways they can live out abuelita faith every day.


1. Research Grief
2. Abuelita Theology
3. A Sabiduría That Heals
4. Mujeres of Exodus
5. Telling La Verdad
6. Cosiendo and Creating
7. Sobreviviendo
8. Protesta and Persistence
9. Desesperación
10. A Divine Baile
11. Madre of Exile
12. Resolviendo in La Lucha

Read an excerpt from Abuelita Faith on the publisher's website.


My Thoughts:

The subtitle of Abuelita Faith: What Women on the Margins Teach Us about Wisdom, Persistence, and Strength drew me to this book by Kat Armas. The author calls attention to “Abuelitas” (female spiritual leaders who often remain unrecognized) as she recalls the narratives of Biblical people, historical figures, and modern-day leaders.

My favorite aspect of Abuelita Faith was Kat Armas’ examination of the women and their actions. While I enjoyed her fresh perspective on familiar Biblical women (Miriam, Ruth, Tamar, etc), I absolutely loved learning about the historical women (post-Biblical times) that I was previously unfamiliar with. I did not personally agree with all of the author’s points, but I found them interesting and worthy of reading and consideration. (i.e.: In my mind, J. Lo  & Shakira’s 2020 Super Bowl Halftime Performance does not equate to Miriam’s victory dance after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and saw the Egyptian army defeated.) 

Other things to consider about Abuelita Faith by Kat Armas:

While the book focused on theology and spiritual leadership by women (as expected from the title), I would have appreciated more connections between the spiritual lessons and the teachings of Jesus.  

Kat Armas’ love and admiration for her own abuelita shined in each chapter, but I found it difficult to relate to. Those (like me) who come from dysfunctional families may struggle to internalize the concept of one’s abuelita as someone to be looked up to. (Similar to the difficulty of believing in God as a good, good father when one has been abused or abandoned by his or her earthly father.)

Frequently in Abuelita Faith, Kat Armas underscored her topics and points with discussion on race and social justice. While the information was relevant and necessary, it sometimes overshadowed the women’s stories and actions.

The author lived several years as an enthusiastic, solidly conservative Evangelical. She speaks with credibility as she calls out previous racism and marginalization by the evangelical establishment. I consider her accusations fair, but the manner in which the author presents the grievances is likely to only cause defensiveness rather than change.  Exvangelicals and progressive Christians will likely embrace Abuelita Faith.

In conclusion, I found Abuelita Faith: What Women on the Margins Teach Us about Wisdom, Persistence, and Strength by Kat Armas educational and interesting. This work offered plenty of information and perspective to consider and appreciate. I did not enthusiastically agree with every thought and conclusion, but I found value in reading this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

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