I've been involved in a range of different social
movements since I was 14. My parish was very much involved
in projects for social and economic transformation. And I've been
passionate for the Bible, and particularly the kind of reading that
groups in Latin America were doing.
This is a "popular" reading of the Bible, with groups in
communities. "Popular" here means politically engaged, in
order to transform unjust structures of the society and us.
Currently I am very much involved with Via Campesina Internacional
and contextual Bible-reading initiatives in the world, supporting
groups in South Africa, Sweden, Holland, Guatemala, Brazil, and
Mozambique. And I am part of a larger project, called the Global
Network on Contextual Bible Reading, based in the Netherlands. I am
also working with capacity- building on development projects, and
feminist hermeneutics and theology.
I teach New Testament and contextual Bible
reading, and I also work for Anglican Alliance, as
regional facilitator for Latin America and the Caribbean. I
collaborate with the National Office for Health of the Landless
People's Movement. As regional facilitator (Latin America and the
Caribbean), I facilitate communications among the Anglican
provinces, help them as a theologian when required, and work
together with my other colleagues in London, Bangladesh, Kenya, and
the Solomon Islands in the Anglican Alliance developing
I was born in 1969, during the dictatorship
period of my country, from 1964 to 1985. I saw horrible things
happening to people. I was born in a middle-class family with no
connections with religion or social movements. I was very shy as a
child, with almost no social life at all. When I got connected with
church groups as a teenager, I got myself involved in the dangerous
place that was to ask questions about inequality, violence, why
people "disappeared". I remember reading Brasil: Nunca
Mais, a shocking and disturbing moment. [Brazil: Never
More, eventually published in 1986, detailed 1800 incidents of
torture.] I was somehow connected with those who suffered a lot
during the military period.
I decided to be a theologian, to help people to
read the Bible in a way that brings liberation and consciousness of
the love of God. I moved from nuclear physics to philosophy and
theology. My parents were not happy about that.
Biblical stories and, most important, the way we got
into them helped shape my commitment and my militancy.
When I was very young, to speak in public was a
tremendous task. I was very, very, very shy. I couldn´t do
it. I promised that never in my life I would go public again. . .
This promise I did not keep. Being part of a youth group helped me
to overcome it. And I think I do well in public nowadays.
I cannot say why I got more focused on women's
issues. I had plenty of them influencing me, and I used to
say that my feminist colleagues, especially the feminist
theologians and feminist Bible scholars, saved my theology and
myself from becoming sterile and geeky. I always worked closely
with the most vulnerable communities, and living and sharing with
those women gave me the perspective I have. I found that being a
feminist was - is - a good way to be a Christian and to fulfil
God's will. Feminist theology is actually what theology must
Feminism is not about only women. Being
feminist is something that connects all of us, me as man, also
oppressed by the same patriarchal systems that undermine and kill
women in the world. Feminism is about changing the system; it is a
I think the increased media interest in violence against
women is because there is an acknowledgement this is no
longer something happening to "others". Real people are
Also, the reality of violence against women cannot be
invisible anymore. Society and Churches are aware of the
importance of upholding life-giving values for Christians. Also,
there are lots of networks working to overcome all kinds of
My work involves lots of travel, workshops, and
meeting different people. Here in Brazil with the Episcopal Church,
I am very connected to SADD [the Anglican Service for Diaconia and
Development]. Also, I have connections with Christian Aid.
I was also very involved during more than eight
years to get the discussion, building, and implementing of
the National Public Policy on Health for Forest and Rural people in
Travel, and the possibility to meet new people and
places, gives me most joy. But I must say that, for the
past 12 years, I have been blessed to live in a large community
composed of couples and singles in Brasilia. Two boys were born in
our community, and it is for me a huge joy to be part of their
education and growing up.
I really would like to learn two or three languages
more, and have the opportunity to work in a francophone
country. And have more connections with the Eastern part of the
world. And keep my agenda filled with service to others.
I have Japanese and Italian blood in my family,
but I like to say I am very, very Brazilian, mixed or "half blood".
I was born in a huge metropolis, São Paulo. Today, more than 20
million people live there. From when I was seven, we started to
move around, and I lived in nine different cities. When I turned
ten, I got more brothers and one sister: my youngest siblings are
I consider myself very cosmopolitan. I can
adapt quickly to places and people. Of course, I love my immediate
family, and they are a very important part of my life. But, to be
honest, I found the reality of extended family more important. I
left my parents' home when I was 16 to live with colleagues. I like
to live with others, and I can bear testimony that community is
possible and it is a good way of living: sharing spaces, resources
- including money, friendship, happiness, sadness. I like to be a
parable of the Kingdom of God.
I wanted to be a dentist at first, but the
first time I saw blood I was sick. Then I decided I would be an
intellectual: I would use my skills and my privileged position as a
white, geeky, middle-class man to serve as an agent of
transformation, to stand with and among those who were suffering. I
grew up surrounded by books. My home had a huge room with lots of
books, and I read almost all of them. From the age of eight to 12 I
was the person who read most books at the public library.
My most important choice was to become a theologian and
Bible scholar. To my family, this was not a career; so I
did not have their support. Another important choice was to become
a Benedictine monk connected to an ecumenical monastery here in
Brazil. I am no longer officially connected, because the community
closed, but I still keep that as my way to live.
My favourite places are quiet ones. But if I
have to pick up one to bein right now it would be Greece.
Waterfalls are my favourite sound.
Favourite books: all of Tolkien's, and Isabel
Allende, but especially Afrodite. The Song of Solomon
8.6-7. My least favourite part of the Bible is 1 Timothy
I don't get angry often. I've learned to be in
control. But I got angry during the general synod of my Church here
in Brazil regarding stupid and uninformed comments on sexuality
issues by some priests.
I'm happiest when I am with Gael, now eight
years old. Gael lived with us for seven years. He was born and grew
up in our community, and I could participate deeply in his
education and care.
I pray for peace and reconciliation. I pray for
strength and a good spirit to continue my own conversion process.
And I pray to be faithful to my ideo-theology, and that my speech,
action, and thoughts be coherent.
So many people have influenced my life. Two in
particular: Elaine Neuenfeldt, a Lutheran feminist Bible scholar, a
close friend who works now in Geneva; and Marcelo Barros, a
well-known writer and theologian here, a good friend, and a
Benedictine monk. I'd like to be locked in a church with them.
Professor Ueti was talking to Terence Handley