"I lived for more than thirty years in a huge garbage dump called Smokey Mountain in the heart of the city of Manila. . . . It was a journey through the heart of darkness, a pilgrimage through the crucible of despair to emerge into joyful hope in the end."
- Benigan P. Beltran
Smokey Mountain, a vast garbage dump in Manila, the Philippines, served for many years as an emblem of third world squalor. In many ways, it is a metaphor for a planet slowly choking on garbage and waste. But for Fr. Beltran, who served for three decades as chaplain to the 25,000 scavengers who survive off this reeking heap, it is also a metaphor of hope—an emblem of the will to survive, the ability to create joy and find meaning even in the midst of abject poverty.
Faith and Struggle on Smokey Mountain describes the spiritual resilience of struggling peoples and how, through their eyes, Beltran learned to read the Gospel anew. The lessons he learned bear a message for all who struggle for a better world.
Table of contents:
1. God as Cloud of Unknowing
2. God of the Poor and the Oppressed
3. God as Fearsome and Alluring Mystery
4. God as Lord of History
5. God as Consuming Fire
Benigno P. Beltran
Benigno P. Beltran is a Society of the Divine Word priest from the Philippines. He received a doctorate from the Gregorian University in Rome before becoming chaplain to the scavengers of Smokey Mountain. He has received many international awards for his work in community development projects.
Benigno Beltran tells a story of people betrayed and abandoned by modern society, of a wondrous planet being destroyed by greed and excess, and of a God of mystery and `consuming fire who is discovered amidst the desolation. This is a passionate, honest, and inspiring book-an indictment of us all for the world we have created, and an urgent call to justice and to hope.
-Tina Beattie, author, The New Atheists
A stunningly honest and transparent book of one mans courageous journey into the bloated belly of poverty and how the experience deeply enriched him and gave him a shimmering hope for a brighter world in which we all share in the beauty and bounty of creation.
-Gerard Thomas Straub, author, Hidden in the Rubble
Written with powerful eloquence, this book about the `jewels of the pauper amidst squalor and degradation, was shaped by the life of the author for 30 years with and among scavengers, who became companions in his inner pilgrimage, as well as in their common struggle for hope, justice, and social transformation.
-Christina A. Astorga, Visiting Scholar, Fordham University