Luis D. León's compelling, innovative exploration of religion in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands issues a fundamental challenge to current scholarship in the field and recharts the landscape of Chicano faith. La Llorona's Children constructs genealogies of the major traditions spanning Mexico City, East Los Angeles, and the southwestern United States: Guadalupe devotion, curanderismo, espiritualismo, and evangelical/ Pentecostal traditions. León theorizes a religious poetics that functions as an effective and subversive survival tactic akin to crossing the U.S.-Mexican border. He claims that, when examined in terms of broad categorical religious forms and intentions, these traditions are remarkably alike and resonate religious ideas and practices developed in the ancient Mesoamerican world.
León proposes what he calls a borderlands reading of La Virgen de Guadalupe as a transgressive, border-crossing goddess in her own right, a mestiza deity who displaces Jesus and God for believers on both sides of the border. His energetic discussion of curanderismo shows how this indigenous religious practice links cognition and sensation in a fresh and powerful technology of the body—one where sensual, erotic, and sexualized ways of knowing emphasize personal and communal healing. La Llorona’s Children ends with a fascinating study of the rich and complex world of Chicano/a Pentecostalism in Los Angeles, a tradition that León maintains allows Chicano men to reimagine their bodies into a unified social body through ritual performance. Throughout the narrative, the connections among sacred spaces, saints, healers, writers, ideas, and movements are woven with skill, inspiration, and insight.