Friday, August 23, 2013

Revolutionary Clergy by John Schumacher, S.J.

Originally posted at Goodreads

John Schumacher, S.J. is an amazing academician and that is giving respect to where it is due. He had written 180+ books and articles (and is still continuing to do so at this review's writing), all considerably well-researched. Ironically however, I must write down that the reason by which he can be considered a successful researcher is also the reason by which his writings (most prevalent, concerning those of nationalism) must be greatly challenged if not expounded and more thoroughly (as it is well researched as it stands) researched upon. However, before expounding on the reason for giving only three stars on John Schumacher's works, I still suggest one to read his works as they provide a distinctive perspective and approach upon the topics he has grazed.

John Schumacher offers us a different perspective on the development of nationalism. He presents the standpoint of the friars, and the clergymen present in every facet of the colonial regime. His excellent academic and scholastic training merits him an effective researcher. To such end, his works have been great historical researches, founded upon documents of great importance.

Schumacher’s works, however, can only be credited as far as merit for use of sources go (my standpoint as a scholar). His works clearly provide us with a perspective but in so much that it is examined as an objective work, it fails to impress for precisely the same reason, that he is first and foremost a man of the Church.

If he is credited well in his voluminous works and use of sources in his studies, it is apparent that his authorial bias induced that parts of contrary evidences and repudiating circumstances were left out to fit in his defense for the clergy.

(One example of the manner by which Schumacher is blatantly guilty of my claims is when he repetitively asserts his argument that Jose Rizal derived his nationalistic bearings and was greatly influenced by Father Burgos though the evidence he presents to support this claim is nothing but an indirect connection between Rizal and Burgos and nothing else was presented further. This indirect connection was between Rizal and Paciano who is Burgos' nephew, who also helped him enter Ateneo Munipal, but as i stressed, no other personal and direct connection between Rizal and Burgos was presented).

This bias in research can actually be summarized in the fact that his nationalistic ideas are modernist in nature. By this consideration, never did Schumacher really give any significance in the pre-Spanish era of Filipino culture and history that post-colonial studies actually call for.

There is this fundamental conflict within his ideas that ultimately fails to impress but in effect exposes the evident bias with the friar orders. I am led to question for what reasons were such researches done. Was it in light of clarifying matters and the genuinely love for knowledge or was it in the end aimed to defend the positions the men of the faith took those pressing times? He presents a well-researched historical inquiry that is founded on the role of the clergy that in the end, demerits his claims at worst, and at best, contaminates his ideas and conclusions. The fundamental conflicts in his arguments demerit it so some extent but more importantly it exposes his attempt to wipe clean the slate of the friar orders and is a clear representation of his authorial bias.

Researchers could very well consult his works as it does provide a significantly different perspective, and it was exceptional at doing that. By doing so, one can supplement and avoid the very dilemma we consequentially aim to address, a limited and bias understanding of things. As it stands, it will provide an excellent perspective of Filipino nationalism from the eyes of the clergy.

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