Rubem Alves

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Rubem Azevedo Alves
Born (1933-09-15)15 September 1933
Boa Esperança, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Died 19 July 2014(2014-07-19) (aged 80)
Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil
Language English, Portuguese
Nationality Brazilian
Citizenship Brazilian

Rubem Azevedo Alves (15 September 1933 – 19 July 2014) was a Brazilian theologian, philosopher, educator, writer and psychoanalyst.[1] Alves was one of the founders of liberation theology.[2][3][4]


Alves was born on September 15th, 1933 in Boa Esperança, Minas Gerais.[5] He obtained his Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.) degree at the Presbyterian Seminary in Campinas, Brazil, in 1957.[5] He went on to obtain a Master of Theology (Th.M.) from the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, United States, in 1964.

After completing this degree, Alves returned to Brazil amidst a U.S-sponsored[6][7] military coup against the democratically elected Brazilian government. At the time, the new military regime was attempting to purge Brazil of communist sympathizers. The Presbyterian Church of Brazil provided the new government with the names of six intellectuals to serve as scapegoats and to avert persecution themselves. Immediately upon his return to Brazil, Alves went into hiding.[5] More than forty accusations were made against Alves and others, including claims that they taught that Jesus was sexually involved with a prostitute, celebrated when their children denounced Americans, and were funded by the Soviet Union. Alves reports that these accusations were ineffective, saying, "the positive side of the document was that it was so virulent, that not even the most obtuse could believe that we were guilty of so many crimes." Alves continued to elude government authorities and within two months of his arrival in Brazil, he returned to the United States covertly with assistance from Brazilian Freemasons and the Presbyterian Church in the United States, which secured an invitation from Princeton Theological Seminary for him to commence doctoral studies there.[5]

Alves did not enjoy his studies at Princeton. He sorely missed his homeland. He also felt constrained by the requirements of the doctoral program. Although he ultimately wrote his dissertation according their requirements, Alves was not pleased with it, saying, "I wrote uglily, without smiles or poetry, for there was no other alternative: a Brazilian student, underdeveloped, in a foreign institution, must indeed submit himself, if he wants to pass." He completed his doctoral dissertation, "Toward a Theology of Liberation", in 1968, and received “the lowest possible grade” needed to receive his doctorate (Ph.D.) at Princeton in 1968.[5]

Alves later critiqued the direction some writers took liberation theology, saying "it has little to say about the personal dimension of life. If a father or mother comes with their dead child, it’s no consolation to say, ‘In the future just society there will be no more deaths of this kind.’ This brings no comfort!" However, he also described liberation theology as "absolutely essential," describing his own version of liberation theology with these words: "The origin of my liberation theology is an erotic exuberance for life. We need to struggle to restore its erotic exuberance, to share this with the whole world."[5]

Academic career[edit]

  1. Alves trained as a psychoanalyst through the Brazilian Association of Psychoanalysis of São Paulo.
  2. Assistant professor of Social Philosophy, in the Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters of Rio Claro (1969)
  3. Assistant professor of Philosophy, State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) (1974). He was promoted to professor (1979) and associate professor (1980), both at Faculty of Education, UNICAMP.

Career as writer[edit]

Besides his activities as a university professor and researcher, Alves is a prolific writer of books and articles in journals and newspapers on education, psychology and life in general. Since 1986, he has been a regular columnist at the Correio Popular, the main newspaper in his hometown, Campinas, in São Paulo state. He has published more than 40 books, several of which have been translated into German, French, English, Italian, Spanish and Romanian. He is also a very popular lecturer and is much appreciated by educators in general for his humanistic views on education.[citation needed]

During his career, he collaborated with notable personalities include Peter Maurin, Dorothy Day, and Paulo Freire.[8]

His book, The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet, is an important text in the field of theopoetics.[9]

During the last years of his life, Alves wrote several childrens' books.[5] Alves died on Saturday, July 19, 2014 in Campinas, Brazil.[8]


Alves has been described as an "unsung hero",[5] and is often omitted from brief descriptions of liberation theology.[citation needed]



  • A Theological Interpretation of the Meaning of the Revolution in Brasil. A thesis presented to the Union Theological Seminary. USA
  • A Theology of Human Hope. Washington: Corpus Books. 246p Doctorate thesis, original title: Towards a Theology of Liberation
  • Tomorrow's Child. Imagination, Creativity and the Rebirth of Culture. New York: Harper and Row Publishers.
  • What is Religion?, Orbis Books, New York
  • I believe in the Resurrection of the Body. Philadelphia Fortress Press
  • Teologia della Speranza umana. Brescia: Queriniana Editrice. 246p.
  • Christianisme, Opium o Liberation? Une Theologie de L'Espoir Humain. Paris.
  • Il Figlio del Domani. Brescia: Queriniana Editrice. 207p.
  • Hijos DeI Mañana. Salamanca: Edições Sígueme: 231p.
  • El Enigma de la Religion. Buenos Aires: Edições la Aurora. Translation: Raúl Lopez. 269p.
  • L'Enigma della Religione. Roma: Edizione Borla 192p.
  • Was ist Religion? Zürich: Pendo-Verlag
  • Protestantism and Repression: A Brazilian case study. New York: Orbis Books. 215p.
  • Protestantism and Repression. London: SCM Press. 215p.
  • Ich glaube an die Auferstehung des Leibes. Meditationen. Düsseldorf: Patmos Verlang. 79p.
  • Je Crois en la Résurrection du Corps. Méditation. Paris: Lês Édition du Cerf. 85p.
  • La Teologia como Juego. Buenos Aires. Ediciones la Aurora. 143p.
  • Vater Unser. Mediationen. Düsseldorf: Translated by Horst Goldstein. 144p.
  • The Poet, the Warrior, the Prophet. Philadelphia: Trinity Press Internacional. London: SCM Press. 148p.
  • Le Mangeur de Paroles. Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf. 203p.
  • Parole da Mangiare. Comunitá di Bose. Magnano: Edizione Qiqajon. Itália, 199p.
  • Cartea cuvintelor bune de mâncat sau bucǎtǎria ca parabolǎ teologicǎ. Sibiu: Editura Deisis. Trad. Virginia Gálea. 191p.
  • La Alegria de Enseñar. Barcelona: Ediciones Octaedro. 95p.
  • The Best Chronicles of Rubem Alves (translation of As Melhores Crônicas de Rubem Alves). Hanover, CT: New London Librarium. 182p. ISBN 978-0996674782
  • Tender Returns (translation of Retorno e Terno). Hanover, CT: New London Librarium. 212p. ISBN 978-0998273068

In Portuguese[edit]

  • Escola com que sempre sonhei sem imaginar que pudesse existir. Editora Papirus. 2002. 120p.
  • A Gestação do Futuro. Campinas: Editora Papirus. Tradução: João Francisco Duarte Junior. 199p.
  • O Enigma da Religião. Petrópolis: Editora Vozes. 169p.
  • Filosofia da Ciência. Introdução ao jogo e suas regras. São Paulo: Editora Brasiliense. 190p.
  • O que é Religião? São Paulo: Brasiliense/Abril Cultural. 133 p.
  • Protestantismo e Repressão. São Paulo: Editora Ática. 290p.
  • Dogmatismo e Tolerância. São Paulo: PAULUS. 172p.
  • Creio na Ressurreição do corpo. Meditações. Rio de Janeiro. Cedi 73p.
  • Variações sobre a Vida e Morte. A Teologia e sua Fala. São Paulo: PAULUS. 213p.
  • Gandhi. São Paulo: Editora Brasiliense. 119p.
  • Poesia, Profecia e Magia. Rio de Janeiro. CEDI. 80p.
  • Conversas Com Quem Gosta de Ensinar. São Paulo: Cortez/Autores Associados. 87p.
  • Estórias de Quem Gosta de Ensinar. São Paulo: Cortez/Autores Associados. 108p.
  • O Suspiro dos Oprimidos. São Paulo: PAULUS. 119p.
  • Pai Nosso. São Paulo: PAULUS. 146p.
  • Tempus Fugit. São Paulo: PAULUS. 109p.
  • O Poeta, o Guerreiro e o Profeta. Petrópolis: Editora Vozes. 143p.
  • Lições de Feitiçaria. Vol I. São Paulo: Ars Poética- 100p.
  • O Retorno Eterno. Campinas: Papirus. 169p. O retorno eterno. Campinas: Papirus. 169p.
  • Teologia do Cotidiano. São Paulo: Olho D'Água. 95p.
  • A Alegria de Ensinar. São Paulo: Ars Poética/Petah. 103p.
  • O Quarto do Mistério. Campinas: Speculum/Papirus. 224p.
  • Sobre o Tempo e a Eterna Idade. Campinas: Speculum/Papirus. 164p.
  • A Festa de Maria. Campinas: Papirus/Speculum. 111p.
  • As Contas de Vidro e o Fio de Nylon. São Paulo: Ars Poética. 109p.
  • Cenas da Vida. Campinas: Papirus/Speculum. 128p.
  • Navegando. São Paulo: Ars Poética. 103p.
  • Concerto para Corpo e Alma. Campinas: Papirus. 160p.
  • E Aí? Cartas aos Adolescentes e a Seus Pais. Campinas: Papirus.
  • Entre a Ciência e a Sapiência: o Dilema da Educação. São Paulo: Loyola. 148p.
  • O Amor que Acende a Lua. Campinas: Papirus/Speculum. 214p.
  • Por uma Educação Romântica: Brevíssimos Exercícios de Imortalidade. Vila Nova de Famalicão: Centro de Formação Camilo Castelo Branco. Portugal. 261 pp.


  1. ^ "Brazilian writer Rubem Alves dies". SBS News. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  2. ^ Altmann, Walter (18 November 2009). "Liberation theology is still alive and well". Ekklesia. UK. Retrieved 23 January 2010. 
  3. ^ McGrath, Alister E (1995). The Blackwell encyclopedia of modern Christian thought. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 331. ISBN 0-631-19896-2. 
  4. ^ Linhares, Bruno J (2007). "Princeton Theological Seminary and the Birth of Liberation Theology". Koinonia. Princeton: Princeton Theological Seminary. 19: 85–105. ISSN 1047-1057. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Keefe-Perry, Callid (20 July 2014). "A Song for Rubem Alves". Homebrewed Christianity. Retrieved 13 May 2017. 
  6. ^ Kingstone, Steve (2004-04-01). "Brazil remembers 1964 coup d'etat". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  7. ^ "US Role in 1964 Brazilian Military Coup Revealed". Dominion. Archived from the original on 2013-07-01. Retrieved 2013-06-22. 
  8. ^ a b "Rubem Alves – Liberation Theology Pioneer". New York, NY: Critical Therapy Center. 19 July 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2017. 
  9. ^ Linhares Junior, Bruno Mattos (2008). "The Theopoetics of Rubem Alves for Pastoral Theology". Nevertheless I Am Continually With You: A Cosmopolitan and Theopoetic Reframing of Pastoral Theology (Ph.D. thesis). Princeton Theological Seminary. pp. 100–166. 

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