The impactful voice in the dialogue between church and society is a distinctive feature of the Portuguese writer Tiago Cavaco, recognized both in Portugal and in Brazil. In this complex cultural exchange, the author boldly proposes ways for evangelicals to face contemporary challenges.
In his new book, entitled “Holidays of fornication and other murmurings of a moralist”, Cavaco brings together 50 articles originally written for the Portuguese newspaper Observador. The chronicle that opens and gives the title to the edition, “Férias de fornicação”, addresses how the rich and privileged Portuguese youth spend their parents’ money on the beaches of Alentejo. Thus, it is possible to understand the provocative tone and insightful reasoning explored by the pastor and journalist on topics such as morality, religion, politics and technology, always skillfully connected to the Christian faith.
In addition to leading the church of Lapa, in Lisbon, Tiago Cavaco is also a punk rock musician, composer, singer and co-founder of the music publishing company FlorCaveira. As an author, he published the books “Barbed wire in paradise” and “Crazy for discernment” for Mundo Cristo.
Tiago Cavaco is pastor of Igreja da Lapa, located in Lisbon, Portugal, and has a degree in Communication Sciences from Universidade Nova de Lisboa. In addition, he is a talented musician, composer and singer, having founded, together with Samuel Úria, the music publisher FlorCaveira. His books “Barbed wire in paradise” and “Crazy for discernment” were published by Mundo Cristiano.
Founded in 1965 in the city of São Paulo by the American missionary Peter Cunliffe, Editora Mundo Cristiano is recognized for publishing Bibles and books by national and foreign authors, covering various literary genres, always based on a Christian, historical and balanced theological posture. His works, in print and digital format, are distributed in Brazil and in Portuguese-speaking countries through bookstores, wholesalers, websites and churches. The publisher, of Brazilian origin and with a Protestant tradition, has no formal link with any specific Christian denomination. Committed to a rigorous Quality and Social Responsibility Policy, it was the first Brazilian publisher to receive the ISO 9001:2008 seal, which demonstrates its commitment to high quality standards and customer, employee and supplier satisfaction.
How would you describe the style and approach of your new book “Vacation of Fornication and Other Murmurs of a Moralist”?
The book collects more than fifty chronicles published in Observador, the largest Portuguese online newspaper. As the Observer’s readers are not a religious audience, when I address issues that may be about faith I try to do so with a healthy sense of provocation and humor.
What are the main themes explored in his work, and how does he relate them to the Christian faith?
Despite not previously choosing the topics for the chronicles, there are a few obsessions of mine that inevitably mark the texts: my love-hate relationship with Portugal, my country; my love-hate relationship with artists; and my tendency to gravitate between gratitude and murmuring. All the personal weaknesses that reside in these subjects that fascinate me can only be hopeful if we look at them with faith in Christ. Otherwise, it’s just me and my generally ill-disposed obsessions.
How does the book address the contradictions and tensions of contemporary life, and how does the author present his Christian vision in a confrontational way?
In the book I have addressed our tensions with an edge of mockery and an edge of love. Or rather: a loving mockery. On the one hand, we cannot deprive ourselves of the pleasure of laughing at the best jokes, which are those that we involuntarily provoke with our overconfidence. On the other hand, facing with love what is ridiculous in us is one of the most Christian things we can do.
What is the importance of the preface written by João Pereira Coutinho in the Brazilian edition of the book?
João Pereira Coutinho is an old friend. We met at the time of the advent of blogs in Portugal, at the beginning of the millennium. João is also one of the best voices that the Portuguese-speaking press has and, therefore, being able to have him as a preface was an immense honor. When a person whom you try to imitate in style and substance gives his own name to one of your books, that is an immense miracle!
In addition to being a writer, you’re also a pastor, musician, and co-founder of a music publishing company. How do these different areas of activity influence your writing and perspective addressed in the book?
I believe that my dedication to the word is, in fact, threefold: writing, preaching and singing. If, for example, I’ve always tried that the rock music I play doesn’t spoil anything in the sermon I preach, it’s also true that I can’t separate the fact that it’s the same when I step from the pulpit to the stage or onto the page. Ultimately, I hope that mixing these different dishes will bring a special flavor and not lose their flavors.
How do you connect the Christian experience with the challenges of our times, especially regarding morality, religion, politics and technology?
My Christian experience is not something I feel I need to connect with the challenges of this time; my faith is what makes me live them. In that sense, I don’t need to gain a Christian perspective on morals, religion, politics or technology. Without Christianity I don’t even know what morals, religion, politics or technology mean. The challenge for me is not so much to bring the Bible together with the world I see—without the Bible I don’t even see the world.
How can the book “Holidays of fornication and other murmurations of a moralist” impact Brazilian readers, awakening reflections and questions about contemporary society?
In the first place, I would say that Brazil probably doesn’t have that many openly moralistic murmurers in the press. To that extent, dealing with the book is dealing with a rare species. It is a species that retains some ability to complain about a world that is presumed to be so much better than in the past. If today we find ourselves so forward facing, maybe it’s not so bad to have someone who misses some things from the past. Of course, in saying this, I don’t claim to be nostalgic for a life I didn’t have. But, at the very least, my aim is to retain the dangerous freedom to make less of an over-self-esteeming era like ours.
As an author, you have other books published in Brazil by Mundo Cristiano publishing house. How does this work differ or complement your previous work?
As a collection of chronicles, this is a lighter work. It’s easier to pick up and read because in 5 minutes the person feels like they’ve already finished a few reading cycles, reading less. The previous book, “Arame Barpado no Paraíso” (Editora Mundo Cristiano), was more demanding because, with longer chapters, it demanded more dedication from the reader. This is the perfect book to get more satisfaction with less effort, as well as understand issues of religious life amid culture and politics in a more unique way.
In addition to your blog and column in the Observador newspaper, how have you been engaged in the discussion of the topics covered in your book?
I believe that the most effective way to get involved in the issues the book deals with is not so much in the press as in everyday life, but in the life of the community. As part of a Church, I know that it is in the common routine that we show that we really get involved with the subjects that are in our conversations. Speaking and writing is fundamental because, as Christians, we believe that the world is the creation of the divine word. At the same time, we know that the power of our words accompanies the people that God places around us, especially when far from the public pages that reach the crowd.
How do you believe that the book “Fornication vacations and other murmurations of a moralist” can contribute to the dialogue between the church and society, both in Portugal and in Brazil?
Readers don’t even have to agree with me when reading my moralistic mutterings. But if they manage to at least smile with some of them, it might lessen some of the prejudice and snap judgment that has been poisoning our diminishing ability to converse with those who disagree with us. This would already be a promising start!
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