What should be the focus of our discussions on this forum

Post Reply
User avatar
admin
Site Admin
Posts: 2152
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2014 7:03 pm

What should be the focus of our discussions on this forum

Post by admin » Sun Nov 14, 2004 6:44 pm

Overall, our discussions on this specific forum have been way too general. For instance, we often debate the existence of God and the value of Religion in human life, but we fail to write specifically about the influence of Vodou in Haitian affairs, secret societies like the sampwel, and mystic groups that are well entranched in Haiti like the franc-maçons and rosicruciens.

Like Jonas, Bouli, Leonel, and Jafrikayiti, I tend to take a very rational approach when it comes to such concepts as divine intervention in human affairs, the world's great religions, the afterlife, witchcraft and superstitions, spirits and saints, angels and demons, heaven and hell, etc, etc. But I hope that we all realize that there is virtually nothing that we can say here that is going to change anyone's predisposition to believe in a "God" that is revealed to them through whatever (mental, physiological, educational, historical, regional, geopolitical, and cultural) mechanisms or to practice the religion of their choosing. I have read somewhere that man's brain is wired (neurologically speaking) to believe in a Supreme Being, and I believe that assertion probably has a lot of merits.

Though I do not practice any of the organized religions, I do respect other people's rights to belong to them. I do believe that "the pursuit of happiness" is a fundamental human endeavor. A lot of people that I have met simply cannot disassociate their happiness from their spiritual beliefs. So be it. This does not mean that I reject skepticism or that we should not question religious practices that are often quite prejudicial to society. I am all for mental or historical deconstruction whenever it is warranted, but it is futile to think that it is in our power to do away with religions or with the infinitely varied ideas of divinity that are anchored in the psyches of our fellow hu
man beings.

What I intended for this forum in "Windows on Haiti" is for all of us to discuss not so much the nature of spirituality than the effects of spirituality on Haitian culture. In that sense, it really does not matter much whether or not we believe (individually). I think that we are ALL aware of the persistent belief in animism, Vodou, Christianity, among Haitians, concurrently with all sorts of practices that can be broadly categorized as superstitions, regardless of their origins (Western European / African / ... or rooted in the Bible / Catholicism / Vodou, or any other human experience across time and space). In Haiti particularly, such practices on occasion hamper our progress as a society, due to the frequent and near-total rejection of natural causes. We always seem to have mystical or supernatural explanations for deaths, diseases, good fortunes, misfortunes, etc. Those persistent beliefs and practices appear at times to be a serious obstacle to our human and economic development.

So, I beg of all of you, ladies and gentlemen, to be somewhat less "existential-theological-philosophical" in our discussions and to focus on the religious and superstitious practices in Haiti as they affect Haitian Life. I believe that this is a topic we all can learn A LOT about, if we address the issues, not from a dogmatic standpoint but, instead, in a descriptive manner. What role does spirituality play in our culture, not just yesterday but today as well? What are the cultural ways in which we manifest our open or secret beliefs? And what is their impact on our country?

Pauline Charles
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 2:11 pm

Post by Pauline Charles » Mon Nov 15, 2004 3:10 pm

I am a new contributor browsing and taking some times to read some of the posts. I noticed that Guysanto is asking to be less "existential-theological-philosophical". I also read the statistics on women in theology, empress's viewpoints, Marylin's personal experiences, Bouli's suggestions to women. I think we really need the abstracts, the philosophy, the data, the concrete experiences to continuously address the role of spirituality and religion in one's life.

I don't think Guysanto should limit the conversation around the Haitians' spiritual experience. Marilyn as a white woman gave a personal example where one can put religious men's behaviours in a more Western context. Haitian priests and pastors are not the only " womanizers". Bouli put religion in a global one. If women stop going to churches, stop contribuiting in those collections, can we imagine what will happen to christianity. If more women in Haiti or more Haitian women were reading, were in the internet, were conscious of what what christianity had done to the world, to Black folks, to the Indians, and to women in general, those priests wouldn't have those mistresses, illegitimate children, abuse children because of the trust women have in them; worse of all , those abusers go to Haiti and many poor countries , and will continue to sexually molest boys and girls, have illegitimate children without any worries.

Therefore, as a "just come", I think the forum on religion and spirituality can continue on different angles.

Pauline Charles

User avatar
admin
Site Admin
Posts: 2152
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2014 7:03 pm

Post by admin » Wed Nov 17, 2004 11:24 am

[quote]I don't think Guysanto should limit the conversation around the Haitians' spiritual experience.[/quote]
You are right. Curiously, many if not all of the examples you cited in your reply, are instances of discussions or bearing witness to the impact of faith and religion in our lives that I would like to encourage. I must not have expressed myself properly if I gave a different impression.

In any case, I was not trying to limit the discussion so much as I attempted to steer it to areas of more immediate import to Haitian spirituality. If I suggested that we be less "existential", I did not mean to imply that I was going to shut down anyone who wished to debate, let's say how many angels can dance on the end of a needle. I also used the term "philosophical" though clearly that was wrong, since we cannot help being "philosophical". That's the whole point of a forum. Do me a big favor, and try to discover the message that I wanted to convey as a whole (which I still think a valid one) in spite of my possible awkward formulation of it.

Do keep in mind that many among us come to the forum to get new insights not so much about what makes us Homo Sapiens but what makes us Haitian. As you may know, Haitian spiritual and religious practices are shrouded in a thick veil of mystery. The simplest questions do not get answered. It's always like "if you have to ask, it was not meant for you to know" or "if you want to understand, you have to abandon all pretense to rationality".

My intention, once again, is not to prevent a Jafrikayiti from exposing the underbelly of Christianity, not to prevent a Jonas from deconstructing the bases of faith and liturgy, not to prevent a Nekita from chronicling the religious aspects of community life in the Boston/Northeast area, not to prevent a Bouli from casting shadows on the supposed nobility of religious practice, not to prevent a Leonel from expressing skepticism about the existence of God, not to prevent a Marilyn from bearing witness to the impact of faith and practice on personal life, not to prevent any of you from contributing your views to this forum. It was simply a call to say, hey guys, I will be 777 years old before I learn something significant about the defining attributes of Haitian spirituality. There is "this thing", you see, called "Vodou" (I don't mean to offend) that they say that ALL Haitians believe in, though some spend all of their existence fighting it or denying it. Why are so many of us always disagreeing about or completely ignorant of what it really is. Is it a religion or not? If a religion, does it have an underbelly as well as that of Christianity which is often - and rightfully so - scrutinized on this forum, or is Vodou the purest of religions, the most authentic representation of our identities as Haitians or human beings?

And much more could be said about our superstitions (yes, they are numerous indeed), about our secret societies, about the influence of religion in Haiti on sexuality, on politics, on upbringing, and on the various isms that ail us as a nation. Yes, I do want to bring out "the Haitian" more in our discussions. It's not that I truly have any desire to limit the discussion of what is not specifically Haitian, but to enlarge it instead in a way that is more relevant to Haitians and Haiti.

Or should we keep it all (safely) between ourselves and the Unknown?

Post Reply