Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Your Christianity is My "Voodoo"

An excerpt from my book The Literary Construction of the Other in the Acts of the Apostles: ~ In the Wake of the First Anniversary of the Earthquake in Haiti ~ Smile4Haiti

In the midst of the devastation and unimaginable suffering of the Haitian people exacerbated by the recent earthquake, too many religious leaders chose to interpret the event in the framework of a self-serving theodicy. Christian pontifications that the practice of voodoo religion among Haitians is derivatively demonic and constitutes devil worship functioned to construct the Haitians as the external Others in need of salvation. Some religious leaders concluded that the Haitians brought this destruction on themselves; that God was punishing the Haitians because of their so-called practice of witchcraft, magic, and voodoo. Haitian men, women, and children sang and testified of God’s goodness while trapped under the rubble. They praised God because they escaped death’s grip; they sang even though their mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters died before their eyes. They sang God’s praises when the sky was the only roof over their heads and when hope alone cradled their grief and succored their hunger. Yet, some Christian leaders persisted in using this catastrophe as an opportunity to distinguish between themselves and the Other. Such leaders would proclaim that their own misfortune is primarily because the devil is after them.  But Others’ misfortunes is because they are the devil or children of the devil.

8 comments:

steve said...

This reaction is usually what occurs when one group designates themselves as "God's children." Once that happens a determined effort is made to identify the "other" who can be categorized as the lost, or children of the devil, or savages, pagan, etc... It is unfortunate that christians fail to realize that all humans are children of God... Until that realization occurs, christianity and christians will do harm instead of providing healing...

WomanistNTProf said...

Thank you Steve. Soo soo true.

Naomi S. Jacobs said...

Ironically, in terms of origins, Voodoo is based in part upon Christianity and may be understood alongside
the general tendency of Christianity to merge with
indigenous culture. The magical aspects of Voodoo are in keeping with human practices of time immemorial,
some of which are quite evident in certain mainstream Christian movements as well.

WomanistNTProf said...

Thank you Naomi for your insights. Agree. The one who is most like is most problematic or dangerous!

PamBG said...

Do you know the work of the anthropologist Rene Girard? This was a very Girardian comment and his is one of the "lenses" I use when interpreting Scripture.

WomanistNTProf said...

Hi Pam, I am somewhat familiar with Rene Girard's concept of violence and the idea of the scapegoat in the OT--I've read some of his book Violence and the Sacred. In my book I use J.Z. Smith's, Kapuscinsky's, et al. theory of otherness.

Anonymous said...

Yea, those who claim to be God's children are only giving thier own self serving opinions of themselves. Just as thier own next door neighbor may totally disagree with them. They may believe the opposiste, that those very people who think and want every one to believe that they are somehow more loved by God, that when they encounter trials and tribulation, death, harm or whatever may happen to them it is because they are devils.

WomanistNTProf said...

True "Anonymous". Thank you for your comment.