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Something that bothered me about the coverage of Haiti.

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Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 02:51 PM
Original message
Something that bothered me about the coverage of Haiti.
So this morning, CNN reported on Haitians performing a Catholic Mass in the open air, cue usual platitudes about faith and hope, etcetera.

All well and good, but I find the complete lack of any mention of Vodou to be a form of white-washing. Vodou IS a major religion in Haiti. And it IS a religion, every bit as legitimate as Catholicism (and, due to the syncretization of the African lwa with Catholic saints, many Haitians are both and see no contradiction.)

Here's a very good interview with a practitioner about what Vodou is and isn't:

http://www.erzulies.com/site/articles/view/6


I understand why people who JUST DON'T GET IT might want to ignore "controversial" aspects of Haitian culture, but to me that just reinforces the idea that Vodou is something to be ashamed of, a "social problem," not a real and beautiful and complex religious faith that is VERY strongly rooted in the Haitian peoples' struggle and resistance. That's what Pat Robertson meant by the "deal with the devil" - during the Haitian revolution, the Haitian people had the audacity to pray to their OWN gods, not the slaveholders' god.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 03:00 PM
Response to Original message
1. I once asked a Haitian coworker
if he could pick only one thing about Voudoun to tell people, what it would be. He thought for a minute and said, "Whatever you put out into the world is what you're going to get back."

He was right. That was the one thing about it I needed to know.
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Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 03:02 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Beautifully said, thank you! n/t
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AwakeAtLast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 09:09 PM
Response to Reply #1
33. Well, then Rush Limbaugh has got a lot of crap coming his way!
One can only hope anyway.

;)
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snagglepuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 04:30 AM
Response to Reply #1
35. So what did the Haitians put out into the world that made them reap this diasaster?
Everything about karma is utterly drivel. The idea that people get what they put out into the world is simply a way that Hindus justified the caste system. It's ruthless. Very few people get back what they put out into the world -good or bad.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 10:20 AM
Response to Reply #35
36. It doesn't work that way and you know it
or you should if you throw words like "karma" around.
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Critters2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-20-10 02:04 PM
Response to Reply #35
38. +1 nt
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foxfeet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 03:08 PM
Response to Original message
3. Good post. Thanks.
I've been annoyed by the coverage as well. Even the discussions here at DU have tended to focus on the presence and activities of Christian missionaries as if Haitian people are somehow incapable of pursuing their own spiritual path, whatever that may be for the individual. (Unless I've missed something here.)
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Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 03:15 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Thanks, and you're welcome!
The Haitian people have always had their own paths. They don't need spiritual colonialism any more than any other kind. (Though of course many outside religious organizations are doing excellent charity/relief work in a material sense.) I find missionaries offensive on a deep level.
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foxfeet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 03:20 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. I harbor the same mistrust of missionaries.
Even though I acknowledge the benefit of concrete good works, proselytizing is among the highest forms of spiritual arrogance.
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Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 07:44 PM
Response to Reply #5
29. Arrogance indeed.
Edited on Sun Jan-17-10 07:47 PM by Withywindle
It's pretty hard to reconcile the idea that HUMILITY is a Christian ideal with the fact that most Christian interaction with other cultures (as well as just random nonbelievers, dissidents, and members of their own societies who had "heretical" ideas) has been: "You're wrong and we're right. Sit down at our feet submissively and listen to our 'good news,' or else we'll write you off and wipe you out--hey, it's for your own good, because if you don't profess that we're right and you're wrong, you'll be not just killed but tortured for all eternity. OUR GOD says so, and of course OUR GOD is the only real one."

:puke:
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niyad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 03:26 PM
Response to Original message
6. k and r--thank you for pointing this out --it was bothering me as well.
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hlthe2b Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 03:28 PM
Response to Original message
7. MSM press can't handle discussing Wicca nor manage to
discuss Islam without stereroyping... For them to discuss Voodou would not likely add to anyone's true knowledge and probably add to the stereotypes, which no one needs right now. Sad, but true. Our press just can not manage to educate the viewer, because to do so, they would have to educated THEMSELVES.
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Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 05:51 PM
Response to Reply #7
15. Yeah, very true.
And it's hardly the most important issue facing Haiti right now - I suppose I'd cringe even worse if they did discuss it.

I just wish the familiarity/comfort zone with religious diversity wasn't so pathetically narrow.
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Gregorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 05:00 PM
Response to Original message
8. I just had a vision of the Dalai Lama as a major news anchor.
Our media could use a dose of the Dalai. One of his main goals is harmony amongst religions.

They're all trying to better life on this planet. But no, simple minded people with BEAUTIFUL HAIR have to be in control of the most powerful instrument known to mankind. There's a hell for our media. I almost want to die quickly just to watch it.

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Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 06:45 PM
Response to Reply #8
23. Wouldn't that be great?
Even if not a celebrity, just some religious reporting that actually did some real research and didn't slander or patronize any faith--or atheists either.

One of the best jobs I ever had was a temp gig doing copy-editing and copy-writing for the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions - that's an organization that holds massive interfaith conferences in a different city/country every five years, kind of like the Olympics of religion - and the Dalai Lama has always been an enthusiastic participant. I'm so grateful to the people who organize and participate in events like that.

Religion is not going to go away. Ever. And I would be very sad to see a world that had only one religion--it would be like a world that only grew one crop and only had one kind of terrain and climate. Earth is healthiest in diversity, and its people are no different.
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Gregorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 06:58 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. There is only diversity.
Haha, the Olympics of religion.


I've often been frustrated by some physical thing, and wished I had unlimited strength. (This may have nothing to do with this discussion.) But then when I begin to expand thought on the subject, I realize that if I had unlimited strength, I would never know limits. I would not be able to tell when something was going to break. As a result, things would be a disaster. I would end up breaking things I did not intend to break.

I think there's a parallel in that if there were no diversity, then...something. I'm not sure what that is. I see what we consider to be god, and don't know if that's all diversity in one, or one without diversity. But nevertheless, what I'm getting at is that what some people wish they had, if they were to think about it, would be sorry if they had it.

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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 05:21 PM
Response to Original message
9. Vodou is simply an adaptation of West African religions to the Americas, and
it is practiced in the Spanish-speaking world as Santera. I forget what the Brazilian version is called, but it's similar.

If you are in a Latino neighborhood and see a sign that says "Botnica" with statues of saints in the shop window, that's a store selling supplies for practitioners of Santera.

The Africans kept their traditional gods and associated them with various Christian saints.
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Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 05:30 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. The Brazilian versions are Candombl, Macumba, or Umbanda.
I have Candombl practitioners in my family, on my mom's side in Bahia.

In many countries like Brazil, there are lots of relatively "white" descendants of the European colonists who have converted to the religions from Africa, even though the diasporic religions don't proselytize or pressure anyone.

This is threatening to some, for obvious reasons.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 06:09 PM
Response to Reply #10
18. The same is true of Santera
It has spread beyond the African-descended communities, especially in Puerto Rico and Cuba.
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Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 06:10 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. And in the US!
Lots and lots of converts here too.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 06:16 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. Yes, I think there was a feature article about it in the NY Times when I lived
on the East Coast in the late 1970s.
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Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 09:18 PM
Response to Reply #20
34. Yup. It's everywhere. I'm in Chicago and know a few people.
The full initiation route is a demanding path and not everyone is called to it. The full initiation path is kind of comparable to studying to become clergy in Christian denominations. Meanwhile, the people still light their candles and make their offerings on the feast days, and go to an initiate for healing and advice when they need it.

(Because of my great-aunt in Bahia, who gave me this information for free, I know who my orixa is and who my mother's is, which goes a long way towards explaining why we clash so much although we love each other so intensely. :D)
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 05:43 PM
Response to Original message
11. Talking about Vodou would be the same as discussing a penis or vagina on TeeVee. It
Edited on Sun Jan-17-10 05:45 PM by bertman
just ain't done because they are things that are not talked about, words that are verboten.

I have no use for any religions, but if you say it's a biggie, I'll include Vodou on my list of religions I don't want to practice.

I certainly agree with your take on the way the "accepted" religious traditions get plenty of air time.

Rec

P.S. the erzulies site will not open for me.
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Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #11
14. Huh. It still opens for me.
I'm using Firefox...does that make a difference?
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 06:39 PM
Response to Reply #14
22. Probably. I'm on a Mac. I'll try again later.
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Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 06:48 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. I'm on a Mac too!
And a creaky old one at that. Weird. It did have a little lag time.

It comes up pretty high on a Google search on Vodou in Haiti, so maybe it's getting more traffic than it's used to because of the news.
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 08:00 PM
Response to Reply #24
31. Yeah. And you caused it with your link!
:rofl: :rofl:
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 05:44 PM
Response to Original message
12. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
 
Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 05:48 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Did you miss the part where I said that many people there practice both?
And is the rudeness helping your argument one little bit?
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janedum Donating Member (374 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 05:52 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. I'm been to HAITI numerous times, and MOST Haitians DON'T "practice" Vodou. .. NOT!!
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Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 05:57 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. But many do.
I've never been to Haiti, but I have been to Brazil numerous times, and although that is also a Catholic country, I know what a huge cultural force and presence the African-New World religions are. Most people aren't initiates, but everyone knows someone who is. Everything I've read about Haiti and every Haitian I've ever known agrees that it is something that's very much part of the culture there as well.

Why get so angry about people saying this? Do you think this is a BAD thing? Something to be ashamed of? I don't think it is. I think it's a cultural treasure and something to be proud of. It's a spiritual connection to Africa and is also innovative and responsive to the here and now.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 06:18 PM
Response to Reply #12
21. You know, of course, that Vodou is NOT devil worship, right?
Yes, Haiti is a Christian country in the same way that Japan is a Buddhist country--where most people also practice Shinto and maybe one of the so-called "New Religions" as well.
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Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 07:31 PM
Response to Reply #21
28. Something tells me that poster isn't coming back.
Edited on Sun Jan-17-10 07:31 PM by Withywindle
That Wikipedia article s/he/it posted about religion in Haiti? Talks about Catholicism and the many other Christian denominations practiced there, and also includes this passage:

The New World Afro-diasporic religion of Vodou is also practiced. Vodou encompasses several different traditions, and consists of a mix encompassing African, European and indigenous Tano religious elements. In this way, it is very similar to other Latin American syncretist movements, such as the Cuban Santera. It is more widespread in rural parts of the country, partly due to negative stigmas attached to its practice.

The exact number of Vodou practitioners is unknown. However, a significant amount of the population practice it, often alongside their Christian faith.


Isn't that PRETTY MUCH EXACTLY WHAT I SAID?!?

I guess the only difference is that I disapprove of the "negative stigmas attached to its practice." I gather that poster approves of the negative stigmas.
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glitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 06:58 PM
Response to Original message
26. What an excellent post. It's never too late to learn something. K & R nt
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Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. Thank you so much!
I just feel it's the elephant in the room and deserves to be acknowledged in a respectful way.

We all know that's what Pat Robertson was alluding to, when he showed off his hateful ignorance and racism. The way to shame and shut down ignorance is with knowledge and understanding. (Not more angry shouting.)
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Mojorabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 07:57 PM
Response to Original message
30. The pagan media has had a lot to say
The wild hunt blog had a nice piece which also had some comments re the Mass. election..
http://wildhunt.org/blog/2010/01/its-all-voodoos-fault....

with a link to how vodou helped the slaves to free themselves.
http://crookedtimber.org/2010/01/15/history-is-the-devi...
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Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 08:35 PM
Response to Reply #30
32. VERY important links, thank you!
Although now I kind of wish I hadn't read that about Martha Coakley and the SRA bullshit.

That's a digression, though. The point that I think is important here is that Christianity started out as a progressive religion of the people, but lost that moral high ground the first time it became a religion of the imperial state that oppressed others and used the full force of the Roman military to push it down peoples' throats. (Constantine I, 272-337 AD). Jesus wept, indeed. He's been weeping for about 1700 years.

Let various religions BE, learn about them, ans respect them. It's a huge world out there, and religions' legitimacy is not determined by whether or not they came out of a relatively tiny region in the Middle East within a relatively tiny time frame.

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Igel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 07:23 PM
Response to Original message
37. Probably for the good.
Mention voodoo (by any spelling) and some would be more likely to donate and others less likely.

I'm guessing that those more likely would be fewer and trivially more likely than those who would be less likely. Think of it as PR.
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