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#494: Further discussion of use of vodou symbols: O'Brien replies to Gier

From: Martha O'Brien <mobfa1@scotus.sfcpa.edu>

In response to Evelien de Gier's comments about using vodou 
imagery, I would like to state that not all Christians share the view 
that all vodou imagery is offensive.  I am at least nominally a 
Christian, our project is based in a college run by the Franciscan 
T.O.R.s, many of our participants and supporters are at least 
nominally Christian, the work which we support in Haiti is Christian--
none of which would lead me to ignore something which is a strong 
reality in Haitian life and which is an intrinsic part of the fabric of 
Haitian culture.  My concern is not with whether I would be 
offending someone on this campus (the idea has already been 
discussed here and does not seem to be problematic), rather  
whether practitioners of Vodou consider the flags to be sacred 
objects which would be demeaned by being part of a secular 
display.  I also am secure that the group which we are helping in 
Haiti is in no way prejudiced against Vodou (Brother Francklin will 
tell you that his mother served the lwa, that he works closely with 
the local Vodou priest, that many of the children who attend the 
schools facilitated by the Little Brothers and Little Sisters are from 
families who practice Vodou,etc.)  Additionally, it is my 
understanding (I wish I could remember where I read this) that 
when the Roman Catholic church in Haiti went to the vernacular, 
many of the hymns which were introduced untilized Vodou drum 
rhythms and some even utilized Vodou melodies to which Christian 
words were written.  So, in the Roman Catholic milieu in which we 
are working there appears to be much less perception of Vodou as 
"evil" and much more acceptance of it as yet another religious 
tradition to be respected and valued for what it is.  I am sure that 
within the Roman Catholic church there are those who would not 
share my views on this, but I do not believe that I will be offending 
anyone on this campus at this time and would be happy to discuss 
our differences of opinion if necessary.

I would be most interested in Mambo Racine Sans Bout's opinion 
on this.

Additionally, I received two posts off-line admonishing me to be 
sure to check copyrights--someone else had already been 
assigned to do that and is pursuing it.

Thank you for your input.