By Bob Lieske

Some comments on Bob's book by Bob Corbett

The approach taken in all of the analyses and descriptions of Voodoo in this edition of STRETCH have been sympathetic approaches, recognizing Voodoo as Haiti's dominant religion and accepting that as either good for Haiti, or at best, avoiding any hint of a negative stance. This is not the attitude of my dear friend and correspondent, Bob Lieske. Some years ago Bob and I began our discussions and letters concerning Voodoo. While we are close friends, enjoying and respecting each other very much, we have serious differences when it comes to attitudes toward Voodoo.

Recently Bob produced 200 page book on Haitian culture of which nearly half is a record of our correspondence and a long essay ("Open Letter To Bob Corbett") in which he submits my views to a scathing attack. It takes Bob some 200 pages to develop his theme and critique, but I think I can summarize the two leading theses in a couple of sentences:

  1. In Bob's experience of many years living in Haiti, including his two year stay in Cite Soleil, his observations of Voodoo have been of an oppressive and negative force in peoples' lives. Bob argues (rightly I think) that Voodoo is not mainly the ceremonies, but the daily way to be in the world which Voodoo influences, even on the parts of people who do not participate much in the ceremonies. This sort of cultural influence of the religion is mirrored in Christianity influence on the daily cultural and moral life in our own culture.
  2. Lieske's position transcends a discussion of Voodoo or even Haiti. In general he holds that the central issue in living is the dominant moral system which guides or motivates a society. He believes that Christianity provides the best, or at least one of the very best, moral codes ever developed by humans. He certainly recognizes that many Christians do not live up to the moral code, and that historically horrible things have been done in the name of Christianity. Nonetheless, it is Lieske's view that the moral code of Christianity is a highly desirable code of conduct. When he compares the possibilities for Haiti, he believes that the culture of Voodoo is too negative and holds too few possibilities for positive development. Thus he advocates a proselytizing of Haitian society toward Christianity, though he himself is not engaged in that proselytization.

Bob's book is available to any reader who would like to follow this discussion in detail. To receive a copy please contact:

Robert Lieske
4833 Venner Road
Martinez, CA 94553


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