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#1854: Laleau replies to Nina on Vodou piece


Dear Nina,

Thank you for the great comments on vodou and Protestantism... after all, I 
guess to be Protestant, one has to have something to Protest.

But seriously -- it seems like you are doing some comprehensive work and 
thinking, and thanks again for sharing it with us.  I saw the "rice 
Christian" phenomenon in Ecuador, and also a kind of "opportunistic 
syncretism" of a purely spiritual nature.  I was living with a rural family 
in a coastal rice-growing region who said they were "Christian."  In Ecuador, 
that meant Protestant as opposed to Catholic.  I didn't know that at first, 
and when they asked me what my religion was, I said Christian too, thinking 
that it covered all the likely bases.  Well, they eventually asked me to be 
the godmother to a baby -- in the Catholic church.  By then I had figured out 
that Christian meant Protestant, and so I asked them, "But Comadre, I thought 
you were Christian."  She said, "Well, Comadre, just in case..."  

Another time, I was insisting on sleeping in the hammock at night, against 
their advice that it would be uncomfortable.  Finally, when they saw I was 
really serious, they reluctantly told me the real reason not to sleep there: 
"If you have even just a TINY little sin on your soul, the Devil will come 
and shake the hammock and you will fall out of it."  They also went to an 
Indian healer in the Santo Domingo de los Colorados area for very serious 
illnesses, and he would do spells for them at a very high price.  They had 
local remedies to get rid of little illnesses caused by spirits, too, and 
little by little I heard about one or two of them.  So they practiced 
everything, just in case.  Would Haitians do any less, do you think?

Nancy Laleau