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#2796: wellmeaning foreigner replies
From: madison bell <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I have some sympathy for both sides of this debate. Antoine is not the
first to blame religion and attendant superstition for social and economic
backwardness, nor is Vodou the only religion to be so blamed. Believers
can waste their substance in trying to influence the immaterial world and
in that effort be conned by unscrupulous priest-- this goes on in Vodou,
Christianity, and other religions too. (Compare, for example, tv
evangelism in the US). Antoine's unhappiness with this kind of
wastefulness is very understandable.
there are also many wellmeaning foreigners who want to preserve Vodou as a
sort of anthropological wildlife refuge and therefore resent the
missionaries.. This is not my attitude either.
What Haiti has in Vodou is a religion that functions very well at all
levels of life and is shared by the vast majority of the population, and
which provides for its participants a center for life-- a balance on the
cusp of the spiritual and material worlds, a strong sense of community
connection, and a certainty about one's place in the world and in the
hereafter. This is a cultural asset which Haiti enjoys and which the
United States does not, and has not for quite a long time. A strong
religion that engages most of the people in the country seems even enviable
to this particular wellmeaning foreigner. the US has many material assets
that Haiti lacks but this is a big spiritual asset which the U.S. lacks.
Meanwhile, in all honesty, I don't think Vodou or superstition has much to
do with holding Haiti back from social and economic progress. The barrier
is rather chronic political instability and the absence of a functioning
government. These, in my view, are not religious issues.....