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6117: Re: 6112: "Morality"in Vodou, Dorce comments (fwd)

From: LAKAT47@aol.com

Racine125@aol.com writes:

<<  The Vodou religion is sometimes criticized as an "amoral" religion, one 
without a value system or code of behavior.  This perception is caused by the 
lack of congruence between the moral code of the observer, usually a member 
of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and the value system of Vodou.  The value 
systems of the two traditions are so different that the one is invisible to 
the other.  I, who have been raised in the Episcopal church and then 
initiated into the Vodou religion as an adult, am capable of consciously 
integrating the split perceptions of two religions in a way that very few 
people can do. >>
I am not a Vodou initiate, however I have read books written by those who 
were so taken with the religion that they became so, and my husband is a 
Vodouisant of the home grown variety, from Mirag˘ane.  He asked me to tell 
you all that he believes if you buy Vodou, you don't know Vodou.  One of the 
main reasons I have respect for the Vodou religion is the lack of both dogma 
and a hierarchy who speaks for God.  Forgive me, my clerical friends, but for 
me the fewer parties in the chain of communication with the higher power, the 
fewer chances that personal agendas will taint the message.  I understand the 
need for teaching and guidance with respect to the ways of the lwa and how to 
serve them.  If a person doesn't have a family who serves the lwa, then they 
must go to someone to get their knowledge.  And large ceremonies must be 
presided over by an elder in the religion, the Oungan or Manbo.  Ceremonies 
are conducted daily without the help of anyone but the supplicant.  The truth 
is, this religion is passed down from generation to generation and what gets 
taught evolves to accommodate the living conditions of the times, as all good 
religions do.  While I understand the concept and necessity of paying for 
services rendered, the addition of money to the equation introduces the 
opportunity for abuse.  That is not to say that charging for services is 
abuse but exploiting pain and suffering to reach the lwa is.  There are good 
Oungans and Manbos out there who have a serious calling, and I am sure they 
will admit that many others give them a bad name.

Someone just posted the definition of moral and I think it applies here. (I 
can't find that post!)  But I do not believe that the characteristics Racine 
talks about, such as lying and getting the best of others and doing harm to 
enemies is a Vodou tradition, per se.  I say this for more than one reason.  
One is that if that were true, then the religion wouldn't be so attractive to 
the many faithful American Vodouisants and other foreigners raised in a 
Judeo-Christian society.  Two is that my husband, from whom I get a lot of 
information on his reality of Vodou, believes very strongly that if you use 
the lwa to cause harm to anyone, you will pay dearly for it.  Much like 
selling your soul to the devil for Christians.  He believes that good works 
are rewarded and bad works are punished.  Not so different from our beliefs.  
Last, if Racine believes this is part of Vodou, then why is she fighting 
those values, especially if she wishes to practice in Haiti?  

I rather believe that those behaviors, when found in Haitians today, are a 
result of the dire conditions in which they are forced to live.  Fear, hunger 
to the point of starvation, overcrowding and the obvious chasm between the 
quality of their lives and the conspicuously consumptive elite's, combine to 
make people desperate, opportunistic and exhibit some behaviors we would see 
as antisocial.  I honestly believe if Haitians had a minimally decent life, 
you would see the kindest, most humorous, most generous and charming people 
in the world.  (However they would STILL never be on time!..;)  We see it now 
in the extraordinary ones who cannot help but be magnificent in the face of 
all that horror.  The others are doing what they must to survive.  And it is 
dog eat dog.

Vodou simply accommodates these behaviors because that is the reality in 
which it functions.  There are rights and wrongs taught in Vodou.  Those are 
morals.  They may be different from the ones we have here in the US but they 
are valid for Haitians.  Vodou isn't something you can put your finger on and 
define neatly.  It is fluid and regional, not to mention familial, and should 
be respected for what it means to the people.  Tampering with it is, in my 
opinion, unwise and disrespectful.


Kathy Dorce~