“In Praise of Books and Reading Well: My Journey with Books”

“In Praise of Books and Reading Well: My Journey with Books”

I love good and beautifully written books. I also admire and have great respect for writers who use language with precision and clarity and words with great economy, emotional and intellectual restraint, and linguistic control.
I must admit the fact that I am a bibliophile and have always been a book enthusiast since I was a kid–growing up in Haiti, a country where books and good public libraries are rare. However, Haitian literature is very rich, and Haiti is a country of great writers, great minds, and great literature. Arguably, the country of Haiti has produced some of the most important, prolific, and influential writers in the Americas, writing in French, Spanish, and English languages.

Nonetheless, I became more conscious about my love for books, uncontrollable interest in good writing/ writers, and the weight and glory of good words and the correct usage of the right words when I was probably in 5th grade. In 7th grade, my passion for good books exploded with an enormous and enduring zeal that would eventually shaped my High school years, and eventually my academic life and my identity as a writer.

In Haiti, I attended an all-boys Roman Catholic School, Collège Notre Dame du Perpétuel Sécours (CNPS), a rigorous and college preparatory school that has trained some of the most brilliant minds, who originated from Northern Haiti; Haiti has ever produced, such as Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Arly Lariviére, etc. I was able to attend CNPS not because my parents could afford it financially; it was because of my high academic performance and excellence that granted me access to this bourgeois school in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. It was the school where all the rich kids and those in the upper class and the sons of the most powerful figures in society attended. My parents struggled to pay the semester-by-semester tuition and other related expenses. God is always on the side of the poor and the economically disadvantaged group; he generously provided for my brother and me every semester, while we were attending; I managed to make it through the academic year and until my final year of Middle School. The trajectories of my life would change when I immigrated to the United States at the age of 15; I attended a new school, in a foreign environment, a High School that was not like the one at home. Yet, I would find comfort and peace in and through books at the Broward County Public Library in Fort Lauderdale, where I would visit four to five times a week, when school was dismissed.

My favorite Middle School memory was not the time of recess or hanging out with friends, but the memorable Friday when my class would go to the library to check out novels. Oh yes, the visit to the library was the most delightful time in my childhood in Middle school. The school administration and librarian did not allow students to check out more than three books, at one time, but I attempted in several occasions to break the rule and to cheat. In fact, I would take four to five books at one time and take them to the library desk to check out. The library would kindly refuse the extra one or two. That one or two books that I couldn’t check out from the library were usually among the top ten novels I wanted to read for the next two weeks or for the month and before I would return to the library to check out more books.

Books give meaning to life. Good books deconstruct, construct, and reconstruct the human imagination and action, and they breathe new lives to dead souls and the spirit in the dark. They also bring dignity to human relationships and friendship. Books change history, culture, and society. Good books and good writers change people and contribute to human flourishing and the common good.

“20 Caribbean Theologians and Biblical Scholars You Should Know”

“20 Caribbean Theologians and Biblical Scholars You Should Know” by Celucien L. Joseph, PhD

The following recommendations highlight the most important theological writings or works of twenty Anglophone Caribbean Theologians and Biblical Scholars. By Anglophone Caribbean, we mean two things: (1) individuals who were born in English-speaking Caribbean countries, and (2) individuals who were not born in the Caribbean but of Anglophone Caribbean descent. Both groups write in the English language and the Caribbean occupies a major place in their scholarship and theological thinking. The order of the listing does not carry any intellectual value or weight.

  1. Idris Hamid (PhD, Theology: Union Theological Seminary)

Recommended Writings:
“The social witness of the Presbyterian Church in Trinidad, 1868-1968” (Doctoral Dissertation, 1976); In Search of new Perspectives (1971); Troubling of the waters; a collection of papers and responses (1973); Out of the depths (1977); A history of the Presbyterian Church in Trinidad 1868-1968 (1980); Theological options for Caribbean Christianity (1983).

2. Noel Leo Erskine (PhD, Systematic Theology: Union Theological Seminary) is Professor of Theology and Ethics at Candler School of Theology/Emory University.

Recommended Writings:
Decolonizing Theology: A Caribbean Perspective (1981); King Among the Theologians(1994); From Garvey to Marley: Rastafari Theology (2005); Black Theology and Pedagogy (2008); Plantation Church: How African American Religion Was Born in Caribbean Slavery (2014); “Black Theology in Jamaica,” Cambridge Companion in Black Theology, Cambridge University Press, September 01, 2012; “What Method for the Oppressed? Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Contribution to Nation-Building in the Caribbean.” In an Inescapable Network of Mutuality: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Globalization of an Ethical Ideal, Cascade Books, August 30, 2013

3. Kortright Davis (D.Phil., Theology: University of Sussex) is Professor of Theology at Howard University School of Divinity.

Recommended Writings:
Emancipation Still Comin’: Explorations in Caribbean Emancipatory Theology(2008); Mission for Caribbean change : Caribbean development as theological enterprise (1982); Cross and crown in Barbados : Caribbean political religion in the late 19th century (2011); African Creative Expressions Of The Divine (1991); Serving With Power : Reviving The Spirit Of Christian Ministry (199); Compassionate love and ebony grace : Christian altruism and people of color (2014).

4. Robert Beckford (PhD, Theology, Culture, and Politics: University of Birmingham) is Professor of Black Theology at The Queen’s Ecumenical Foundation and Birmingham City University.

Recommended Writings:
Jesus is Dread: Black Theology and Black Culture in Britain (1998); Dread and Pentecostal: A Political Theology for the Black Church in Britain (2000); God of the Rahtid : Redeeming Rage (2001); God and the Gangs (2004); Jesus Dub: Theology, Music and Social Change (2006); Documentary as Exorcism: Resisting the Bewitchment of Colonial Christianity (2014).

5. Anthony G. Reddie (PhD, Education (With Theology): University of Birmingham) is Director for the Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture within Oxford University and a fellow of Regent’s Park College, Oxford. He is also Professor Extraordinarius in the Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systemic Theology at the University of South Africa.

Recommended Writings:
“The Christian education of African Caribbean children in Birmingham : creating a new paradigm through developing better praxis”(Doctoral dissertation, 2000); Postcolonial Black British Theology (1998); Nobodies to somebodies : a practical theology for education and liberation (2003); Black theology in transatlantic dialogue (2009);Working Against the Grain: Re-Imaging Black Theology in the 21st Century (2014);Is God Colour-Blind); Black theology, slavery and contemporary Christianity : 200 years and no apology (2016); Theologising Brexit : a liberationist and postcolonial critique (2019); Is God colour-blind? : insights from black theology for Christian faith and ministry (2020): “Doing It Our Way: Caribbean Theology, Contextualisation and Cricket” (2018).

6. Edmund Davis (PhD, Theology: Faculteit der Godgeleerheid, Universiteit Utrecht)

Recommended Writings:
Roots and blossoms (1977); Courage and commitment (1988); Theological education in a multi-ethnic society : the united theological college of the West Indies and its four antecedent institutions (1841-1966) (1998); Beyond boundaries : identity, faith and hope amidst fear and insecurity (2002).

7. Lewin Lascelles Williams (PhD, Theology: Union Theological Seminary)

Recommended Writings: “The Indigenization of Theology in the Caribbean” (Doctoral dissertation, 1989); Caribbean Theology (1994); The Caribbean: Enculturation, Acculturation, and the Role of the Churches (1996).

8. David I. Mitchell (Doctor of Education, Union Theological Seminary/Columbia University)

Recommended Writings:
Religious education and the Protestant Church of the Caribbean (1956); With Eyes Wide Open: A Collection of Papers by Caribbean Scholars on Caribbean Christian Concerns (1973); New Mission for a new people: Voices from the Caribbean(1977).

9. Michael St. A. Miller (PhD, Religion and Theology: Claremont Graduate School/Claremont Graduate University) is Associate Professor of Systematic and Philosophical Theology and Director of Cross-Cultural and International Programs at Christian Theological Seminary

Recommended Writings:
“Religion and the Caribbean: With Epistemological Considerations and Their Implications for Doing Theology in the Caribbean” (Doctoral dissertation, 1996); Reshaping the Contextual Vision in Caribbean Theology: Theoretical Foundations for Theology Which is Contextual, Pluralistic, and Dialectical (2007); “Mission in Pluralistic Contexts: A Caribbean Perspective,” in Introduction to Disciples Theology, ed. Peter Heltzel (2008); “Caribbean History and the Quest for Freedom: Freedom, Further Undermined but Unconquered,” Encounter 71, No. 3 (Summer 2010); “Caribbean History and the Quest for Freedom: Freedom Lives in Plunder, Resistance, and Compromise,” Encounter 71, No. 2 (Spring 2010); “Impulses in Caribbean Theology,” in Papers from Network on Theological Inquiry, ed. Preman Niles, (CWM: October 1998).

10. Dianne M. Stewart (PhD, Systematic Theology: Union Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Emory University.

Recommended Writings:
“The evolution of African-derived religions in Jamaica : toward a Caribbean theology of collective memory” (Doctoral dissertation, 1997); Three Eyes from the Journey: African Dimensions of the Jamaican Religious Experience (2005); “Womanist Theology in the Caribbean Context: Critiquing Culture, Rethinking Doctrine, and Expanding Boundaries” (2004); “Religious Pluralism and African American Theology,” The Oxford Handbook of African American Theology, edited by Katie Cannon and Anthony Pinn, 331-350 (2014); “Women in African Caribbean Religious Traditions,” in Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America, edited by Rosemary Skinner Kellar and Rosemary Radford Ruether, 116-126 (2006); Black Women, Black Love: America’s War on African American Marriage (2020).

11. Anna Kasafi Perkins (PhD, Theological Ethics: Boston College) is Senior Programme Officer, Quality Assurance Unit, Office of the Board for Undergraduate Studies (OBUS).

Recommended Writings:
The Wages of Sin is Babylon (2014); Justice as Equality: Michael Manley’s Caribbean Vision of Justice (2010); Justice and Peace in a Renewed Caribbean: Contemporary Catholic Reflections (2012); “The Centre No Longer Holds: Caribbean Theologyv(Dis)Engages the Cultural Space.” In Judith Soares and Oral W. Thomas (eds.), Contending Voices in Caribbean Theology, pp. 73-92 (2019); “Resisting Definitive Interpretation: Seeing the Exodus through Caribbean(ite) Eyes, Text and Context: Vernacular Approaches to the Bible in Global Christianity, ed. Melanie Baffes, pp. 23-39 (2005); Is Moral Dis-Ease Making Jamaica Ill? Revisiting the Conversation (2013); “Theologising Women, Speaking across Traditions: A Response”. Theologising Women: Speaking Across Traditions. Judith Soares and Vivette Jennings. (Eds.). WAND, UWI Open Campus (2009); America Will Call Evil by its Name”: Evil as atheologically and morally loaded notion in American Foreign Policy Discourse, in Ethical Issues in International Communications. Ed. Alexander G. Nikolaev, pp. 71-84 (2011); “Some Theological Reflections on Exodus Politics and Leadership in the Pre-Independence English-Speaking Caribbean” (2001).

12. George MacDonald Mulrain (PhD, Theology; University of Birmingham) is President of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA).

Recommended Writings:
“Theological Significance of Haitian Folk Religion” (Doctoral dissertation, 1982); “Training for missionary work overseas : a study of personal development for coping” (M. Phil, 1997); Caribbean Theological Insights: Exploring Theological Themes Within The Context Of The Caribbean Region (2014); Theology in Folk Culture: The Theological Significance of Haitian Folk Religion (1984); “Tools for mission in the Caribbean culture,” International review of mission, v. 75, no 297, pp. 51-58 (1986).

13. Marjorie Lewis (PhD, Theology: University of Birmingham) is University Chaplain at Acadia University.

Recommended Writings:
“Towards A Systematic Spirituality for Black British Women’” (Doctoral dissertation, 2007); “Diaspora Dialogue: Womanist Theology in Engagement with Some Aspects of the Black British and Jamaican Experience,” in Anthony Reddie (Ed.) Black Theology an International Journal Volume 2 Number 1 January (2004) pp. 85–109; “You have to stand on crooked
and cut straight”- reflections on Tamar” (2011); “A Reimagined Framework for Theological Education: Mainstreaming Gender in Theological Education” (2019).

14. Michael N. Jagessar (PhD, Theology: Universiteit Utrecht) is Minister of the United Reformed Church with responsibility for intercultural theology and practice of ministry, and former moderator of the General Assembly.

Recommended Writings:
“Full Life For all: The Work and Theology of Philip A. Potter : A Historical Survey and Systematic Analysis of Major Themes” (Doctoral dissertation, 1997); “A Theological Evaluation of Community in Wilson Harris’ The Guyana Quartet” (MA Thesis, 1992); “Caribbean Literature: A Theological Perspective : An exploration of religious themes in Caribbean Literature from a theological perspective” (2010); Postcolonial Black British theology : new textures and themes (2007); Christian worship : postcolonial perspectives (2011); Black Theology in Britain: A Reader (2016), Ethnicity: The Inclusive Church Resource (2015.

15. Oral Thomas (PhD, Theology: University of Birmingham) is President and Professor in the Arts in Ministerial Studies at the United Theological College of the West Indies.

Recommended Writings:
“Contextual Contestation in Biblical Hermeneutics within a Caribbean Context: A Case for a Biblical Resistant Hermeneutic” ( 2007); “Genesis 1-2:4a and Exodus 1-15: A Basis for a Theology of Liberation” (MTS Thesis, 1996); “A Resistant Biblical Hermeneutic within the Caribbean”, Black Theology, An International Journal, Volume 6 No. 3 (2008); Biblical Resistance Hermeneutics within a Caribbean Context (2014); “Biblical Interpretation within a Caribbean Context”, In Black Theology, Slavery and Contemporary Christianity (2016); “Ashley Smith, Carnival, and Hermeneutics: Reflections on Caribbean Biblical Interpretation” (2013).

16. Delroy A. Reid-Salmon (PhD, Theology: University of Birmingham) is Pastor of the Grace Baptist Chapel in New York and a Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture, Regents Park College.

Recommended Writings:
Home away from home : the Caribbean Diasporan Church in the Black Atlantic tradition(2008) ; Burning for Freedom: A Theology of the Black Atlantic Struggle for Liberation; Burning for freedom : a theology of the black Atlantic struggle for liberation (2012); “A Sin of Black Theology: The Omission of the Caribbean Diasporan Experience from Black Theological Discourse” (2008); “Omar M. McRoberts, Streets of Glory: Church and Community in a Black Urban Neighborhood” (2007); “African American Theology and Her Siblings in the Caribbean Diaspora: Toward a Theology of a Plurality of Praxis in the Black Atlantic World” (2019).

17. Margaret Aymer (PhD, New Testament and Early Christianity: Union Theological Seminary) is Professor of New Testament at the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Recommended Writings:
First pure, then peaceable : Frederick Douglass, darkness, and the Epistle of James (2008); James: Diaspora Rhetorics of a Friend of God (2014), Fortress Commentary on the Bible (with Gale A. Yee, Fortress Press, 2014); Islanders, Islands and the Bible: Ruminations (2015); The letters and legacy of Paul (2016); Fortress Commentary on the Bible: The New Testament (2014).

18. Valentina Alexander (PhD, Theology: University of Warwick) is Professor of Black Theology at The Queen’s Ecumenical Foundation and Birmingham City University.

Recommended Writings:
“Breaking Every Fetter”: To What Extent Has the Black Led Church in Britain Developed a Theology of Liberation? (Doctoral Dissertation, 1997); “Afrocentric and Black Christian Consciousness: Towards an Honest Intersection.” Black Theology in Britain: A Journal of Contextual Practice, 11-1 (1998); “Onesimus’s Letter to Philemon,” Black Theology: A Journal of Contextual Praxis 4, 61-65 (2000); “Passive and Active Radicalism in Black Led Churches. “In Black Theology in Britain: A Reader. Edited by Michael N. Jagessar and Anthony G. Reddie. (2007).

19. Lorraine Dixon is a retired Anglican Priest and womanist theologian.

Recommended Writings:
“A Black Woman and Deacon: A Womanist Reflection on Pastoral Ministry.” Aldred (ed.) Sisters with Power, pp. 50–64 (2000); “Teach it, Sister!’ Mahalia Jackson as Theologian in Song.” Black Theology in Britain 2 (1999): 72-89; “Reflections on Pastoral Care from a Womanist Perspective.” The Interdisciplinary Journal of Pastoral Studies 132 (2000): 3-10; “A Reflection on Black Identity and Belonging in the Context of the Anglican Church in England: A Way Forward.” Black in Theology in Britain: Black Theology in Britain: A Journal of Contextual Practice 4 (2000): 22-37. “Tenth Anniversary Reflections on Robert Beckford’s Jesus is Dread: Black Theology and Black Culture in Britain.” Black Theology: An International Journal 6, no. 3 (2008): 300-307; “Are Vashti and Esther our Sista? The Stories of Two Biblical Women as Paradigmatic of Black Women’s Resistance in Slavery” (2000).

20. Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Caribbean Family Planning Affiliation (CFPA) and former Executive Director of the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association.

Recommended Writings:
Created in God’s image : from hegemony to partnership : a church manual on men as partners : promoting positive masculinities (2010); Righting Her-Story: Caribbean Women Encounter the Bible Story (2011); Bible and theology from the underside of empire (2016); “The spirit that groans within us : the challenge of being semper reformanda churches” (2007); “Confessing Faith Together in the Economy: The Accra Confession and Covenanting for Justice Movement” (2008).

“20 Haitian Theologians and Biblical Scholars You Should Know”

“20 Haitian Theologians and Biblical Scholars You Should Know”

  1. Jean-Bertrand Aristide (PhD, African languages: University of South Africa)

*Recommended Writings: In the Parish of the Poor: Writings from Haiti (1990); Théologie et politique (1992); Aristide: An Autobiography (1993); Tout homme est un homme (1992); Névrose vétéro-testamentaire (1994); Dignity (1996); Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization (2000); Haiti-Haiti: Philosophical Reflections for Mental Decolonization (2011).

2. Laënnec Hurbon (PhD, Theology: Institut Catholique de Paris; PhD, Sociology: Sorbonne University)

*Recommended Writings :

Dieu dans le Vodou haitien (1972); Le Barbare imaginaire (1987); Les mystères du vaudou/Voodoo: Search for the Spriit (1993); « The Church and Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Saint-Domingue. » The abolitions of slavery : from Léger Félécité Sonthonax to Victor Schœlcher, p. 55-68/ Publisher: New York, NY [ etc.] : Berghahn Books [etc.], 2003.

3. Jules Casseus (D.Min., Pastoral Theology: Colgate Rochester Divinity School)

*Recommended Writings: Pour une Église Authentiquement Haitien (1987); Théologie Pastorale : Etre un bon Pasteur dans un monde Corrompu(1997); Ethique Chrétienne : Etre un enfant de lumière dans un Monde de Ténèbres (2001); Haïti, quelle église– quelle libération? : (réflexions théologiques contextuelles autour des évènements socio-politiques et ecclésiologiques allant du 7 février 1986 au 7 février 1991) (1991); Haiti : what kind of church … what kind of freedom?(2004); Élements de théologie haïtienne (2007); Toward a contextual Haitian theology, 2013.

4. Fritz Fontus (PhD, Theology)

*Recommended Writings: Le chrétien et la politique (1982); Effective communication of the Gospel in Haiti: its inculturation (2001); Les Églises protestantes en Haïti. Communication et inculturation (2001).

5. Jean Fils-Aime (PhD, Theology: Université de Montréal)

*Recommended Writings:

L’inculturation de la foi chrétienne au contexte du vodou haïtien : une analyse de l’oeuvre de trois théologiens protestants haïtiens (PhD, Dissertation, 2005); Vodou, je me souviens (2005); Et si les loas n’étaient pas des diables? : une enquête à la lumière des religions comparées ; essai (2008); Le nécessaire dialogue entre le vaudou et la foi chrétienne: l”inculturation de la foi chrétienne au contexte du vaudou (2010); 200 ans de zombification massive. Les églises évangéliques en Haïti. Le temps des bilans (2017).

6. Karl Lévêque (PhD, Philosophy: Université de Strasbourg)

*Recommended Writings: La philosophie de la connaissance chez Lucien Lévy-Bruhl (Doctoral Dissertation, 1967); De la théologie politique à la théologie de la revolution (1970); L’interpellation mystique dans le discours duvaliérien, in Nouvelle Optique (1971); L’analyse sociale : pour voir au changement, in Relations (1982); En cas de conflit : une Église en situation de conflit (198?); L’analyse politique : idéologie et mentalité sociale (1993).

7. Ronald Charles (PhD, New Testament/Early Christianity: University of Toronto)

*Recommended Writings: Paul and the Politics of Diaspora (2014); Traductions Bibliques Créoles et Préjugés Linguistiques (2015); The Silencing of Slaves in early Jewish and Christian Writings (2019); “Interpreting the Book of Revelation in the Haitian context.” Black Theology: An International Journal 9.2 (2011) 177-198; “Q as a question from a postcolonial point of view.” Black Theology: An International Journal7.2 (August 2009) 182-199.

8. Abson Predestin Joseph (PhD, New Testament Studies: Brunel University/London School of Theology)

*Recommended Writings: Shaping Theological Education in the Caribbean: A Community Approach (2011); A Narratological Reading of 1 Peter (2012).

9. Dieumème Noelliste (PhD, Theological Studies: Northwestern University)

*Recommended Writings: Shaping Theological Education in the Caribbean: A Community Approach ( 2011); Diverse and Creative Voices: Theological Essays from the Majority World (2015); Les religions afro-caribeennes a la lumiere de la foi chretienne: Similitudes et differences (2019).

10. Jean Duthène Joseph (PhD, Theology: Trinity Theological Seminary)

*Recommended Writings: The Symbiotic Relationship Between Roman Catholicism and Haitian Vodou and the Impact of their Association on the Protestant Church and Community in Haiti(Doctoral dissertation, 2006); Le millénium : une réalité incontournable dans le plan de Dieu pour la fin des temps (2012); La foi judéo-chrétienne à la croisée des chemins (2017)

11. Chantale Victor Guiteau (PhD, Theology: South African Theological Seminary)

*Recommended Writings: The Role of Evangelical Churches in Combating Structural Corruption in Haiti (Doctoral dissertation, 2017); Combating Structural Corruption in Haiti: Role and Contribution of Evangelical Churches (2020); Les femmes dans l’expansion de l’Eglise de Dieu en Haiti : rôle et contribution (2002).

12. Nixon S. Cleophat (PhD, Theology and Ethics: Union Theological Seminary)

*Recommended Writings: Vodou in Haitian Memory: The Idea and Representation of Vodou in Haitian Imagination (2016); Vodou in the Haitian Experience: A Black Atlantic Perspective Critical Approaches to Religion: Race, Class, Sexuality, and Gender (2018)

13. Kawas François (PhD, Theology: Institut Catholique de Paris, STBS ; PhD, Sociology: Institut Catholique de Paris, FASSE).

*Recommended Writings: Nouvelle évangélisation et culture haïtienne : évolution institutionnelle de l’Eglise catholique en Haïti après le Concile Vatican II et son nouveau rapport au Vaudou (Doctoral dissertation, 1994); L’Eglise catholique à l’épreuve du pluralisme religieux. Re- Cherche Documentaire sur la situation actuelle de l’Eglise catholique par Rapport aux Autres religion (2003); Vaudou et Catholicisme en Haïti à l’aube du au XXI ̊ : des repères pour un dialogue (2005); Sources documentaires de l’histoire des jésuites en Haïti aux XVIIIe et XXe siècles : 1704-1763, 1953-1964 (2006); L’histoire des jésuites en Haïti aux XVIIIe et XXe siècles : 1704-1763, 1953-1964 (2006); L’ètat et l’èglise Catholique en Haïti aux XIX ̊et XX ̊siècles (1860-1980) : documents officiels, déclarations, correspondances etc. : Tome I (2006); Jésuites, sciences et changement social en Haïti, hier et aujourd’hui : un engagement intellectuel au service des autres (2010).

14. William Smarth (PhD, Theology)

*Recommended Writings: Mentalité chrétienne pour le développement : simples réflexions pour le stage de formation missionnaire (1968); Ki kalite demokrasi nou bezwen ann Ayiti (1991); L’Église concordataire sous la dictature des Duvalier (1957-1983) (2000); Histoire de l’Église catholique d’Haïti, 1492-2003 : des points de repère (2015).

15. Godefroy Midy (PhD, Theology: Université de Montréal; PhD, FordhaUniversity)

*Recommended Writings: Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s Philosophy of the Person (Doctoral dissertation , 1971); Jalons pour une théologie haitienne libératrice en dialogue avec G. Gutierrez et J.L.Segundo (Doctoral dissertation, 1977); Evangéliser Haiti pour une culture de vie, Bulletin de Liaison, Vol. IX, No. 3, Centre Pedro-Arrupe, Haiti (Octobre 2004), p. 2-17.

16. Henri Claude Télusma (PhD, Theology: Université de Strasbourg)

*Recommended Writings: Une analyse théologique de la coexistence christianisme/vaudou en Haïti : ouverture pour un dialogue interreligieux A theological analysis of the coexistence Christianity / Voodoo in Haiti : opening for an interreligious dialogue (Doctoral dissertation, 2017); Théologie et prédication dans le contexte actuel d’Haïti (2017); Bicentenaire du protestantisme en Haïti : enjeux et perspectives théologiques (2015); État des lieux des rapports antagonistes entre chrétiens et vodouisants en Haïti(2018).

17. Manassé Pierre-Louis (PhD. cand., Theology: Université de Strasbourg)

*Recommended Writings :Bicentenaire du protestantisme en Haïti : enjeux et perspectives théologiques (2015); Théologie et prédication dans le contexte actuel d’Haïti (2017); “LE MANIFESTE DE L’EGLISE POUR UN TEMPS DE RUPTURE ET D’UN RENOUVEAU SPIRITUEL” (2019); Mes raisons de croire: Questions discutées sur la foi et la raison (2020).

18. Wilner Cayo (PhD. Theology: Université de Montréal)

*Recommended Writings: L’anthropologie théologique évangélique à la rencontre de la rationalité technoscientifique (Doctoral dissertation, 2012); L’Église haïtienne au Québec: origine, évolution et visage actuel,’ In: L’identité des protestants francophones au Québec: 1834–1997. ed. Denis Remon. Montreal: ACFAS, 1998. 139–160. Dejean, Paul. Les haïtiens au Québec; Statut éthique de la vérité en postmodernité (M.A. Thesis, 2004).

19. Lys Stéphane Florival (PhD, Christian Ethics/Theology: Loyola University Chicago)

*Recommended Writings: Haiti’s Troubles: Perspectives From the Theology of Work and From Liberation Theology (Doctoral Dissertation, 2011); Liberation ethics in Latin America : a methodological and theoretical analysis of the work of Dussel and consideration of its application to Haiti (MA Thesis, 1989).

20. Celucien L. Joseph (PhD, Systematic Theology and Ethics: University of Pretoria; PhD, Literary Studies: University of Texas at Dallas)

*Recommended Writings: Theologizing in Black: On Africana Theological Ethics and Anthropology(2020), Revolutionary Change and Democratic Religion: Christianity, Vodou, and Secularism (2020); The New Life Catechism for Children (2019); “The Rhetoric of Prayer: Dutty Boukman, The Discourse of “Freedom from Below,” and the Politics of God,” Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion2:9 (June 2011):1-33; “The Rhetoric of Suffering, Hope, and Redemption in Masters of the Dew: A Rhetorical and Politico-Theological Analysis of Manuel as Peasant-messiah and Redeemer,” Theology Today (October 2013) 70: 323-350; “Redefining cultural, national, and religious identity: The Christian–Vodouist dialogue?” Theology Today, 2016, Vol. 73(3) 241–262; “Toward a Politico-Theology of Relationality: Justice as Solidarity and the Poor in Aristide’s Theological Imagination,” Toronto School of Theology30: 2 (December 2014): 269-300; “Viv Dechoukaj Long Live Uprooting Aristide s Politico theology of Defensive Violence,” Black Theology, 15:3 (2017):185-208; “James Cone and the Crisis of American Theology,” Missionalia, v46 n2 (2018): 197-221; “The Meaning of James H. Cone and the Significance of Black Theology: Some Reflections on His Legacy,” Black Theology, v18 n2 (2020): 112-143; “Theodicy and Black Theological Anthropology in James Cone’s Theological Identity,” Toronto Journal of Theology, v35 n1 (2019): 83-111; “Towards a Caribbean Political Theology of Emancipation and Decolonization: A Comparative Analysis of Four Caribbean Theologians,” Black theology, 16, no. 2, (2018): 148-180.

“To Be Human: The Human Experience is Bigger than the American Experience”

“To Be Human: The Human Experience is Bigger than the American Experience”

It seems to me in contemporary American society, the human life and the American experience are reduced to four major issues: the narrative of race, the narrative of gender, the narrative of sexuality, and the narrative of white supremacy. The existential question before us is this: how shall we think about the discourse of race, gender, sexuality, and white supremacy within the national narrative of the American Republic today? Yet people in different parts of the world, especially in the Global South, have comparable existential human questions that may arise at any time that they often learn more in times of darkness and hopelessness than in light and freedom, including the threat of imperialism, mass poverty, global hunger, capitalist exploitation, high unemployment, mass illiteracy, child and sex trafficking, malaria, AIDS/HIV, clean and sanitary water, agriculture, farming, and the menace of American-European political hegemony in the world. My invitation to you reader is to be concerned about “the other worlds” and to ask critically : how shall we reason about other equally human concerns that are global, trans-national, trans-racial, and trans-gender in our times? Arguably, the human life is formed profoundly by different forces, competing discourses, distinct values, and it is also shaped substantially by multiple stories and agencies that are sometimes inconsistent, transnational, and heterogeneous.

By any means, am I insisting these pressing matters (race, gender, sexuality, and white supremacy) do not transform how we construct social relations, define humanity, forge friendship, and nurture human relationships in the American culture; rather, I am proposing that there are equally important experiences and narratives that are shared by all human beings universally, and that those stories and events respectively mark the human condition and alter both the civil and political societies in this culture and in the global community. I am also suggesting that the human experience—although may be shaped by a particular social environment and particular historical context within the (political) framework of a specific nation-state (i.e. the U.S.)—transcends the American experience and the Americentric definition of humanity.

Even within the geopolitical context of the United States, what it means to be human should always rise above Americentric values and ideologies. To be human should not be confined to a particular geographical location, citizenship, and nationality—those of the United States, for example. The notion of human membership is a transcendental experience that bears transnational and intercultural attributes, concurrently. While the American citizenship or nationality does in fact come with global advantages and international privileges—especially when an American travels to a foreign country with a U.S. passport, for example—because of its association with the American empire and political hegemony in the world, both citizenship and nationality as geopolitical identities also belong to all peoples and nations. Therefore, we should see ourselves as global citizens of the world and global (inter-)nationals of the global village.

To be human simply means to have defining values and qualities that are universally common in all peoples in the world, regardless of location, sexuality, race, gender, and nationality. In other words, there are human characteristics, properties, and virtues that all people in the world experience and possess, including family/kinship, friendship/companionship, compassion, kindness, love, dignity, worth, reason, self-awareness/consciousness, intelligence, ontological equality, personhood, suffering, pain, sorrow, illness, feelings/emotions, culpability/guilt, ambitions, dreams, etc.

Further, everything in society should not be reduced to the concept of race; arguably, race alone does not regulate all human trajectories and journeys in this life. All matters in society should not rotate around the notion of gender; gender alone does not constitute all the multiple identities and experiences that are intrinsic to human existence and the way an individual, for example, understands or perceives his or her place in the world. Correspondingly, everything in this culture should not be reduced to sexuality; while for some people, human sexuality (or their sexual preference) defines their humanity and struggle to articulate personal freedom and (ontological) identity, sexuality could also be interpreted collectively, that is, within the context of a community and kinship. As human beings, we do not just live personal lives; our personal lives are also corporate and collective, and beyond the confinement of the individual (sexual) preference or option. Finally, everything in society and in the human experience does not point to white supremacy; in other words, I am suggesting that white supremacy does not name human history nor defines human existence or entails what it means to be human in the world.

Our struggle is against our own conception of humanity and to be incorporated into the global humanity. Correspondingly, our underlying challenge in our community and the world is to find the appropriate tools and adequate recourses to maximize our humanity and sustain our inherent dignity while maintaining the transcendental nature of our individual and collective humanness.

Rejection is Natural to Human Life and Experience!

Rejection is Natural to Human Life and Experience!

  1. Got rejected to the PhD program at Princeton University, Northwestern University, and University of Chicago; interestingly, I persevered and went on to earn three Masters degrees and two PhDs.
  2. After I earned my PhD at #UT Dallas, during my first year as a PhD holder, I applied to over 50 academic positions, including both assistant professorships and postdoctoral fellowships; I didn’t get any of those positions. The good people at IRSC – Indian River State College believed in me and gave me a job. Currently, I’m an Associate Professor there.
  3. My first book proposal got rejected by at least five publishers before it found a home; second book proposal by at least three publishers before it was published; and third book proposal by at least four presses before it came out. Since then, I have published eight academic books in some good presses.
  4. My first academic essay on the role of religion and the Haitian Revolution was rejected by my favorite academic Journal; a second essay on the religious philosophy of Price-Mars was first rejected by another favorite academic Journal; another essay on Jean-Bertrand Aristide was rejected by two journals. Since I’ve gotten my PhD, I’ve published some 26 peer-reviewed articles.
  5. I’ve been rejected numerous times by people I call friends and truly loved, and even by pretty girls I really liked in High School and College; finally, one whom I really loved dumped me, hurt me badly, and left me behind for another boy 🙂

***The point of this post is not to lose heart and be discouraged after a rejection or many rejections, but to learn from them and improve yourself. A rejection is not a failure nor does it say you’re worthless or incapable of performing the task. Sometimes, rejections are good for your mental stability, psychological and emotional growth, and ultimately your success and welfare in this journey we call life.

“Redefining Poverty and what It Means to be Human”

“Redefining Poverty and what It Means to be Human”

  1. Being poor does not mean you are not intelligent and can’t contribute to human flourishing.
  2. Being poor does not mean you can’t have big dreams and lofty goals, and that you have nothing constructive to contribute to society.
  3. Being poor does not mean you can’t become somebody great in life and does not have a (political) voice.
  4. Being poor does not mean you can’t beat the odds of life and overcome all the unfortunate circumstances in your life.
  5. Being poor does not mean you are linguistically deficient and psychologically unfit for society and upward mobility.
  6. Being poor does not mean you are not a person and does not have dignity.
  7. Being poor does not mean you should allow people to mistreat and disrespect you just because you are poor.
  8. Being poor does not mean you’re a hopeless individual and that your life has no meaning.
  9. Being poor does not mean you are not beautifully and unwanted.
  10. Being poor does not mean God is done with you.

“Vertières is Human History”

“Vertières is Human History”

Do you know what happened on 18 November 1803? It was the historic battle of Vertières between the African army and the French imperial army and the watershed historical moment that transformed global history, especially the history of antislavery and anticolonization, and the triumph of human emancipation and human rights in the Western World, respectively.

This memorable event occurred in Haiti, where the Africans and people of African descent righteouslesly declared their humanity and dignity, justifiably abolished the institution of slavery, and ultimately destroyed the forces of white supremacy and the power of white dominion and moral darkness.

Let’s not forget this memorable saying from Papa Desalin “Pito nou lib oubyen nou mouri;” the persuasive words of Kapwa Lanmò, “Ann avan, ann avan, boulèt se pousyè;” and the convictional belief of Toussaint Louverture “Rasin libète nwa a fon ampil.”

The Vertières of Haiti is the herculean symbol of the freedom, dignity, humanity, and the equality and determination of Black people in global history and modernity. Correspondingly, the Vertières of November 18, 1803 is human history, that is, the history of all people because it declares boldly and reminds us always that “Tout moun se moun.”

“It is not enough to have expelled the barbarians who have bloodied our land for two centuries; … We must, with one last act of national authority, forever assure the empire of liberty in the country of our birth; we must take any hope of re-enslaving us away from the inhuman government …. In the end we must live independent or die.”

–Jean-Jacques Dessalines

Vertières is human history, the narrative of all people.

Vertieres: 18 November 1803-18 November 2019
Haitians Celebrating Freedom and Independence

“In Praise of Vertieres, and In Praise of Freedom and the Haitian Revolution”

O Vertieres, how could we forget Thee!

You remind us that God created men and women to be free and not to be enchained and enslaved by men.

O Glorious Vertieres, where we wrought our freedom and independence through our shed blood, You will always be a scar on our hearts and the path of freedom and inspiration for today’s troubles.

Today, the Haitian people are celebrating the Battle of Vertieres (November 18, 1803) which gave birth to two significant events in world history: the end of slavery and the founding of the first postcolonial state and the first slave-free Republic of Haiti in the Western world. It was in Vertieres African revolutionarries and men and women who dared to die free and independent conquered the greatest military and imperial power in the world: France

To remember Vertieres is to never forget the danger and threat of the unholy trinity of institutional slavery, colonization, and White supremacy in the world.

To remember Vertieres also means to continue the fight against the vestiges of slavery (modern day slavery), colonization (neocolonization), imperialism, and any form of human oppression that engenders human suffering, dehumanizes people, defers human dignity, and challenges the image of God in humanity.

“Beyond Ethnic Blackness and Whiteness in the Production of Knowledge and Understanding in North American Academia and Disciplinary Study”

“Beyond Ethnic Blackness and Whiteness in the Production of Knowledge and Understanding in North American Academia and Disciplinary Study”

This commentary is about an intellectual and disciplinary problem I continue to observe in North American academia and disciplinary study. In the few lines below, I shall describe the nature of the problem and make some propositions to improve the situation.

For example, Biblical and Theological scholarship in North America has become a binary battlefield between black and white American biblical scholars and theologians with the exclusion of other theologians & Biblical scholars of color (i.e. the Global South, Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean).

It does not matter whether the latter live in the states and/or produce good and rigorous scholarship contributing to the common good and human flourishing. Evidently, I am arguing this phenomenon is an intentional doing and calculated performance, and there’s no excuse for this tribal orientation to (inter-)disciplinary study, academic scholarship, and the production of knowledge and advancement of human understanding. We can trace the roots of this problem to the notions of formation, service, and citizenship, and North American conception of human nature, global history, and internationalism. To me, our conception of global history is framed within the boundary of a North Americanctric paradigm and epistemology. Our understanding of formation and citizenship is restricted to our national politics and the construction of knowledge within our own geographical boundary. 

Correspondingly, our understanding of rendering (human) service gives primacy to the preservation of the self, that is, the Republic of the United States. Even when we provide humanitarian aid, we’re very conscious and concerned about what we will get in return and how such international aid or assistance will contribute to North American political hegemony and dominion in the world, especially in the Global South.

In addition, our very idea of democracy and pluralism is always and almost grounded on the North American notion of democracy and human rights with little regard to the meaning of democracy and human rights for the people in the Global South, for example. In other words, our democracy is very American just like our Christianity is rooted in the North American concept of religious performance and piety.  Democracy, just like freedom and human rights, is certainly not a North America propriety and property. There are virtues and qualities that are deemed international, global, and planetary; yet the implementation and realization of such virtues or positive qualities such as democracy, freedom, tolerance, multiculturalism, respect, and pluralism should take in consideration the human condition and urgent issues in the context of a nation-state without diminishing their global effects and implications elsewhere. In other words, while we are acting nationally and behaving regionally, we need to be global thinkers and global citizens.

Unfortunately, the intellectual and disciplinary crisis described above can be construed as an intellectual tradition and a metholodogical pattern that have shaped other academic disciplines of study in North American higher learning and academia, including education, history, philosophy, religion, anthropology, literature, race studies, psychology, gender studies, Aesthetics, Classical study, political science, international relations,  etc. Such attitude toward formation and knowledge continues to have tremendous negative effects and enduring shortcomings on the contents of disciplinary curricula and academic writings, the training of individuals in higher learning, the formation of American citizens, professionals,  and public servants, as well as on the modes of knowledge production and disciplinary expression, correspondingly.

Fortunately,  the twenty-first century has afforded us with endless opportunities and resources to transcend ethnic blackness and whiteness, but to be more planetarily and diasporically oriented in our scholarship and in the production of ideas and knowledge, which could potentially embrace both national and global citizenship and advance both regional and international human causes and needs. In my perspective, this is a better and more promising way to academic, professional, and pastoral formation and human development.

What are your thoughts?