10 Basic Facts about Religion: A Comparative Approach

10 Basic Facts about Religion: A Comparative Approach

  1. Submission is a universal characteristic of all religious faiths. The essence of religion is devotion and submission to a transcendent Being (Beings), the ultimate Reality, or a metaphysical Force (Forces) beyond the natural world.
  2. Organization is basic to all religious traditions. Religion helps us organize our personal and collective lives in the world.
  3. Meaning is fundamental to all religious systems. Religion helps us to make sense of the world and about who we are as human beings and residents of this planet.
  4. All religions promote a pedagogy of human relations and mutuality. Religion offers basic and transcendent principles and instructions to men and women on how to act toward one another.
  5. The essence of all faith traditions leads to a particular way of being in the world as human beings. Religion provides various ways to help people connect to each other and relate to their environment.
  6. Power is a common core of all religion. All religious traditions invoke power because power is a regulating force in the world, and it shapes human and social relations; religions that subscribe to theism believe that divine or supernatural power is greater than and more authoritative than any political authority or earthly power.
  7. Conformity is the way of integration and membership in all religious traditions. Religious conformity is associated with the tendencies and sensibilities of a particular tradition as they pertain to an agreeable and coherent religious belief, codes of conduct, behaviors, and manners for group membership and affiliation.
  8. The phenomenon of control belongs to all faith systems. The basic goal of religious codes of conduct and belief is to provide a guiding way to influence our rational and irrational behaviors and actions. Control, as a religious propriety, regulates our deficiencies, tendencies, and human and social relations, and control is important for achieving human flourishing and the common good in the world.
  9. Devotion is a fundamental characteristic of all faiths. Religion is profoundly about the way of devotion: devotion to a Supreme Being or Transcendent Force, and human beings mutually devoting themselves to one another.
  10. Human flourishing is a universal virtue of all religious traditions. While human flourishing is defined differently in all the major religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Yoruba Religion/Afro-derived religions in the African Diaspora, Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism) of the world, it is still the basic ethical philosophy of being pious, kind, compassionate, interpersonal, and relational in the world.

Two poems by Jacques Roumain, translated by Celucien Joseph

Two poems by Jacques Roumain, translated by Celucien Joseph

Poem # 1: “L’Aube” by Jacques Roumain, trans. by Celucien L. Joseph

…Adieu, voici l’aube, la froide lumière du réveil
—Demeure encore, les bagues d’un rayon du soleil
Jouent dans tes boucles et ton corps est doux à mes lèvres !
…Adieu, ami, voici l’aube, à chaque temps ses fièvres.
—Demeure encore, j’entends la pluie qui bat sur le toit :
Le matin est glacé par la tristesse qui tombe.
…Ce n’était sur les ardoises qu’un vol de colombes
Adieu, voici l’aube, je me souviendrai de toi.

“Dawn”

… Farewell, here is the dawn, the freezing light of awakening
—Still remains, the rings of a ray of the sun
Play in your curls, and your body is sweet to my lips!
… Farewell, friend, here is dawn, each time, its fevers.
—Still remains, I hear the rain pounding on the roof:
The morning is frozen with fallen sadness.
… It was only a flight of doves on the slates
Farewell, here is dawn, I will remember you.

Poem # 2: “Je Rêve que Je Rêve” by Jacques Roumain, trans. by Celucien L. Joseph

Tes mains fragiles sur mon visage
Mes larmes amères entre tes doigts
Te souviens-tu de la pluie tiède
Dans la chevelure des arbres tremblants
La nui venait, c’était une cendre
Bien douce sur les chagrins du jour
Mon front glacé dans la corbeille
De tes bras nus, ma joue, mes lèvres
Auprès des fruits secrets et chers
La lampe éteinte, nos ombres mêlées
Désir qui n’est, la paix qui naît ;
Tes lèvres, tes yeux ; des fleurs sur mon visage…

“I dream that I dream”

Your feeble hands on my face.
My bitter tears between your fingers,
Do you remember the tepid rain?
In the hair of the shivering trees
The night came; it was an ash,
Sweeter than the sorrows of the day.
My forehead freezes in the basket.
With your welcoming arms, my cheek, my lips
Near are the secret and precious fruits
The lamp obscured; our shadows shrouded.
Present is desire, the peace that is born.
Your lips, your eyes; flowers on my face…

I am Africa!

I am Africa!

I am an African lost in America.
Suppose the American government sends me back to Haiti, will mother Africa embrace me?

Suppose the Haitian government follows the same course of action against me, will Cameroon take me back?

Will Benin & Togo receive me?

Will Nigeria welcome me home?

Will they deny my ethnic and diverse African DNA?

Will they deny me of being their ancestral child?

Will they reject my African multi ethnic roots?

Will they ask me for a Blood Sample to verify the dark blood of the continent in my veins?

I am an African. 💘

“Rethinking the Caribbean:An Introductory Course on Caribbean Literature”

“Rethinking the Caribbean:
An Introductory Course on Caribbean Literature”IRSC Students: In Spring 2022, I will be teaching an exciting course: “Introduction to Caribbean Literature (Lit 2190);” we will follow the synchronous model (online), and the class will meet online on Tuesdays, from 5:30 PM-6:45 PM. This course is an exploration of Caribbean literature within the cultural context and historical events (i.e. slavery, colonization, imperialism) that have shaped the Caribbean nations and their people.

“Rethinking the Caribbean:
An Introductory Course on Caribbean Literature”

#IRSC Students: In Spring 2022, I will be teaching an exciting course: “Introduction to Caribbean Literature (Lit 2190);” we will follow the synchronous model (online), and the class will meet online on Tuesdays, from 5:30 PM-6:45 PM. This course is an exploration of Caribbean literature within the cultural context and historical events (i.e. slavery, colonization, imperialism) that have shaped the Caribbean nations and their people.

We will be reading novels, poetry, plays, and academic essays to inform our understanding of the birth and development of Caribbean literature, as well as to get a better perspective on issues relating to regional identity and culture, nationalism, postcolonialism, poverty, economic challenges, environmental issues, etc. The course will explore different theories of Caribbean Literature. We will be reading both classic and contemporary Caribbean writers and explore the major ideas of the Caribbean thinkers and theorists that have shaped our understanding of the Region and its literary expression.

Since this is a survey course, students will be introduced to the works of the most influential Caribbean writers, including Claude McKay, C. L. R. James, Aimé Césaire, Patrick Chamoiseau, Frantz Fanon, Earl Lovelace, Sylvia Wynter, Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Derek Walcott, George Lamming, Jean Rhys, Wilson Harris, Marie Vieux-Chauvet, René Philoctète, René Depestre, Edwidge Danticat, Myriam J.A. Chancy, Sam Selvon, Jean Price-Mars, Jacques Roumain, V.S. Naipaul, Jan Carew, Edouard Glissant, Maryse Condé, Paul Marshall, Antonio Benitez-Rojo, Nicolás Guillén, Junot Diaz, Julia Alvarez, Silvio Torres-Saillant, etc.

Required Texts for the Course:

  1. Allison Donnell and Sarah Lawrence Welsh, editors, “The Routledge Reader in Caribbean Literature, (Routledge, 1996). ISBN-13 ‏: ‎ 978-0415120494
  2. Edwidge Danticat, “The Farming of Bones” (Soho Press, 2013). ISBN-13 ‏: ‎ 978-1616953492
  • There will be several essays assigned and two films to watch.
    *The course is open to non-IRSC and transient students.

“The Beautiful Ones Are Yet to be Born: Rethinking Haiti’s Literary and Intellectual Traditions”

“The Beautiful Ones Are Yet to be Born: Rethinking Haiti’s Literary and Intellectual Traditions”

I am wrapping up a book review on Haiti for an academic journal. I admire the intellectual rigor and analytical approach of the book, and the writer is a friend. I appreciate the author’s scholarship, especially the significant contributions made to Haitian studies and Haitian literature. Overall, I agree with the general thesis of the book; yet I disagree with the author’s (mis-)interpretation of early nineteenth century Haitian literature and (mis-)representation of early nineteenth century Haitian intellectual history. For example, the writer construes the birth of Haitian literature not as a reaction to French (colonial and intellectual) detractors and Western racism, as well as a protest to the institution of slavery, imperialism, and French colonialism in Saint-Domingue-Haiti; rather, the author argues brilliantly and forcefully (and almost convincingly 😊) that Haitian literature developed in the context of a textual warfare among Haitian writers and intellectuals themselves. This position is integral to what I phrase the “national disunity” and “ideological discord” thesis prevalent in Anglophone scholarship on Haitian thought and literary production.

By any means am I suggesting that Haitian writers and intellectuals have produced a monolithic or homogeneous narrative about Haiti’s national history and intellectual productions since the birth of the state of Haiti (see my books, “From Toussaint to Price-Mars: Rhetoric, Race, and Religion in Haitian Thought” [2013], and “Revolutionary Change and Democratic Religion: Christianity, Vodou, and Secularism” [2020]). By contrary, one could say that Haitian literature is a literature of combat and protest within the Black Atlantic radical literary tradition, and that pluralism and difference in ideas and expression do not necessarily mean or lead to national disunity and intellectual conflict in the nation.

Further, in this excellent book, there is no mention of the birth of Haiti’s robust Patriotic literary tradition in the first half of the nineteenth century nor did the author address the blossoming of a rich intellectual heritage in the nineteenth century in Haiti that challenge the thesis of the book; both traditions anticipated and could be labelled in today’s academic jargons postcolonialism/postcoloniality and decolonialism/decoloniality, as well as anti-racist and anti-imperial. Nonetheless, the book is groundbreaking and well-researched, and I foresee it will generate many scholarly debates in the future. People should take the time to read carefully and responsibly the author’s basic premises and ideological presuppositions to really grasp the author’s bold claims and reading of the relationship between politics and literature in Haiti’s national history.

*** Good books and ideas have a special way to recreate a nation and regenerate citizens. Thus, (published) words on paper have to be written with care and sensibility because language is fragile and human beings are complex entities. The goal of writing is not to achieve fame and heighten one’s reputation in the world of academia. The implications of an idea or a piece of well-written work could produce monsters and good people in society, respectively. Literary and intellectual productions do have both a moral and an ethical aspect, as writers attempt to persuade, inform, entertain, and call people into action in society, as well as transform the order of things in the world so human beings can live peacefully, harmoniously, and in candid relations with each other. Ideas and written works should produce more beauty and sustain better relationships in the world.

In my review of the book, I tried to be ethically honest, charitable, and objective, not harsh and combative toward the writer nor the claims made in this beautifully-written and important text. I despise this model of scholarship that creates alienation and division among scholars and people. I cherish my friendship over ideas. I understand the fragility of losing friends because of competing ideas and perspectives. However, I believe that it is an ethical responsibility of a good and honest scholar and intellectual to refute dangerous and bad ideas that will drive people away from the truth and will not help foster the common good and human flourishing in the world. Also, I understand that ideas have consequences, and they are also both transformative in the negative sense and liberative in the positive sense. I wrote a 12-page-review of the book, which surpassed the required 1,500-word limit. I need to cut a lot of words. So, help me Lord Jesus Christ! 😊

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

*** On that day, I was still in College, following a course lecture: Introduction to New Testament II (If my memory is right?). It was my last semester in College to get my B.A. degree. I remember the entire school evacuated, and we were commanded to stand outside of our classrooms. Some of us went to the lawn, others in the street across the school. All classes were cancelled for the rest of the day. We were in shock. Anxiety overwhelmed us. Fear and terror shook our world and our existence. It was an awful day, a tragic moment. It seemed like things were falling apart; in fact, things did fall apart on that day.

Some of us went to the Chapel to cry and pray, and to be healed and restored; yet healing was not instantaneous because restoration of the soul, our inner being, could take days, months, even years. Sometimes, we experience death before healing; for some, death is the way to ultimate healing and the path to total restoration.

That was 20 yrs ago. I was a 23 yr-old young man.

Call for Papers: “Religions for Peace, Democracy, and Mutual Understanding: Vodou & Christianity in Interreligious Dialogue”

Call for Papers: “Religions for Peace, Democracy, and Mutual Understanding: Vodou & Christianity in Interreligious Dialogue”
by Drs. Celucien L. Joseph, Charlene Désir, and Lewis A. Clormeus (eds)

Extended Deadline: September 23, 2021

To learn more about this project, click on the link below:

https://haitithenandnow.wordpress.com/2021/07/03/call-for-papers-september-3-2021-religions-for-peace-democracy-and-mutual-understanding-vodou-and-christianity-in-interreligious-dialogue/