“Haiti, God, and Tradition”

“Haiti, God, and Tradition”

Haiti has a long humanist tradition, whose origin can be traced to the first half of the nineteenth century. This particular Haitian humanist tradition affirms both theism and agnosticism; while the former dominates Haitian intellectual production at that period, evidence for the latter is best observed in the various ways Haitian writers and thinkers discuss the Haitian predicament, what many have called “la crise haitienne,” in Haitian literature and sociology. We see the continuity of this way of thinking about human life in general and theism in specific in the works of young Haitian intellectuals of the American occupation, and Jacques Stephen Alexis reinforces the Haitian humanist tradition in his writing.

However, the Vodouist tradition in Haiti as an intellectual tradition began to blossom in the second half of the twentieth-century. While the intellectuals of the American occupation reimagined the importance of Haitian Vodou in the Haitian experience, they did not lay the foundation for the Vodouist tradition.

Interestingly, the robust Marxist tradition that began in the first half of the twentieth century in Haiti is not against theism or anti-religion, but it challenges vodouphobic discourse and anti-Haitianism.

Finally, Haiti does not have a strong theological tradition (“written texts”) that looks at big theological concerns of modern times from a Haitian perspective. However, Haiti has a rich religious tradition that takes into account the Haitianization of religious practices and Christianity in the Haitian context. Yet the rich folkloric (especially folktales, songs, orature) tradition (“non-written texts”) haitianize theology and the big questions of theology, including God and the problem of evil in the world, the problem of sin in the world, the presence of God in the world, God and the kingdom of darkness, the nature of human beings, the church as the people of God, eschatology, etc. As a practice,Β  it’s good to note in passing that those who “theologize in Haitian” are not professional theologians with academic degrees in the discipline of theology or Biblical Studies. Haitian novelists, poets, and anthropologists represent a distinctive voice in theological discourse through the creative domain and ethnological reports.

45 is here!

45 has arrived in this young man’s dwelling place. If you can’t see my eyes in those pictures, it is simply 45 brings me an alternative vision of life and a different way of being in the world with a double sight πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜‚ 😁

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
— Moses, Psalm 90

“A Man of God”

Somebody wrote a message to me and greeted me as “Man of God.” This is a terrifying and quite intimidating title for me or for anyone to bear. It carries a certain moral imperative, even an ethical responsibility in the world, which I am unworthy to fulfill.

In the Judeo-Christian Tradition and words of Prophet Ezekiel, the man of God is a “watchman” who lives in-between the world of the sacred and the world of the profane, the sphere of the Holy One and the unholy ones, and one who carries out the divine message to human beings, and the concerns of human beings and cares of this world to God.

“On Haiti and Intellectual Biography”

I wrote two intellectual biographies on two influential Haitian political activists and thinkers: Jacques Roumain and Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

I am currently completing the third one on my all-time-favorite Haitian thinker: Jean Price-Mars (under contract with Vanderbilt University Press). I hope to get it done by the end of the year. I have been working on this biography on Price-Mars for the past 10 years. I published my first academic article on Price-Mars in 2012: “The Religious Philosophy of Jean Price-Mars” (Journal of Black Studies, 43(6), 620–645.)

Good People: I am pleased to inform you that I just submitted two completed manuscripts to the publishers for two important volumes on the complex relationships between Christianity and Vodou in Haiti, which I had the pleasure to serve as the general and co-editor; they are titled “Vodou and Christianity in Interreligious Dialogue” (Wipf and Stock Publishers), and “Evangelicals, Catholics, and Vodouyizan in Haiti” (Bloomsbury Publishing).

Yet the book I really want to write is a history of Protestant Christianity in Haiti. I will turn 45 years old in two days: March 6 and I pray earnestly for the good and sovereign Lord to continue guiding me and granting me strength, clarity, wisdom, and favor to do the research and writing for this important project.

“Me and my Favorite Women Novelists”

“Me and My Favorite Women Novelists”

There are four women novelists that I would like to take a creative writing class with or a writing workshop: Toni Morrison (if she were alive), Edwidge Danticat, Myriam J.A. Chancy, and Alice Walker. If anybody is going to train me in the art of writing a novel, I want it to be them πŸ˜…πŸ˜„πŸ₯°

In more than one occasion, I had the pleasure to teach their work in my literature classes. There are four central themes which bring all these four women writers in conversation: (1) the way they humanize the life of ordinary women and the marginalized groups in society in their fiction; (2) their work is grounded on an ethic of care, empathy, and human compassion; (3) their writing exalts human dignity and the triumph of hope in the midst of despair and chaos; and (4) the significance of religion and spirituality in shaping the human experience and guiding human relationships.