My Summer 2022 Reading List!

My Summer 2022 Reading List!

I enjoy reading widely, interdisciplinarily, or across the disciplines. People read for different reasons and reading coincides with the reader’s interest and disposition. My reasons for reading also vary. I read because I am intellectually curious and take pleasure in reading.  As an intellectual adventure, I read to learn so I can teach others and write with authority and rhetorical clarity and precision. Along this line of thought, I read to explore different worlds; to be exposed to different epistemologies and worldviews; to learn different perspectives about human ideas and actions; and to understand and know how people live, think, and interact with each other in the world. Reading allows me to travel intellectually and mentally to various places or locations where my body cannot go or where I cannot reach physically. Reading teaches me (and even forces me) how to have a disciplined life and to organize the life of the mind.

Usually, my book selection is from the Humanities (i.e., history, literature, religion, theology, anthropology). For summer 2022, I would like to improve my knowledge and understanding of the field of the natural sciences, which is divided into two distinct branches: life science and physical science, including biology, astronomy, chemistry, earth sciences, and physics. It is my pleasure to share with you my summer 2022 reading list; it includes eleven books this year: two books on human biology and chemistry; three books on physics and astronomy; one book on gender and religion (i.e., Biblical and Theological Studies); two books on literature/fiction (i.e., novels); one book on the history of the Bible in the United States; one book on (Evangelical) Christianity and the American culture; and one book on the relationship between Christianity and African-based religions in the Diaspora (i.e. the Caribbean Region).

  1. “Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries” by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  2. “The Body: A Guide for Occupants” by Bill Bryson
  3. “The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred” by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
  4. “Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe” by Robert Lanza with Bob Berman
  5. “The World According to Physics” by Jim Al-Khalili
  6. “Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth: A Novel” by Wole Soyinka
  7. “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois” by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
  8. “The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth” by Beth Allison Barr
  9. “Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation” by Kristin Kobes Du Mez
  10. “Les religions afro-caribéennes à la lumière de la foi chrétienne : Similitudes et différences ” by Dieumeme Noelliste and Mirlenda Noelliste
  11. “America’s Book: The Rise and Decline of a Bible Civilization, 1794-1911” by Mark A. Noll

I usually begin my summer reading in the first week of May. Suppose I do not complete my reading list in the summer season, I would attempt to finish reading the books in the fall semester.
I want to close this post with a question: Have you created your summer reading list yet?

*** Next week, I will share my recommended reading list for young people so they can enjoy some good books during this summer. Let us travel the world together through books and reading!

#Summer2022readinglist

#Happyreading

#Thepleasureofreading

“On Being an Immigrant: The Paradoxes and Advantages of a Multilingual Immigrant Writer and Multicultural Scholar”

“On Being an Immigrant: The Paradoxes and Advantages of a Multilingual Immigrant Writer and Multicultural Scholar”

The language I speak fluently is Kreyòl (some people prefer calling it “Haitian”), but with a Kapwa (Northern) accent. 😃

The language I write more comfortably in is English.

The language I understand with no hesitation is Kreyòl.

The language I am still trying to understand is French.

The language that will save me in time of trouble is more than one: Kreyòl, English, and French– in that order.

*I never try to be someone else that I am not, and I do not conflict my (primary) identity as a Haitian immigrant–though for many people, the immigrant identity is complex, constantly evolving, and in a state of mutation because of the process of encountering multiple cultures, ethnic groups, languages–living in a country (the U.S.A.) that welcomes me; yet its systems and structures force immigrants like me to assimilate in order to belong, achieve success, and even be recognized as a human being.

*Generally, (Haitian) linguists have proposed different pedagogical and linguistic models to help solve the language crisis in education in Haiti. The first proposal is to teach and educate Haitian school children in Kreyòl only. The second proposal is to find a balance between Kreyòl and French, Haiti’s two official languages, in the education and training of Haitian children. The third model is to improve the linguistic ability and fluency capability of Haitian children in the French language by emphasizing its full acquisition in Haiti’s schools. The final model is to expose Haitian school children to multiple languages, such as Kreyòl (the mother tongue), French, Kreyòl, Spanish, and English, in the acquisition process and linguistic fluency. While each one of the linguistic models and pedagogical approaches has its own advantages and disadvantages, I would suggest to maximize the Kreyòl language and to fully integrate the mother tongue of the Haitian people in schools and institutions in Haiti while not undermining the significance of global languages such as English, French, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Swahili, etc.in the education system in Haiti. Various studies by linguists and second language specialists have demonstrated that children have the ability/capability to learn multiple languages simultaneously. On the other hand, the Haitian education system has many shortcomings. It’s not doing an effective job in educating and training school children even in their maternal language; the education in the French language is not also effective in Haiti.

Happy Saturday, Good People!

#IAmAnImmigrant

“Love without a name”

I wrote a new poem and gave it a name “Love without a name”

“Love without a name”

Smiling stars fell down on earth
touched your heart and mine,
and united us as one.
Angels travelled 500 miles on bikes,
in the rain to witness a love without a name,
a feeling not bound by time,
nor by human limitation
A happy moon embraced us tenderly,
without care and hesitation.

Smiling stars fell down on earth
to give our life a fresh start.
Floating galaxies migrated to where love is king,
the place passion is queen.
Reading our palm, they sealed our destiny,
the way the Divine conceives it.
You are the moon of the future
I am the sun of the present.
You, the protector of my garden,
I, the candle of life.
We are the infinity with no constraints,
loyal love of spring bloom.

Smiling stars fell down on earth
to witness our union
eternity became half
our feet moved forward
one step, two steps,
one hundred dancers in the ballroom,
and two became one.
Life is behind us,
delighting in the lust of our flesh.
These two, united together, became a world.
The moment stood still,
no idea about the hurdles ahead of us
It is love without a name.

I wrote a new poem and gave it a name “Love without a name”

“Love without a name”

Smiling stars fell down on earth
touched your heart and mine,
and united us as one.
Angels travelled 500 miles on bikes,
in the rain to witness a love without a name,
a feeling not bound by time,
nor by human limitation
A happy moon embraced us tenderly,
without care and hesitation.

Smiling stars fell down on earth
to give our life a fresh start.
Galaxies migrated to where love is king,
the place passion is queen.
Reading our palm, they sealed our destiny,
the way the Divine conceives it.
You are the moon of the future
I am the sun of time.
You, the protector of my garden,
I, the candle of life.
We are the infinity with no constraints,
loyal love of spring bloom.

Smiling stars fell down on earth
to witness our union
eternity became half
our feet moved forward
one step, two steps,
one hundred dancers in the ballroom,
and two became one.
Life is behind us,
delighting in the lust of our flesh.
These two, united together, became a world.
The moment stood still,
no idea about the hurdles ahead of us
It is love without a name.

one hundred dancers in the ballroom,
and two became one.
Life is behind us,
delighting in the lust of our flesh.
These two, united together, became a world.
The moment stood still,
no idea about the hurdles ahead of us
It is love without a name.

“Haiti’s Pact with the Devil: The Human Sacrifice at Bois Caiman Vodou Ceremony and the Evangelical Interpretation”

“Haiti’s Pact with the Devil: The Human Sacrifice at Bois Caiman Vodou Ceremony and the Evangelical Interpretation”

I believe the idea of “pact” in Haitian history has two aspects: one is spiritual; the other is non-spiritual. I believe the African slaves made a “non-spiritual but a historical pact” (they came to a consensus and made a decisive determination) with each other to end slavery and to be freed from colonialism and slavery. The spiritual pact is a complex one because it is based primarily on oral traditions (I am not saying that oral traditions are not reliable or should not be trusted), and it is not easy to verify the historical credibility of the spiritual pact.

Interestingly, the spiritual pact has been interpreted differently in Haiti’s religious communities. Haitian Vodouizan have their own interpretation, and Haitian Protestants/Evangelicals have their own. For example, I have heard from many Haitian Christians and pastors while travelling on mission trips to Haiti that the Africans made a pact with the devil at the Bois Caiman event (This is not just a Pat Robertson’s declaration!) I have a cousin of mine who is a Christian Pastor in Haiti; one day he said to me “Toutou”/”Puppy” (That is my nickname”), you do know our ancestors made a pact with the devil. He said that to me in more than one occasions while I was in Haiti visiting my family and friends. He also said that Jean-Baptiste Vixamar LeGrand was the sacrifice at the Bois Caiman event of August 1791. He also believes there was also a pig sacrifice at Bois Caiman, but Vixamar was the real, historical, and most important sacrifice to Haiti’s Vodou lwa.

I have also heard from many other Haitian Christian pastors and lay people, both in Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora, that the African slaves made a pact with the devil. In fact, in 2016, my wife and I were at a Christian service (Sunday morning) at a local church in Fort Pierce (Florida) where we live. The “guest preacher” on that Sunday was a Haitian pastor from Haiti, whom I personally know. In his sermon, he declared that the Africans made a pact with the devil, and that Haitian Christians need to take Haiti back to God. The whole church shouted Amen. My wife and I looked at each other and got very angry. I wanted to leave the service at that moment, but my wife encouraged me to stay. So, I submitted to her will. Interestingly, the incident took place at a “white church” that supports this particular pastor’s work/ministry in Haiti.

I have heard the story of the “human sacrifice” at Bois Caiman from the lips of many prominent Haitian Hougan and Mambo, and Free Maxons (i.e., BILOLO KONGO, Toussaint Lova, MALOLO KABA) that the African slave “Jean-Baptiste Vixamar LeGrand” voluntarily gave himself up to be sacrificed in other for the slaves at Saint-Domingue to be free and independent. In other words, Vixamar is the “Christ” of the Bois Caiman Event or the Haitian Revolution itself. For those who are interested in the human sacrifice at Bois Caiman, check out these selected videos below:

  1. LE JESUS CHRIST HAITIEN (JEAN BAPTISTE VIXAMAR), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AC5TryBiiDw
  2. Jn Baptiste Vixamar Legrand. Le Cochon du bois kay Inman, https://youtu.be/MTDPl8_rXQM
  3. Reyalité sou Jan Batis Viksama LeGran é Chalmay Peral/Reyalité sou Duvalier, https://youtu.be/vDu0f8ZwnPc

Essay (s)

“La cérémonie du Bois Caïman: les grandes phases de la construction d’un fait historique” by Clermont Maudler, https://www.academia.edu/11760326/La_c%C3%A9r%C3%A9monie_du_Bois_Ca%C3%AFman_les_grandes_phases_de_la_construction_dun_fait_historique

***There are other interviews in which Vodouizan made the explicit claim about Vixamar as the “sacrifice” at Bois Caiman.

“What Christians Believe: Some Basic Elements about the Resurrection of Jesus”

“What Christians Believe: Some Basic Elements about the Resurrection of Jesus”

For many individuals, the resurrection of Jesus is a myth just like the Greco-Roman myths of old. Others see it as a religious fable, a folktale, an invention of the early Christians such as Peter, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, etc. Other critics state that Jesus is a creation of the early Christians and that there was no historical person named Jesus the way Christians present him to the world or talk about the existence of a real Jesus in the Bible and church traditions.

By contrast, for Christians around the world, Jesus was not only existed as a human being; he is present or real in their life today. The majority of Christians around the world also believe the resurrection of Jesus is one of the top historical pieces of evidence that proves the existence of God, and comparatively, they believe the physical resurrection of Jesus is what makes Christianity what it is, that is, its association with Jesus’ divine origin and same nature as Yahweh, the creator God of the universe and all human beings. In this non-technical post, I would like to reflect upon some basic elements about the resurrection and what the majority of Christians believe about it.

  1. THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS WAS PHYSICAL. According to the Bible, the traditions of the Christian church, and the followers of the individuals who knew Jesus and walked with him while he was alive, Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the grave. They believed that the act of raising from the tomb was not a spiritual resurrection; rather, it was a physical resurrection.
  2. THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS WAS HISTORICAL. The resurrection of Jesus is presented as a historical event. According to many individuals who knew Jesus before his death, this same Jesus who was crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected showed himself to them on the third day. They also said that the resurrected Jesus talked to them, allowed them to touch his body, appeared to many individuals who are known as eyewitnesses, and even ate with them in group. These same individuals stated that the resurrected Jesus was not a ghost, an angel, a spiritual being, or an illusion. According to their reports, the resurrected Jesus was a real person, a human being with physical features and bodily parts.
  3. THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS WAS SUPERNATURAL. These same individuals also declared that the resurrection of Jesus was both a historical event and a faith-based event. By the integrating the idea of “faith” in their understanding of the physical resurrection of Jesus, they believed that God worked a miracle, that is, something extraordinary and unnatural, by raising Jesus from the dead by his power. In other words, they established a relationship between faith and divine power, physical resurrection and divine miracle. This kind of faith is not historical, but supernatural; yet the historicity of the physical resurrection required a supernatural intervention. In other words, faith in a God that can raise people from the dead validated the physical resurrection of Jesus–a human being. God raised Jesus from the dead by his power!
  4. Thus, the resurrection of Jesus means and accomplishes many things.

a) First, it demonstrates that God can use his power effectively to do the unexpected, such as bringing to life a dead person, for example, Jesus who was also dead but God raised him from the dead; Lazarus, Jesus’ friend, who was also dead, but God through Jesus raised him from the dead.

b) Second, the resurrection also shows that all religious beliefs require human connection with the divine, as well as the proximity or presence of God with human beings. God is not far from us; he is near and present where human beings are present or live.

c) Third, the resurrection is a supernatural phenomenon that invites reasonable faith and belief in a powerful God.

d) Finally, the resurrection shows the fragility of human nature and the weakness of human beings. According to Christian belief in the resurrection, because God is not a human being, he is strong and has power over death and the forces of darkness.

  1. These same individuals in the Bible (the New Testament), the first Christians, and early church reports and traditions constructed a new understanding of Jesus and his identity. What did they say exactly about Jesus’ identity and his deeds after the resurrection.

a) The writers of the New Testament and the early Christian thinkers and writers (i.e. church fathers) reinterpreted the teachings and deeds of Jesus in light of his new identity and in connection to the significance of the historical resurrection.

b) They believed because God raised Jesus from the dead, God also approved the teachings and works of Jesus while he was alive. In other words, Jesus was a man attested by God. The resurrection was a sign of divine satisfaction about the life and person of Jesus of Nazareth. God was pleased about Jesus’ character and how Jesus lived, treated people, and taught people about God.

c) Because of the resurrection, they exalted Jesus to a divine status and believed that Jesus was the “Anointed One,” the Jewish Messiah. Yet these same individuals gave a divine identity to the Jewish Messiah whom they said was Jesus.

d) Because of the resurrection, the early Christians worshipped Jesus the Christ the same way they used to worship God/Yahweh, and used divine titles and attributes they traditionally applied to Yahweh to Jesus.

e) Because of the resurrection, they began to read/reread more carefully about what Jesus really said before his death and investigated the supernatural connection of his sayings and works, such as his miraculous and exorcist activities, with the works and sayings of God of the Hebrew Scriptures/Yahweh.

f) As a result, they said only a God-like person could perform such supernatural works and say things only God could say. Yet these same individuals argued that while Jesus was fully human, he was more than a super hero; in fact, they believed that Jesus was God himself (they did not say it like that though. They used different literary techniques, technical concepts, writing strategies, and ideological concepts to establish Jesus’ divine origin) For example, before his death, the writers of the New Testament and early church fathers wrote many things about Jesus, including the following:

  1. Jesus offered people eternal life and salvation; he forgave people’s sins;
  2. Jesus said that God was his father and he was the Son of God–not in the sense that God was his biological son, but in the sense of he possessing the same nature like God or at least, having a direct connection with God like no other human being on earth–, making himself the Son of God;
  3. Jesus said that he and God are one–not in the sense that God is in all of us or God’s presence is forever with human beings–; rather, Jesus was declaring that he possessed the same divine identity like God and like God, he is also God;
  4. Jesus calmed heavy winds and told people exactly what was in their hearts. There are many other things the writers of the New Testament and church traditions said Jesus did and said. I have to be selective in this post.

However, both ancient and modern magicians and religious prophets do/did quite a few things like Jesus, and even make/made similar declarations like Jesus. What makes Jesus different than these miracles workers, houngan, mambo, magicians, medicine men? According to the writers of the New Testament and the writings of the church fathers, there were at least five things:

  1. The physical resurrection of Jesus sealed the messianic identity and divine origin of Jesus. According to the Gospel and ecclesiastical traditions, the resurrection established the deity of Jesus and proved that Jesus existed as God before he became a human being. This is called the doctrine of the pre-existence of Christ in Christian theology.
  2. Jesus’ exclusive and absolute claims of his divine origin or essence, having the same nature and equal power with God to forgive sin and raise people from the dead, and to save people from sins and give them eternal life.
  3. Jesus’ exclusive claim that he is the “only way” to God. Jesus’ exclusive claim he is “the truth” and “life” itself. Jesus’ exclusive claim that he is the resurrection and life, and that he existed before Abraham was born.
  4. The recognition of Jesus of his divine status and messianic self-consciousness linked to his messianic mission as God’s special emissary in the world.
  5. Jesus’ own prophecy about his death, burial, and resurrection.
  6. Jesus transforms people’s lives and make individuals better citizens and human beings.

Conclusion: Whether you believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus, Jesus’ deity, or doubted the historical existence of the historical Jesus, it matters how you live your life in the moment and the time to come. Your choice is a personal one. For many Christians, however, the resurrection of Jesus secures their hope in the time to come and guarantees their salvation in God. Christians believe that the resurrection is the gift for all people just like Jesus is God’s universal gift to humanity.

Happy Resurrection Day!

“3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born…

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 15:3-8, 12-19, 55-56

Vodou and Films: Some Recommendations

Vodou and Films: Some Recommendations

A friend of mine who will be teaching a class on Vodou and Films in the fall semester 2022 has asked me for some recommendations. I would like to share my suggestions with you, Good people!

I. Vodou Anthology/ies

There are only two anthologies/readers in the English language on Haitian Vodou: the influential two volumes Patrick Bellegarde-Smith and Claudine Smith coedited (Arguably, this is “The Classic Anthology” on Haitian Vodou), and the two-volume texts that Nixon Cleophat and I coedited. Both volumes were published in 2016 by Lexington Books; here are the titles:

• Vodou in Haitian Memory: The Idea and Representation of Vodou in Haitian Imagination by Celucien L. Joseph by Nixon S. Cleophat
• Vodou in the Haitian Experience: A Black Atlantic Perspective by Celucien L. Joseph and Nixon S. Cleophat

***You would appreciate the gender and performative components, as well as the intellectual and historical aspects of my books.

II. Films/Documentaries on Vodou:

The films and documentaries that I recommend below were done both in Haiti and Africa; in that way, you would gain a valuable perspective, that is, the African and Haitian perspective on Vodou.

• “Divine Horsemen – The Living Gods of Haiti” (51 minutes: 1993) directed by Maya Deren, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tla44ZDyZs
“The Living Gods of Haiti is a documentary film about dance and possession in Haitian vodou that was shot by experimental filmmaker Maya Deren between 1947 and 1952 and edited and completed by Deren’s third husband Teiji Ito and his wife Cherel.”
• “Voodoo Mounted by the gods” (1 hr 12:2012): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bLJqMANCI0&t=1334s
“A documentary directed by famous switzerland photographer Alberto Venzago. He has been shooting for 10 years a child who was chosen to become a voodoo priest. Mighty and sublime film produced by Wim Wenders, written by Kit Hopkins and music by Jochen Schmidt-Hambrock.”
• “Voodoo (full documentary)” by New Atlantis Full Documentaries (53:03 minutes:2013) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtKpkm7xYi8
• “Voodoo Mysteries | Full Documentary” by Planet Doc Full Documentaries (52: 05 minutes: 2014), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFzbDDnaZWo
• “Voodoo in Togo” by African History Documentary (35:14 minutes: 2019), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibJ_bPb4jOQ

***

  • Reza Aslan, BELIEVER (CNN)- episode on Vodou
  • WHITE ZOMBIE (1932)
  • THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (1988)

III. Top Books on Haitian Vodou in the English Language

Below, I recommend some of the most important books (19 books in total), written in the English language, that explore Haitian Vodou in its complexity, as well as its multidimensional and interdisciplinary aspects.

  1. Voodoo and Politics in Haiti by Michel S. Laguerre
  2. Faces of the Gods: Vodou and Roman Catholicism in Haiti by Leslie G. Desmangles
  3. Secrets of Voodoo by Milo Rigaud
  4. Haitian Vodou: Spirit, Myth, and Reality edited by Patrick Bellegarde-Smith and Claudine Michel
  5. Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture: Invisible Powers edited by Patrick Bellegarde-Smith and Claudine Michel
  6. Vodou in Haitian Memory: The Idea and Representation of Vodou in Haitian Imagination edited by Celucien L. Joseph by Nixon S. Cleophat
  7. Vodou in the Haitian Experience: A Black Atlantic Perspective edited by Celucien L. Joseph and Nixon S. Cleophat
  8. Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti by Maya Deren and Joseph Campbell
  9. The Spirits and the Law: Vodou and Power in Haiti by Kate Ramsey
  10. Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn by Karen McCarthy Brown and Claudine Michel
  11. Revolutionary Change and Democratic Religion: Christianity, Vodou, and Secularism by Celucien L. Joseph
  12. Rara! Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and Its Diaspora by Elizabeth McAlister
  13. Vodou Nation: Haitian Art Music and Cultural Nationalism by Michael Largey
  14. Spirit Possession in French, Haitian, and Vodou Thought: An Intellectual History by Alessandra Benedicty-Kokken
  15. A Transatlantic History of Haitian Vodou: Rasin Figuier, Rasin Bwa Kayiman, and the Rada and Gede Rites by Benjamin Hebblethwaite
  16. Nan Domi: An Initiate’s Journey into Haitian Vodou”by Mimerose Beaubrun
  17. Vodou Songs in Haitian Creole and English by Benjamin Hebblethwaite
  18. Haiti, History, and the Gods by Joan Dayan
  19. The Vodou Ethic and the Spirit of Communism: The Practical Consciousness of the African People of Haiti by Paul Mocombe
  20. Dancing Spirits: Rhythms and Rituals of Haitian Vodun by Gerdès Fleurant
  21. The Drums of Vodou, by Lois Wilcken with Frisner Augustin

In my opinion , “Nan Domi: An Initiate’s Journey into Haitian Vodou” by Mimerose Beaubrun is one of the top books on the deep spiritual dimensions of Haitian Vodou.

“God and Women in Genesis 1:26-28: Rereading the Creation Narrative from a Feminist Perspective”

“God and Women in Genesis 1:26-28:
Rereading the Creation Narrative from a Feminist Perspective”

Genesis 1:26-28
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

The Hebrew word in Genesis 1:26 and 27 that translates as “mankind” in the English language refers, in the most literal sense, to both genders: male and female—what some Hebrew scholars and theologians have called the “natural genders,” and for others the “natural sexes.” Thus, as many students of Scripture already know, mankind should be best rendered as humanity or human beings in English. I do, however, would like to consider a simple question: what if we were to read these three verses of Genesis 1 (26-28) from a feminist and womanist perspective. Let us consider these additional pertinent questions:

  1. What difference the feminist lens would make in our understanding of the relationships between men and women in the world?
  2. Would a feminist rereading of this passage lead to a rejection to the traditional gender hierarchy?
  3. Would a feminist rereading of this text lead to a complementarian perspective about gender roles and functions?
  4. How shall this rereading change the way we “define” women and “understand” their roles, functions, and contributions in the world?
  5. What if we were to replace each reference to “mankind/humankind/human beings” in these texts with the word “women”?
  6. What if we were to interpret each (textual) allusion or echo to “mankind/human/human beings” in this passage as a reference to women?

*** In the Hebrew text, the word is not “women” (plural) but “woman” (singular). For the sake of rhetorical force and linguistic reconceptualization, I would like to use the plurality (women) instead of the singularity (woman) in my analysis below. Let us try this interpretive exercise below:

• God created women in his image and likeness.
• God gave women power and ability to rule over the fish in the seas (natural sciences).
• God gave women power and ability to rule over the birds in the sky (natural sciences).
• God gave women power and ability to rule over the livestock.
• God gave women power and ability to rule over all the wild animals.
• God gave women power and ability to rule over all the creatures that move along the ground.
• God blessed women, and God spoke to “the woman” directly and clearly.
• God gave women power and ability to increase in number.
• God gave women power and ability to subdue the earth.
• To be created in the image of God is to have freedom, critical thinking, imagination, and intelligence, as well as resistance to struggle against all forces of human oppression and evil.
• Hence, by creating women in his own image, God gave women freedom, critical thinking, imagination, and intelligence. God also equipped women to reject and fight against all forms of human oppression, abuse, and evil.
• By creating women in his own image, God ordained women to be his representative in the world, to be his agents in the cosmos, and to reflect his communicable qualities, virtues, and attributes in the universe.

In conclusion, from creation, God has empowered women by giving them natural abilities, intrinsic freedom, natural authority, and natural intelligence to create order in society; to administer laws and justice in society; to exercise dominion and control over the natural world; to make the world liveable and functional; to lead and rule over all things in the world; and to create harmony and coherence in the cosmos. According to this text, the power of woman encompasses everything in the world because God has created her to be his agent or ambassador in the world. In other words, the art of governance, administration, and leadership are divine gifts and abilities extended to the woman gender. Literally and originally, I am arguing that the passage of Genesis 1:26-28, both directly and indirectly, suggests that God has called women to govern, administer, and to lead, as well as to perform different roles and functions in both public and private places, such as at home, in society, in government offices, in sacred spaces such as ecclesiastical settings (in churches).

Special Guest at “Sak Pase St Lucie”

I was the special guest of the wonderful and tireless Dr. Maggie Remy’s “Sak Pase,” a TV program of the St Lucie County Schools designed to reach the Haitian Community in the Treasure Coast. Dr. Remy and I talked about the importance of education and particularly the “Promise” Program which Indian River State College (Fort Pierce, Florida) just launched to provide free College tuition to High school students in the area.

**This informative program is especially helpful for Haitian parents and High school students.

“Brief Notes on Haitian Atheism, Radicalism, and Marxism”

“Brief Notes on Haitian Atheism, Radicalism, and Marxism”“Brief Notes on Haitian Atheism, Radicalism, and Marxism”

***This post is not an attack on Mr. Kerby’s atheism or philosophical worldview! However, as a Haitian intellectual historian and religious scholar who has published prolifically on the history of ideas in Haiti and the experience of the Haitian people with religion, I seek to bring some clarification on the subject matter.

Haiti has a strong (theistic) humanist tradition, which can be traced in the early nineteenth century, such as in the ideas and writings, for example, of Haitian public intellectual Pompée Valentin Vastey. Haiti, nonetheless, does not have an atheistic tradition or a non-theistic humanist tradition.

Ismael de Kerby, the President of “Society of Atheists of Haiti” (“President de la Société des Athées d’Haiti”), is quite an articulate Haitian thinker and well-versed in the history of ideas of Western atheism, but he is ignorant of the history of ideas in Haiti and the history of Haitian radicalism. In his superb interview on Blocus, he referenced the ideas of Jacques Roumain, one of the most influential Haitian thinkers in the first half of the twentieth-century, to promote his philosophy and worldview of Haitian theism. In 1934 when the American military forces left Haiti, Jacques Roumain founded the Haitian Communist Party (Le Parti Communiste Haïtien: PCH) and spread enthusiastically the Gospel of Marxism and Communism as promising future possibilities in the Haitian society. Roumain had exercised a profound intellectual influence on the emerging Haitian intellectuals, including Marxist thinkers and communist-militants René Depestre, Jacques-Stéphen Alexis, Christian Beaulieu, Max Lélio Hudicourt, etc. In 1932, both Roumain and Beaulieu travelled to New York to forge alliance with the American Communist Party and to find resources to help them launch PCH in Haiti in 1934. Hudicourt, for example, was the leader of the Parti Socialiste Populaire (Haiti) (PSP). Gérald Bloncourt helped launch a journal, “La Ruche” (“The Beehive”) in Haiti and published many Marxist-themed pieces for the Haitian public. He also worked for the Parisian Communist Party newspaper called L’Humanité (“Humanity”).

Haitian radicalism is not a substitute for Haitian atheism or non-theistic Humanism. For two recent and brilliant texts on the history of Marxism in Haiti and Haitian radicalism in the twentieth-century, see Jean-jacques Cadet, “Le Marxisme Haïtien : Marxisme et Anticolonialisme en Haïti (1946-1986)” (2020), “Marxisme et aliénation. Cinq études sur le marxisme haïtien” (2021), and Yves Dorestal, “Jacques Roumain (1907-1944) : un communiste haïtien : Le marxisme de Roumain ou le commencement du marxisme en Haïti” (2015). Additional readings include Matthew J. Smith’s grounbreaking book on Haitian radicalism and Marxism, “Red & Black in Haiti: Radicalism, Conflict, and Political Change, 1934-1957” (2009); Leslie Péan’s helpful essay, “Du côté de la liberté – Christian Beaulieu,” published in Le Petit Samedi Soir, no. 320, 12-18 (Janvier 1980); René Depestre, “Cahier d’un art de vivre: Journal de Cuba, 1964-1978” (2020) ; Wilson Decembre, “Vitalité et spiritualité: Apologie du rapport-au-monde afro-haïtien” (2009), and “Cosmopoétique : La symbolique païenne dans l’œuvre de René Depestre”(2022).

I am arguing that one cannot ground the birth of Haitian atheism in the ideas and writing of Jacques-Roumain. Although Jacques Roumain was a classic Marxist and radical Communist, he was not an atheist nor a non-theistic humanist. (Many contemporary Haitian intellectuals today are exploiting the ideas of Jacques Roumain to promote a non-theistic philosophy in the Haitian culture. This is a profound misreading of Roumain and his works! I have dealt with the religious sensibilities and intellectual, radical, and philosophical ideas of Jacques Roumain in a BIG book called “Thinking in Public: Faith, Secular Humanism, and Development in Jacques Roumain [496 pages; published in 2017]).

Further, some of the most brilliant and influential Haitian thinkers including Pompée Valentin Vastey, Thomas Madiou, Benito Sylvain, Joseph Antenor Firmin, Demesvar Delorme, Louis Joseph Janvier, Jean Price-Mars, Jacques Roumain, Jacques-Stephen Alexis, Marie-Vieux Chauvet and many others were not “atheists;” rather, these thinkers and many others in the twentieth-century embraced a form of “theistic humanism” and “soft secularism.” These Haitian thinkers (Vastey, Firmin, Roumain, Price-Mars, Alexis, Vieux) did not commit themselves to any religion, creed, or dogma—including Haitian Catholicism, Haitian Protestantism, Haitian Vodou, etc.—nor did they identify themselves specifically with a particular religious tradition or system. For example, Roumain, Price-Mars, and Alexis wrote about Haitian Vodou and even defended its significance in Haitian history and the Haitian society. Yet they were not Vodouizan or Vodouists, in the very sense of the word. All of them were brought in Christian families—both Catholicism and Protestantism—yet they were not “Christians.”

In summary, the Haitian thinkers referenced above did not set an intellectual foundation to promote contemporary Haitian atheism, nor should their writings and ideas be used or misused to counter theism. Those who are advocates of Haitian atheism today need to reshape their arguments and engage in more careful exegetical reading or critical analysis of the ideas these Haitian thinkers sustained in regard to the intersections of faith, humanism, and the Haitian culture. By any means am I saying that there is not an intellectual, humanist, and Marxist foundation for Haitian atheism based on the writings and ideas of Haitian thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. By contrast, I am arguing that contemporary Haitian atheists should not reference the writings and ideas of the referenced thinkers, especially Jacques Roumain, the most radical thinker in Haitian history, to promote the philosophy and worldview of atheism. Haiti has produced a catalogue of ardent theistic humanists, a tradition they inherited from European humanism, especially France’s humanist culture.

The Eleven Major Branches of Haitian Studies

The Eleven Major Branches of Haitian Studies:

  1. Haitian Revolution Scholarship
  2. The Haitian Religion (Vodou scholarship)
  3. Haitian Literature and Literacy Criticism
  4. Haitian Political History
  5. Haitian Diplomatic Relations (i.e., France, England, U.S.A., Canada)
  6. Haitian (Visual) Art and Cinematography
  7. Haitian Language/Linguistics (Kreyòl Sudies)
  8. Haitian Feminist and Women’s Scholarship
  9. Haitian Catholic and Protestant Studies
  10. Haitian Ethnology and Sociology
  11. Haitian Health Studies