Here’s the conceptual framework about the book I have always wanted to write; or if I can not write it myself, I will be delighted to serve as the chief editor and make a call for papers. I am interested working with theologians, historians, religious scholars, literary scholars, social scientists, anthropologists, practitioners, peace and justice activists, etc.
“Toward an Interfaith Dialogue and Understanding: Vodou and Christianity in a Conceptual and Practical Framework” by Celucien L. Joseph, PhD
Table of Contents
Introduction: Rethinking the Meaning of Faith, Traditions, and Human Practices: Why Writing this Book on Vodou and Christianity?
Chapter 1: The Genesis of both Religious Traditions
Chapter 2: Creating Meaning and Divine Connection: The Spirituality of Vodou and Christianity
Chapter 3: The God Who Is: The Concept of God in Christianity and Vodou
Chapter 4: My Spirit Shall Guide You: The World of the Lwa and the Spirit of the World
Chapter 5: Master of the Crossroads and Light of the World: Jesus and Legba in Conversation
Chapter 6: How Shall We live? Vodou and Christian Ethics, and Human Relations
Chapter 7: Representation and Identity: Gender, Race, and Class in Christianity and Vodou
Chapter 8: Reconnecting the Present and the Past: Vodou and Christianity in African History and the African Diasporic Experience
Chapter 9: Public Faith: The Cause of Participatory Democracy and Social Change
Chapter 10: Creating a Better World: A Call to Interreligious Dialogue and Understanding
Chapter 11: Common Objections to Vodou and Christianity
***For me, if a (the principles and practices of a religion) religion cannot enhance our democracy, lead to social and political change, & improve human relations, we need to rethink about its relevance and meaning in both civil and political societies.
“For Haiti, for the Ancestors: A Poem for National Renewal and Ecological Rehabilitation”
In 1839, the brilliant Haitian poet and storyteller Ignace Nau (1808-1845), published an impressive lyrical poem that exhibits thick patriotic zeal and affectionate Haitian nationalism. In the poem, “Dessalines, à ce nom, amis, découvrons nous” (“Dessalines! . . . At that name, doff hats, my friends!”), Nau pays homage to the founding father Jean-Jacques Dessalines, whose effective leadership and military genius guided the Indigenist army (the name of the African military that fought the army of the French Empire in 1803) to emancipate the enslaved African population from chattel slavery and the French colonial system toward freedom and independence. In the poem, Ignace Nau, writing with a sense of high optimism toward the new and young nation of Haiti (that was only 35 years old!) and the new citizens of this great land, imagined the possibility of ecological rebirth and national restoration in his native land of Haiti. He foresaw the blossoming of a new ecology and the restoration of the country’s natural resources and beauty. The colonial conquest and wrongful domination of nature in Haiti had deferred the growth of the country’s flora and non-human creations. Chattel slavery and the colonial system had brought a curse on nature. Below, I share this stanza with you:
“—Oh! Demain le soleil se lèvera plus plur Et plus majestueux dans sa courbe d’azur! L’oiseau nous chantera des chants d’amour encore, La voix de nos forêts redeviendra sonore, Et nos fleuves taris jailliront en torrents, Et nos lacs rouleront des flots plus transparents, Et toi, peuple héroïque, et toi, mon beau génie, Demain vous saluerez une ere d’harmonie!”
“Oh! Tomorrow the sun will rise more! And more majestic in its azure curve! The bird will sing us love songs again, The voice of our forests will become sound again, And our rivers will flow out in torrents, And our lakes will roll more transparent streams, And you, heroic people, and you, my beautiful genie, Tomorrow, you will greet an era of harmony!
In 1839, in his patriotic verse, the great Haitian writer Ignace Nau sang loudly “Ayiti pap peri”/”Haiti will not die.”
“Jesus and the Incarcerated: What Shall We Do With Jesus?”
According to the Gospels in the Bible (i.e. Matthew 27:22-25), the people at Jesus’ trial before Marcus Pontius Pilatus (“Pilate”), the ruling Roman Governor (prefect), did not want to negotiate with him to liberate Jesus from a crime he did not commit; rather, they insisted he should be condemned to death. Their earnest and robust hatred for (and toward) this man named Jesus, who called himself a divine King and the (Jewish) Messiah, marked the religious history of Judaism and Christianity, and the politics of the Roman Empire. Their consensus led to the possible divine retribution upon themselves and God’s curse on their children–at least, that is their anticipation for their deliberate commitment to put an innocent individual, an economically-disadvantaged Jewish peasant male, to death. Who in the world would wish such things upon themselves and their children?
The historic gesture of Governor Pilate to yield to the collective will and desire of the people to execute Jesus by way of death penalty (the crucifixion) was an act of cowardness to preserve his political power and maintain regional peace. Peace at the expense of undermining human dignity and silencing justice as fairness is false peace. The gathering people rejoiced because Governor Pilate acted according to the will of the majority (?), and may have perceived his political action as an act of true democracy. Nonetheless, the will of the majority does not automatically translate into virtuous democracy nor should it even be equated with peace, unity, and human flourishing. On one hand, an act of democracy might benefit a group of people or a nation; on the other hand, another act of democracy might disfranchise and even condemn another group of people or a nation. The democratic action and intervention that takes into account the plot of the marginalized, the most vulnerable, and the least among us in society, is what constitutes true democracy and would advance human flourishing in society. The poor may not have political power, but have democratic ideals. The marginalized understand justice when they witness it. The incarcerated can identify fairness when they experience it.
Like the typical contemporary (American) politician, Pilate could not afford not to be appointed in the future election and lose this high place of coveted honor and prestige: The Office of Governor-General He acted for his own sake and not for the sake of justice. Pilate was part of the broken Roman Judicial system. His action toward Jesus, who could not pay to gain justice and a fair trial, strengthened the structure of the system and deferred the cause of justice for the poor and the marginalized in society. It is good to note that Pilate had the political power to contribute to change and good in the Judicial system, but he chose to silence justice and close the door to judicial reformation in the Roman Empire. Hey, shall we even expect anything good to come from an authoritative figure of the most powerful Empire at the time? World empires are born to conquer, destroy, oppress, and dehumanize people, and imperial authorities and officers are part of the imperial strategy, design, and ambition. Yet we should never compromise moral responsibility and ethical accountability when human dignity is threatened and the sacredness of life is undermined in the political life and society.
In today’s (American) Justice system, the marginalized and the poor are crucified unjustly. The Prison system is against them and do not contribute to their rehabilitation in society. A justice system that does not promote fairness and reformation is a failed institution. A prison system that continues to maintain the status-quo is resistant to internal change and structural renovation; such an institution fails its citizens and defers human development or progress in society. To ask what shall we do with Jesus? is an inevitable quest for justice, beauty, compassion, and moral integrity in society and the political life. It is also a daring spiritual matter that calls into question and relevancy the meaning of Jesus in one’s life or existence. Consequently, Jesus is an existential question for all times.
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”–Mathew 27:22-25
What shall we do with Jesus is the existential question for our contemporary moments?
What shall we do about the innocent prisoner or the incarcerated is the existential question for our contemporary moments?
“Writing and thinking about ‘The Slave’s Complaint’: A Poem”
Just in case you want to know how I spent my birthday Yesterday.
On my birthday, I took a very long nap to fight my interesting seasonal allergy that comes every year, 3 days before my birthday and would last for two weeks; thanks be to God, pharmaceutical scientists, and pain reliefs such as the “Allergy nasal Spray” and “Zyrtec” that helped me to rest and sleep for a good four hours. 💘
Afterwards, while still sneezing and being physically uncomfortable, I spent about five to six hours exegeting and carefully analyzing the syntax, rhetoric, and message of this powerful poem featured here: “Complaintes d’Esclave” (“The Slave’s Complaint”) by the great Haitian poet and brilliant social critic Masillon Coicou (1865-1908). This poem, published in 1892, is one of the earliest expressions of the problem of Black theodicy and the conundrum of the slave life in Black Atlantic Literary Tradition and Haitian Poetry. This is a badass prayer of lament similar to the ones found in the book of Psalms in the Bible. The slave-speaker in the poem is very angry at God for making him “a negro” and “black” (“Pourquoi donc suis-je nègre? Oh! pourquoi suis-je noir?”), predestining his fate. The slave rejects the idea of redemptive suffering found in the book of Job, Christian theology, and in certain versions of Liberation theology (i.e. Black Theology), and he pleads for divine justice and emancipation. God disappoints him and he fails to come to his rescue. The French version/original is quite powerful and poetically stunning. In my attempt to explain it, I ended up writing a 3000-word draft about it. 😂
“Words Have Meanings: I don’t have enough faith to be a Derridean/Jacques Derrida”
I am thankful to the good Lord for adding another year to my life. BIG 43 (March 6). The country of Ghana also turned 64 years old since its independence from the British Empire on March 6, 1957. Happy Independence Day, people of Ghana! I am 15 to 20% Ghanaian if I remember correctly from my ancestral record.
I am also thankful to you, good people and friends, for your multiple wishes and words of grace and friendship directed to me. I am forever grateful; you will always be in my heart 💙 💙 💙
They say people born in March are the most compassionate, the most joyful, the most trustworthy, and the most loyal friends so are you, good people. Yet I am still accepting birthday gifts. Hey, I want more books. 💘 😅 💃 🍷🎉
Just in case you didn’t know the meaning of my name: It simply means “light.” I explain further:
Célucien: the French word “Lucien” comes from the Latin word “Lucius,” and it is also the French form of “Luciano” (Italian, Portuguese, & Spanish) or the Greek “Lucianus” (or Loukianos/Lucianus in Ancient Greek= Λουκιανός), meaning “light.”
The Latin word “lux” means “light” or “to shine.”
In the Bible, the dude “Lucius of Cyrene” established the first Christian congregation in Antioch (Acts 13:1). Antioch was called the “cradle of Christianity.” The religious name “Christian” first emerged in Antioch. In other words, it was in Antioch that followers of Yeshua (“Jesus”) were first called “Christians,” designating their deliberate commitment to observing his teachings (Acts 11:26).
The prefix “ce” in my name is the Kreyòl rendering of the French “c’est,” meaning “this is” or “it is.”
Thus, Célucien means “this is light” or “it is light.” To “celucienize” (the verb) means to be the bearer of light and to shine forth and through.
I bear the light and shine wherever I am in the world; whoever becomes/is my friend shall never walk in darkness, but will shine in this life. Therefore, let us go celucienizing our community and the world. 😂 😂 😂
If you want to be in the light, walk with me in the light, just follow me, as I follow Christ, the “Light of the world.” I just do not have enough faith to be a follower of Jacques Derrida nor to be a committed intellectual derridean. Words have meanings, and meanings give life to words!
John 11:25 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible: .
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.'”
Where there is death, hope never dies. Death brings new beginning and restoration. There is no hope without death, and life becomes more valuable and meaningful to us when we experience death and resurrection. Thus, death is not the end of life, and resurrection as new birth is necessary, both in the present and future. Resurrection is a present reality, a christocentric experience.
Day 8: “This Land (Haiti) Cannot Die”: Happy Black History Month from Jacques Roumain (Haiti)
“Therefore, see this peasant. Put your hand in his hand, rough calloused and beautiful from touching, from toiling each day in the Blessed Earth. Let us be brothers united. Without that, a death more cruel than physical death awaits us. Let us break the barriers. Let us close ranks.
But no force cannot prevent us from joining hands. For the great work of National Restoration must be fulfilled. That is why today we turn to everybody and especially to the younger generation and cry: Forget, forget. All of us are suffering. Grief has equalized us. Harshly. Above all petty quarrels, there is the wounded Fatherland to be saved.
This land [Haiti] cannot die: this magnificent field rampaged by sacrilegious hands. Devastated, but on the surface. Its depths are engorged and rich with the blood and corpses of nobly fallen: our fathers [our mothers].”
Day 7: “A demand for full Civil and Political Rights”: Happy Black History Month from Vincent Ogé (Saint-Domingue-Haiti)
Vincent Ogé’s Motion to the Assembly of Colonists in Paris (1789)
“But Sirs, this word of Freedom that one cannot pronounce without enthusiasm, this word that carries with it the idea of happiness, is this not because it seems to want to make us forget the evils that we have suffered for so many centuries? This Freedom, the greatest, the first of goods, is it made for all men? I believe so. Should it be given to all men? I believe so again. But how should it be rendered? What should be the timing and the conditions? Here is for us, Sirs, the greatest, the most important of all questions; it interests America, Africa, France, all Europe and it is principally this question that has determined me, Sirs, to ask you to hear me out.
If we do not take the most prompt and efficacious measures; if firmness, courage, and constancy do not animate all of us; if we do not quickly bring together all our intelligence, all our means, and all our efforts; if we fall asleep for an instant on the edge of the abyss, we will tremble upon awakening! We will see blood flowing, our lands invaded, the objects of our industry ravaged, our homes burnt. We will see our neighbors, our friends, our wives, our children with their throats cut and their bodies mutilated; the slave will raise the standard of revolt, and the islands [in the Caribbean Sea] will be but a vast and baleful conflagration; commerce will be ruined, France will receive a mortal wound, and a multitude of honest citizens will be impoverished and ruined; we will lose everything.
But, Sirs, there is still time to prevent the disaster. I have perhaps presumed too much from my feeble understanding, but I have ideas that can be useful; if the assembly [of white planters] wishes to admit me, if it desires it, if it wants to authorize me to draw up and submit to it my Plan, I will do it with pleasure, even with gratitude, and perhaps I could contribute and help ward off the storm that rumbles over our heads.”
“A Little Light on Jovenel Moïse, President of Haiti, and the 1987 Haitian Constitution: Article 134.1 and Article 134.2”
The Haitian President is elected for five years according to Articles 134.1 and 134.2 of the 1987 Haitian Constitution.
President Jovenel Moïse came to power on February 7, 2017 through the November 2016 election. His presidential term will end on February 7, 2022. That is five years. According to the 1987 Constitution, his constitutional mandate does not end on Sunday, February 7, 2021, as his critics have stated.
Currently, under the Moïse administration, the Haitian people experience daily gang kidnapping, gang violence, political corruption and instability, mass killing and death, societal incoherence and disunity, hunger, poverty, frustrations, etc. Yet these things are not new in the Haitian society. While some have argued that life has gotten worst under this current administration, thus demanding Moïse’s resignation before his term ends on February 7, 2022.
You may not agree with Moise’s policies, political actions, or governance; yet, constitutionally, he has one more year left in power and before he bids goodbye to the Haitian people. Consequently, the new president of Haiti will be elected constitutionally in this year’s presidential election in November 2021.
Historically, in the first round of the 2015 (25 October 2015), Moïse did not receive enough popular votes to be elected as President of Haiti. (This election was a mess, and its results were fraudulent according to critics.) Whenever that happens, the Haitian Constitution makes provision for a second round. Hence, in the 2016 election (27 November), Haitian election officials (the Conseil Electoral Provisoire) declared that Jovenel Moïse has won the presidential election.
Consequently, his presidential term began on 7 February 2017. In other words, Moïse’s term did not begin on 7 February 2016 because he did not win in the first round of the November 2015 election. By contrast, since he was declared the winner of the November 2016 election, his presidential term officially began on 7 February 7, 2017–as mandated by the Haitian Constitution.
Below, I reproduce both Articles 134.1 and 134. 2 as constitutional reference:
“ARTICLE 134-1: The term of the President is five (5) years. This term begins and ends on the February 7 following the date of the elections.
Article 134.1: La durée du mandat présidentiel est de cinq (5) ans. Cette période commence et se terminera le 7 février suivant la date des élections.
ARTICLE 134-2: Presidential election shall take place the last Sunday of November in the fifth year of the President’s term.”
Article 134.2: Les élections présidentielles ont lieu le dernier dimanche de novembre de la cinquième année du mandat présidentiel. L’élection présidentielle a lieu le dernier dimanche d’octobre de la cinquième année du mandat présidentiel.
Le président élu entre en fonction le 7 février suivant la date de son élection. Au cas où le scrutinne peut avoir lieu avant le 7 février, le président élu entre en fonction immédiatement après la validation du scrutin et son mandat est censé avoir commencé le 7 février de l’année de l’élection.”
***Also, the language of Articles 134.1 and 134.2 in the amended 1987 Constitution is the same as the original 1987 version cited above.
“Article 134-1 The term of the President is five (5) years. This term begins and ends on the February 7 following the date of the elections.
Article 134-2 [Amended by the Constitutional Law of 9 May 2011 / 19 June 2012] The presidential election takes place on the last Sunday of October of the fifth year of the presidential mandate.
The president elected enters into his functions on 7 February following the date of his election. In the case where the ballot cannot take place before 7 February, the president elected enters into his functions immediately after the validation of the ballot and his mandate is considered to have commenced on 7 February of the year of the election “
Source: “Haiti’s Constitution of 1987 with Amendments through 2012″
***Warning: my brief analysis is not based on political affiliation or partisanship with the Moïse administration, and this post is not a defense of Moïse administration or presidency.
I am not a constitutional scholar nor am I an expert on Haitian laws. My analysis is based on the exegetical reading and literary analysis of both articles in view here. I’m open to be corrected.
Moreover, Article 134.2 does not declare that the president begins his or her term on the “same” day or the “same” year of the election. (The word “same” is not used in Articles 134.1 and/or 134.2. Rather, it states that the presidential term begins and ends on February 7. The phrase “following the election” is pertinent to the day and year the President begins his or her term on February 7.
For example, if I am elected as the President of Haiti in the November 21, 2021 election, my term does not begin on 21 November 2021 because November is not February and 21 is not 7. Rather, my presidential term will begin on 7 February 2022. My presidential term will end on 7 February 2027. That is 5 years, as mandated by the 1987 Haitian Constitution.
Article 134.1: “La durée du mandat présidentiel est de cinq (5) ans. Cette période commence et se terminera le 7 février suivant la date des élections.”
Article 134.2: “Le président élu entre en fonction le 7 février suivant la date de son élection. Au cas où le scrutinne peut avoir lieu avant le 7 février, le président élu entre en fonction immédiatement après la validation du scrutin et son mandat est censé avoir commencé le 7 février de l’année de l’élection.”
***The Haitian Electoral Committee “validated” or “certified” the winner (Jovenel Moïse) of the election in November 2016, not October 2015.
The President couldn’t have started his presidential term on 7 February 2016 because (1) the official certification of the election occurred in November 2016, and (2) constitutionally speaking, the Haitian Electoral Committee couldn’t certify an election before it actually occurred. In other words, Jovenel Moïse couldn’t begin his presidential term on 7 February 2016 since the official certification was declared in November 2016. Constitutionally and as the language of both Articles argues, the mandated term of the president begins on 7 February and it lasts for 5 years. In the case of President Jovenel Moïse, his constitutional began on 7 February 2017, and will end on 7 February 2022, as mandated both by the original 1987 Constitution and the amended 1987 Constitution.
Or maybe Articles 134.1 & 134.2 need to be amended again for greater clarity and precision, as we are dealing with two phenomena that contradict each other: the electoral cycle & the constitutional cycle pertaining to the beginning and end of the presidential term. This is an issue of legal technicality and clarity.
Jovenel Moïse, President of Haiti
Presidential term: February 7, 2017 – February 7, 2022 (5 years)
Day 6: “Against the Yankees”: Happy Black History Month from Charlemagne M. Péralte (Haiti)
“Charlemagne M. Péralte, Lettre, 1919
Contrary to the principles generally agreed to by civilized nations and to the rules of intentional law, the American government, taking advantage of the great European war, has intervened in the affairs of the small Republic of Haiti by imposing a convention whose ratification in the National Assembly was assured by a military occupation. In spite of the threats to our autonomy and our dignity as a free and independent people, we were disposed to accept this convention and execute our obligations as we were directed to. However, the false promises made by the Yankees on disembarking on our territory are being realized, after only four years have passed, by perpetual antagonisms, outrageous crimes, murders, thefts and acts of barbarism of which only the American, in the whole world, is capable.
Today our patience is at an end and we demand our rights, unrecognized and flouted by the unscrupulous Americans who, by destroying our institutions, deprive the Haitian people of all their resources and thrive on our name and our blood. With cruelty and injustice, the Yankees, have for four years cast ruin and desolation on our territory. In this day when, at the conference for peace among civilized nations, they have sworn, before the entire world, to respect the rights and sovereignty of small nations, we demand the liberation of our territory and the right of free independent states, as recognized by international law.
We ask you, consequently, to observe that we have been struggling for ten months with only this end in view, and that our weapons until now victorious, permit us to ask you to recognize our right to violence. We are prepared to make any sacrifice to liberate Haitian territory and create respect for the principles adopted by President Wilson himself, concerning the rights and sovereignty of small nations. Please note, Sir, that the American troops, by virtue of their own laws have no right to wage war against us.
Sincerely, Charlemagne M. Péralte, Commander-in-chief of the Revolution, and 100 other signatories”
Source: “Against the Yankees” by Charlemagne M. Péralte, translated from French by David Nicholls, In Libète. A Haitian Anthology, edited by Charles Arthur and Michael Dash (Ian Randle Publishers, 1999).