“My 2021 Christmas Wishlist Books”

“My 2021 Christmas Wishlist Books”

If you love me the same way I love you and if you are thinking about giving me a present for this Christmas season, let me help you in the process. All I want for Christmas is for those books to be mine 🙂

  1. “The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity” (2021)
    by David Graeber and David Wengrow
  2. “Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War (2020) by Vincent Brown
  3. “American Democratic Socialism: History, Politics, Religion, and Theory” (2021) by Gary Dorrien
  4. “Divine Institutions: Religions and Community in the Middle Roman Republic” (2020) by Dan-el Padilla Peralta
  5. “African American Religions, 1500-2000” (2015) by Sylvester A. Johnson
  6. “La dignité ou la mort-Ethique et politique de la race” (2019) by
    by Norman Ajari
  7. “A Theology of Paul and His Letters: The Gift of the New Realm in Christ” (2021) by Douglas J. Moo
  8. “The Messianic Theology of the New Testament” (2020) by Joshua W. Jipp
  9. “Medieval Ethiopian Kingship, Craft, and Diplomacy with Latin Europe” (2021) by Verena Krebs
  10. “A Regarded Self: Caribbean Womanhood and the Ethics of Disorderly Being” (2021) by Kaiama L. Glover

A New Graduate Course on “Afro-Caribbean Worldview and Christian Theology”

A New Graduate Course on “Afro-Caribbean Worldview and Christian Theology”

The Dean of the School of Theology at Emmaus University—a fully-accredited institution—confirmed with me that he wants me to offer an intensive (one-week) Graduate course on “Afro-Caribbean Worldview and Christian Theology” for the next cohort that will take place in the Spring Semester 2022 (March 2022). (The good thing is that I will offer this course during my Spring Break 😊) This course is integral to the school’s new M.A. degree in Contextual Theology. Here is the course description from the School’s Catalogue:

“This course examines and critiques the philosophical foundations for Afro-Caribbean worldview as it relates to theology, and the nature of its interfacing with the philosophical foundations of orthodox Christian theology.”

The Caribbean has produced some of the most brilliant thinkers and writers in the Black Atlantic (i.e., C.L.R. James, Eric Williams, Jean Price-Mars, Joseph Anténor Firmin, Edouard Glissant, Sylvia Wynter, Edwidge Danticat, Myriam J.A. Chancy, Jean Rhys, Maryse Condé, Patrick Chamoisseau, Derek Walcott, Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, Suzanne Césaire, Paulette Nardal, Jane Nardal, Jacques Roumain, Nicolas Guillen, Marcus Garvey, Jacques Roumain, Claude McKay, George Lamming, Edward Brathwaite, Derek Walcott, V.S. Naipaul, Alejo Carpentier, Walter Rodney, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Jose Marti, Roberto Fernandez Retamar, Leon Damas, Fernando Ortiz, Antonio Benitez-Rojo, Wilson Harris, Audre Lorde, Stuart Hall, Hubert Harrison, Claudia Jones).

The Caribbean people and nations are such a diverse group that inherits three major traditions and heritages: African, European, Indigenous (Native American). They created their own tradition through the intermixing and intermingling (i.e., syncretism, creolization, acculturation, inculturation, symbiosis) process of these various traditions, what Caribbean anthropologists and thinkers have called the Caribbean culture. The Caribbean people practice various and different religious traditions, including the Afro-Caribbean religions (i.e., Santeria, Obeah, Vodou, Candomblé), Rastafarianism, Catholic Christianity, Protestant Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormonism, etc.

The Caribbean is known as the birthplace of Black freedom; the genesis of the postcolonial state; the origin of the Black Radical Tradition; and the center of Black Power Movement coupled with various ideologies such as Caribbean Marxism and Caribbean Communism. The Caribbean has also produced some of the major literary, cultural, and political movements in the world, including Négritude, Créolité, Antillanité, Cubanismo, indigénisme, noirisme, magical realism, etc. In addition, the Caribbean people are a multilingual group, and the most spoken languages in the Region include Kreyòl, Spanish, French, English, Dutch, etc.

Some Guiding Questions for the Course:

• What is then the Afro-Caribbean worldview?
• Can it be truly defined?
• What are the basic or fundamental elements that constitute the Afro-Caribbean Worldview?
• How shall one present (methodology and pedagogy) such a diverse and complex people?
• What is the place of Africa in the formation of the Afro-Caribbean worldview?
• Where does Europe fit in the construction of the Afro-Caribbean worldview?
• Where is the place of the Caribbean (the indigenous native American culture) in the development and evolution of the Afro-Caribbean worldview?
• How have these various cultural and intellectual traditions and movements influence and contribute to Caribbean Christianity?
• More specifically, how have these various forces and actors (re-)shaped or influenced Caribbean Christian theology?
• Is Caribbean Christian theological discourse different to the mainstream, that is, the European/Western Christian theological discourse?
• What constitutes Christian theological orthodoxy for Caribbean Christians and Caribbean Christian Theologians?
• How have the institutions of slavery and colonization, as well as imperialism and capitalism helped shape Christian theology in the Caribbean?
• How have political (dis-)orders and systems such as Caribbean dictatorship, communism, and totalitarianism shaped Christian theology in the Caribbean?

These are some of the fundamental questions I hope to introduce to the students in that course; these questions will also serve as guide to define and understand the relationship between the Afro-Caribbean worldview and Christian theology. All the required texts for the course will be accessible online and for free.

(Tentative) Required Texts

• Laennec Hurbon, Dieu dans le Vodou haïtien (1974)
• Jean Price-Mars, Ainsi parla l’Oncle: Essai d’Ethnolographie
(1928), http://classiques.uqac.ca/classiques/price_mars_jean/ainsi_parla_oncle/ainsi_parla_oncle.pdf
or http://classiques.uqac.ca/classiques/price_mars_jean/ainsi_parla_oncle/ainsi_parla_oncle.html
• Frantz Fanon, Peau Noir, Masques Blancs (1952),
https://monoskop.org/images/f/f4/Fanon_Frantz_Peau_noire_masques_blancs_1952.pdf
• Edouard Glissant, Le discours antillais,
https://edisciplinas.usp.br/pluginfile.php/5665986/mod_resource/content/1/LE%20DISCOURS%20ANTILLAIS.pdf,
https://monoskop.org/images/a/a5/Glissant_Edouard_Caribbean_Discourse.pdf
• Jacques Roumain, Gouverneurs de la rosée (1944),
http://classiques.uqac.ca/classiques/roumain_jacques/gouverneurs_de_la_rosee/gouverneurs_de_la_rosee.pdf
or http://classiques.uqac.ca/classiques/roumain_jacques/gouverneurs_de_la_rosee/gouverneurs_de_la_rosee.html
• Aimé Césaire, Discours sur le colonialisme (1955),
https://www.larevuedesressources.org/IMG/pdf/CESAIRE.pdf
• Dieumeme Noelliste, Les religions afro-caribéennes à la
lumière de la foi chrétienne: Similitudes et differences (2019)
• Patrick Chamoisseau, Eloge de la Créolité

*** Core Theological Texts and Ideas in English we will engage:

*David I. Mitchell, With Eyes Wide Open: A Collection of Papers by Caribbean Scholars on Caribbean Christian Concerns (1973)

*George MacDonald Mulrain, Theology in folk culture : the theological significance of Haitian folk religion (1984)

*Jean-Bertrand Aristide, In the Parish of the Poor: Writings from Haiti (1990)Kortright Davis, Emancipation Still Comin’: Explorations in Caribbean Emancipatory Theology ( 1990)

*Kortright Davis, Emancipation Still Comin’: Explorations in Caribbean Emancipatory Theology ( 1990)

*Robert E. Hood, Must God Remain Greek? Afro Cultures and God-Talk (1990)

*Noel Leo Erskine, Decolonizing Theology: A Caribbean Perspective (1998)Howard Gregory, Caribbean Theology: Preparing for the Challenges Ahead (1995)

*Howard Gregory, Caribbean Theology: Preparing for the Challenges Ahead (1995)

*Michelle A. González, Afro-Cuban Theology: Religion, Race, Culture, and Identity (2006)

*Michael St. Miller, A. Reshaping the Contextual Vision in Caribbean Theology: Theoretical Foundations for Theology Which Is Contextual, Pluralistic, and Dialectical ( 2007)

*George Mulrain. Caribbean Theological Insights: Exploring Theological Themes within the Context of the Caribbean Region (2014)

*Teresa A. Delgado, Puerto Rican Decolonial Theology: Prophesy Freedom ( 2017)

Articles: TBA

· Edwidge Danticat

· Sylvia Wynter

· Marcus Garvey

· Maryse Condé

· Jean Rhys

· Derek Walcott

· Jamaica Kincaid

· (Edward) Kamau Brathwaite

· V. S. Naipaul

· Jose Martí

“A Joyful Experience”

“A Joyful Experience”

Recently, I had the pleasure to teach a one-week intensive graduate course entitled “Systematic Theology II in a Cultural Context” to a group of M. A. students at Emmaus University and Seminary in Haiti. It was quite an exhilarating experience for the students, especially for me.

I used five basic approaches and methodologies–Historical Theology, Theology of Inculturation, Theology of Contextualization, Liberation Theology, and Textual Hermeneutics–to approach the topics covered in the course.

Systematic Theology II is a reflection on five major doctrines in the Christian faith: the doctrines of the work of Jesus Christ (Christology), salvation (Soteriology) and the Christian life, the Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), the church (Ecclesiology), and last things (Eschatology).

As a Visiting Professor at Emmaus University, the Dean of the School of Theology asked me to offer another course to their new M.A. degree in Contextual Theology. It is a course on Christianity and Vodou. I can’t wait to teach that course.

I am thrilled that I have been given an opportunity to invest in the lives of Haitian seminarians and future leaders of Haiti. I am more excited that I get to train individuals who are preparing for a vocation in Christian ministry.

Ten Productivity Strategies:

Ten Productivity Strategies:

  1. Prioritize people in all your work and success.
  2. Have a broad vision of life and think about how it relates to the consequences of your ideas and work.
  3. Know your strength and use it to inspire and empower people.
  4. Do not be ashamed of your weakness; rely on others’ strength to fill in the gaps.
  5. Value human relationships and do not mistreat the people you work with or those you depend on to get the work done.
  6. Teach others what you know and do your work effectively.
  7. Use your knowledge, skills, and talent to change the human condition in your community and in the world.
  8. Do not focus too much about what you would like to become in life; rather, be committed to the steps that will take you there.
  9. Do not lose a sweat about what people are thinking about you.
  10. Be honest, treat all people with respect and kindness, and live in peace with all people.

Jean-Jacques Dessalines (September 20, 1758-October 17, 1806) and Haitian Exceptionalism

https://m.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=429168931386657&_rdr

To commemorate the death of Haiti’s founder Jean-Jacques Dessalines, on October 17, 2020, Dr. Boaz (Bo Anglade) Anglade and I had an interesting conversation on Haitian exceptionalism and the significance of Jean-Jacques Dessalines in Haitian history. Click on the link below to listen:

https://m.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=429168931386657&_rdr

“A New History Changes the Balance of Power Between Ethiopia and Medieval Europe”New History Changes the Balance of Power Between Ethiopia and Medieval Europe”

” A New History Changes the Balance of Power Between Ethiopia and Medieval Europe”

What an insightful and informative article! This might change the way we understand Medieval Christian history and early African Christian historiography.

“For centuries, a Eurocentric worldview disregarded the knowledge and strength of the African empire.

What emerged, published earlier this year as Medieval Ethiopian Kingship, Craft, and Diplomacy with Latin Europe, is a story that flips the script. Traditionally, the story centered Europe and placed Ethiopia as periphery, a technologically backwards Christian kingdom that, in the later Middle Ages, looked to Europe for help. But by following the sources, Krebs showcases the agency and power of Ethiopia and Ethiopians at the time and renders Europe as it was seen from East Africa, as a kind of homogenous (if interesting) mass of foreigners.

It’s not that modern historians of the medieval Mediterranean, Europe and Africa have been ignorant about contacts between Ethiopia and Europe; the issue was that they had the power dynamic reversed. The traditional narrative stressed Ethiopia as weak and in trouble in the face of aggression from external forces, especially the Mamluks in Egypt, so Ethiopia sought military assistance from their fellow Christians to the north—the expanding kingdoms of Aragon (in modern Spain), and France. But the real story, buried in plain sight in medieval diplomatic texts, simply had not yet been put together by modern scholars. Krebs’ research not only transforms our understanding of the specific relationship between Ethiopia and other kingdoms, but joins a welcome chorus of medieval African scholarship pushing scholars of medieval Europe to broaden their scope and imagine a much more richly connected medieval world.

The Solomonic kings of Ethiopia, in Krebs’ retelling, forged trans-regional connections. They “discovered” the kingdoms of late medieval Europe, not the other way around. It was the Africans who, in the early-15th century, sent ambassadors out into strange and distant lands. They sought curiosities and sacred relics from foreign leaders that could serve as symbols of prestige and greatness. Their emissaries descended onto a territory that they saw as more or less a uniform “other,” even if locals knew it to be a diverse land of many peoples. At the beginning of the so-called Age of Exploration, a narrative that paints European rulers as heroes for sending out their ships to foreign lands, Krebs has found evidence that the kings of Ethiopia were sponsoring their own missions of diplomacy, faith and commerce.

But the history of medieval Ethiopia extends much farther back than the 15th and 16th centuries and has been intertwined with the better-known history of the Mediterranean since the very beginning of Christianity’s expansion. “[The kingdom of Ethiopia] is one of the most ancient Christian realms in the world,” she says. Aksum, a predecessor kingdom to what we now know as Ethiopia, “[converts] to Christianity in the very early fourth century,” much earlier than the mass of the Roman empire, which only converted to Christianity by the sixth or seventh century. The Solomonic dynasty specifically arose around 1270 A.D. in the highlands of the Horn of Africa and by the 15th century had firmly consolidated power. Their name arose out of their claim of direct descent from King Solomon of ancient Israel, via his purported relationship with the Queen of Sheba. Although they faced several external threats, they consistently beat those threats back and expanded their kingdom across the period, establishing uneasy (though generally peaceful) relations with Mamluk Egypt and inspiring wonder across Christian Europe.

It’s at this time, Krebs says, that the Ethopian rulers looked back to Aksum with nostalgia, “It’s its own little Renaissance, if you will, where Ethiopian Christian kings are actively going back to Late Antiquity and even reviving Late Antique models in art and literature, to make it their own.” So, in addition to investing in a shared culture of art and literature, they followed a well-worn model used by rulers across the Mediterranean, and throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, by turning to religion. They build churches.They reach out to the Coptic Christians living in Egypt under the Islamic Mamluks to present themselves as a kind of (theoretical) protector. The Solomonic kings of Ethiopia consolidated a huge “multilingual, multi-ethnic, multi-faith kingdom” under their rule, really a kind of empire.

And that empire needed to be adorned. Europe, Krebs says, was for the Ethiopians a mysterious and perhaps even slightly barbaric land with an interesting history and, importantly, sacred stuff that Ethiopian kings could obtain. They knew about the Pope, she says, “But other than that, it’s Frankland. [Medieval Ethiopians] had much more precise terms for Greek Christianity, Syriac Christianity, Armenian Christianity, the Copts, of course. All of the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches. But everything Latin Christian [to the Ethiopians] is Frankland.”

David M. Perry and Matthew Gabriele, “A New History Changes the Balance of Power Between Ethiopia and Medieval Europe,” Smithsonian Magazine (June 29, 2021).

Here is the article link:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/new-history-changes-balance-power-between-ethiopia-and-medieval-europe-180978084/

The bibliographic citation of the book reviewed is:
Krebs, Verena.  Medieval Ethiopian Kingship, Craft, and Diplomacy with Latin Europe.  Palgrave Macmillan, 2021.

Here is the publisher’s product page for the book:
https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030649333

“Why I Write What I Write in 15 Propositions”

“Why I Write What I Write in 15 Propositions”

  1. I write for Black people and for the Haitian people.
  2. I write to instruct people about Haiti, Africa, and the African Diaspora.
  3. I write to educate all people and to provide a vehicle for individuals to grow intellectually and emotionally and in connection with their environment and to the global village.
  4. I write to expose my personal and intellectual sensibilities and to articulate my interpretation of the world and the human ideas and events that shaped and reshaped society and human civilization.
  5. I write with an emancipative intent and from a liberative framework–as a person of faith: a follower of Christ–to engage critically and responsibly the intersections of faith, secularism, and humanism.
  6. I write for humanity, about the human condition and experience in the world, and for the interest and delight of human beings.
  7. I write because ideas in books have changed my life, and writing makes me a more compassionate person and engaged citizen of the interconnected world.
  8. I write because I do not wish to see the Printed Culture disappear in our civilization nor do I want to experience the end of human reason and logic through the end of writing as craft, technology, and art.
  9. I write to continue the conversation previous writers have initiated; to strengthen and expand the conversation through innovative ideas; to break and change the rules; to refine and reconstruct their ideas and arguments; and to celebrate and prolong their legacy through the written word.
  10. I write because I believe in the freedom of the mind, the agency of human intellect, and the interindependence of human reason.
  11. I write because writing sustains the life of the mind and prevents it from declining and altogether disappearing.
  12. I write because my pen allows me to reflect upon the complexity of the human condition expressed through a history of pain and suffering, through a narrative of struggle and conflict, and through a life of human joy, pleasure, and solidarity.
  13. I write to foster peace and human solidarity, and to strengthen human relationships and bring hope and healing to diverse communities.
  14. I write for this present world, a new and transformed global community, and for a new generation yet to be born.
  15. I write to make God smile and for Jesus to delight in my prose.

“Toward a Politics of Sustainable Development and Human Flourishing: 20 Major Forces and Interventions to Eradicate Political Corruption and Destroy American and Western Imperialism and Hegemony in Haiti”

“Toward a Politics of Sustainable Development and Human Flourishing: 20 Major Forces and Interventions to Eradicate Political Corruption and Destroy American and Western Imperialism and Hegemony in Haiti”


1. Unwavering patriotic zeal and passion for Haiti


2. Political integrity and consistency in the political life


3. The Haitianization of Haitian education (i.e. higher learning) and the indigenous formation and cultivation of this generation of Haitian youths


4. The reeducation of the Haitian elite minority and the decolonization of Haiti’s institutions and systems


5. Consistent grassroots mobilization and unity toward institutional and systemic reform in the country


6. Sustaining national solidarity and the reconstitution of the Haitian psyche toward a comprehensive self-criticism and a positive self-consciousness 


7. The removal of the corrupt Haitian oligarchy from the country–either by force or forced exile–and the revocation of their Haitian citizenship, including their rights of land ownership and their rights and freedom to conduct business in Haiti.


8. Immediate executive and judicial order to prevent current corrupt Haitian politicians, including current judges, senators, deputies, and state representatives, from participating in future elections and assuming future government offices in the next 50 years


9. Rigorous and consistent investment in technology and science, and the creation of world-class STEM schools and higher learning in the country.


10. Creation of new National, State, and Regional Ethics Committees–both at the independent and government level–to ensure financial accountability and to establish good governance and management of the resources of the Haitian state


11. Creation of new Ethics Committee at the National, State, and Regional level to regulate the operations and restrict the (suspicious) activities of the non-profit government organizations in the country of Haiti


12. Restructuring the contemporary country’s Judicial and Criminal system to ensure judicial fairness and good judgment,  promote moral excellence and integrity, and champion social and political justice in the Haitian society


13. Reframing the current Police system to ensure inclusive service and safety to the country’s citizens, dispell national corruption, and to secure moral accountability and faithfulness to the law of the land


14.  Comprehensive reform of the agricultural sector and developing the country’s natural resources toward economic development and sovereignty


15. Promote and invest in consistent programs and projects on interreligious dialogue and understanding to establish national peace and unity, to eliminate religious violence and rhetoric of demonization of certain religious traditions, and to champion our shared dignity and humanity in society


16. The reeducation of Haitian Christian ministers and clergy to value Haitian culture and tradition, and the comprehensive Haitianization of Haitian churches and other faith communities in the country


17. Developing and investing in the country’s healthcare system and public health, as well as the construction of new medical facilities and hospitals with advanced technologies and human intelligence


18. Creation of new medical schools and nursing schools, and the training of new healthcare professionals to deal with the national shortage of healthcare professionals, especially Haitian doctors and nurses in the country


19. Investing in the country’s educators and secondary-school teachers through good teacher’s educational programs and increasing teacher’s national salary

20. Creating new friendly and hospitable environments in which Haitians will learn to love Haiti and to respect each other, love one another, and support one another.

George Breathett on the Code Noir of 1685!

Prominent African American historian on colonial slavery & religion (Roman Catholicism) in the French colony of Saint-Domingue Prof. George Breathett of Bennett College (Greensboro, North Carolina) was an excellent interpreter of the colonial system. I found him to be a fair, insightful, knowledgeable, well-balanced, rigorous, and amicable historian and writer.

Does anyone have a picture of him?

I do not think many Haitian scholars and historians who wrote about slavery and religion in the French colony of Saint-Domingue are familiar with his work–rarely do they interact with his writings. Of course, Professor Breathett published in the English language.

In his article on the Code Noir of 1685 (the Black Code), Breathett makes the following reasoning and observation:

“The Code Noir was one of the most significant humanitarian developments in the history of colonial Haiti. The benevolent outlook and practices of the Church and its continued agitation for concrete slave legislation, plus Christian piety and enlightenment, greatly influenced the Code’s passage. Had the existing status of the slave been maintained, it would have destroyed, in the long run, the effectiveness of the Church and the Church’s teachings…

Was the Code Noir effective and enforced? While there are evidences of cruelty toward slaves in Haiti, it can be that the Code gave the slave a form of constitutional protection, though unenforceable on a day-to-day basis. Vaissiere sates that notwithstanding some abuses, the more responsible colonists approved the Code. Although many writers have stated that the planters and merchants of Haiti were cruel to their slaves, it is difficult to believe that valuable economic property would be treated so carelessly on an extensive or mass scale. Such would have been economic folly; and if the burning, binding, and crippling of black slaves had been commonplace, Haiti could not have become the wealthiest colony in the French empire during this period. Certainly, the treatment of slaves in the French colonies was mild, compared to the severity of the English slavemaster, who held virtually unlimited power and sanctioned some of the most horrid enormities ever tolerated by law.

The promulgation of the Code Noir represented, legally at least, a triumph of Christian justice and humanitarianism. Its major provisions depicted the attitude of the Church and its missionaries toward slavery and paved the way for continued elevation of the status of the slave through the works of the Church and its Christianization efforts” (George Breathett, “Catholicism and the Code Noir in Haiti,” pp. 7, 10, 1988)

“African Methodist Episcopal Church and Missionaries in Haiti”

“African Methodist Episcopal Church and Missionaries in Haiti”

Did you know that African American missionaries from the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which Richard Allen founded in 1816, built the first Protestant Church (Saint Peter’s African Methodist Episcopal Church) in Haiti in 1824? In other words, the second Protestant denomination established in Haiti in 1824 (only 23 years after the birth of the nation of Haiti) is the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E. Church). (Other historians have reported the church was erected in 1834). The first Protestant denomination established in Haiti in 1816 (only 15 yrs after the birth of Haiti) was Methodism from the Methodist Wesleyan Mission of England.

Bishop Richard Allen (1760-1831) ordained two African American Christians in the 1820s and sent them as missionaries to Haiti. Rev. Richard Robinson was one of them who served as missionary in Haiti for seven years. Rev. Scipio Beans of Maryland, the second missionary, succeeded Rev. Robinson in 1832; he assumed the leadership of the A. M. E. Church in Haiti (Saint Peter’s).


In 1830, Haitian Methodist Christians made a request to the Head of the A.M.E. Church to incorporate Haitian Methodism into the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Below, you will find a popular song composed by African slave Christians who immigrated to Haiti in 1820:

“Sailing on the ocean.
Bless the Lord,
I am on my way,
Farewell to Georgia,
Moses is gone to Hayti”

For those interested on the subject, read this important article, Effie Lee Newsome, “Early Figures in Haitian Methodism” (1944)