Saturday, January 16, 2010

God, Satan, and the Birth of Haiti- Articles-

I came across this God, Satan, and the Birth of Haiti- Articles- thanks to Jonathan Stegall The author claims to be familiar with preachers who have not only claimed that 200 years ago Haitians made a pact with the devil when they revolted against the French, but that God is the one that cursed the Haitians, because of this pact. According to the author this theory is a fairly common trope. While I was aware that because of Vodou, that there were those Christians who would speak of the stronghold of Satan in Haiti, I had not before come across that God had cursed the Haitians because of this.

There is then a possibility that this is what Robertson was drawing on. Though if so I still think it significant that he said that the Haitians were cursed by one tragedy after another, but not that God had cursed them. In my interpretation of what Robertson said, the curse was a direct outgrowth of the supposed pact with Satan that did not require a response or action by God to activate. Side note according to this "Satan's Letter to Pat Robertson" Satan does not act this way but deals in wealth, but not poverty or degradation etc. Well that is partially based on an interesting western literary trope, but it seems to me that if we are going to follow the character of Satan as a liar, it is highly likely that Satan may make pacts that he would not keep or at least not keep in ways one may expect. And I say that the demonic (Satan is a demon) deals in death, destruction and oppression, and that these are the flip side of much wealth creation.

The other interesting part of God, Satan, and the Birth of Haiti was its questioning the origin of the "pact with Satan" theory. Does it originate among Haitian Christians, or is it something that white missionaries imposed on their Haitian converts, or was it an application by Haitian believers based on white interpretations of Vodou. I also, appreciated along these lines the author's call for discernment of spirits, surrounding this theory.

I think this is important, because I do note racism and traces of imperialism in this theory. Yet, at the same time, I hear echos of very orthodox and, I think, correct analysis of idolatry, that at least in its Biblical origin was neither racial nor a theory from above, but quite explicitly a theory form bellow, and itself a protest of the oppression of the fickle god's of the nations. Worship of god's of fertility, of the earth, etc. is idolatry Biblicaly speaking( though not the only idolatry), as the worship of the creature in place of the creator, and one interpretation of this worship is that it was actually the worship of demons. These sorts of ideas are found in the prophets to whom we look to for much inspiration in terms of a scriptural vision social justice. We should be remembered that in Israel's history the acts of injustice and oppression were associated with the worship of other god's than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Granted this theory of worship of other god's takes on a different flavor when it is used by a colonial power as a tool for subjugation and enslavement. But there is perhaps something true in this that needs to be retrieved and separated out from the racism and oppression, not as a judgment or evaluation of the Haitians (or other oppressed and colonized groups) but to regain a sense of how worship of the created instead of the creator is a demonic activity, one that we engage in when we put our trust in nations, the international order, and economic systems of human origin. Or to put it another way it seems that this theory or doctrine functions do deflect the sin of the colonial and post colonial powers and project that sin upon the poorest and the oppressed. If the theory itself if allowed to be heard in its full biblical witness it actually falls back upon those who perpetuate this theory as it shows that they worship at the altars of the idols of nation, wealth, and mere human economy. There is scriptural warrant to say is these above mention authorities and powers are under the rule of Satan and the demonic, though their true sovereign is Christ. However these powers, the nations, the State at best only partially recognizes their creaturely status and seem to continually refuse to recognize God and Christ as their true sovereign. It is possible then that in the very make up of our global economy and power structures a very ancient and real pact with "Satan". That this system tolerates and creates such great disparity and poverty is perhaps the very sign that it is demonic, and destructive of life and serves death.