Caribbean Religious History: An Introduction by Ennis B. Edmonds, Michelle A. Gonzalez

By Ennis B. Edmonds, Michelle A. Gonzalez

The colonial background of the Caribbean created a context within which many faiths, from indigenous to African-based to Christian, intermingled with each other, making a wealthy variety of non secular existence. Caribbean non secular historical past bargains the 1st finished non secular background of the region.Ennis B. Edmonds and Michelle A. Gonzalez commence their exploration with the non secular traditions of the Amerindians who flourished sooner than touch with ecu colonizers, then element the transplantation of Catholic and Protestant Christianity and their centuries of struggles to develop into indispensable to the Caribbean’s spiritual ethos, and hint the 20th century penetration of yank Evangelical Christianity, really in its Pentecostal and Holiness iterations. Caribbean spiritual historical past additionally illuminates the effect of Africans and their descendants at the shaping of such spiritual traditions as Vodou, Santeria, Revival Zion, non secular Baptists, and Rastafari, and the good fortune of Indian indentured workers and their descendants in reconstituting Hindu and Islamic practices of their new environment.Paying cautious consciousness to the region’s social and political historical past, Edmonds and Gonzalez current a one-volume panoramic creation to this religiously bright a part of the area.

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Columbus’s journal is replete with his first impressions of the people he encountered. Though somewhat taken aback by their nakedness or nearnakedness (some wore only a covering over their genital areas), he was duly impressed by their physical features, describing them as handsome and well built. He was also of the opinion that they had excellent native intelligence, since they were adept at learning to communicate with the Spaniards by signs and even quick to learn Spanish words. Ever the crafty admiral, he quickly noted their apparent defenselessness, since they had only wooden spears tipped with stone or fish bone and no arms made of iron.

Since bones were regarded as the repository of human vitality, the bones of dead relatives were placed in containers and hung in houses. 25 Like most other peoples, the Tainos told stories, or myths, that were meant to explain their sense of themselves in relation to the cosmic forces that impinged on their lives. In religious studies, myths are archetypical stories in which religious communities convey in narrative form their understanding of the world in which they live. These stories often narrate the beginning of the world or the group and the genesis of practices and traditions that are considered essential to community life.

Despite the directives from the Crown to Christianize the Amerindians and treat them humanely, the early settlers had no qualms about crushing the Amerindians in the pursuit of their goals. The religious instruction of the Tainos was low on their list of priorities. For the priests and friars who came with the explorers and settlers, the establishment of the Catholic Church in the Caribbean was made difficult by the frontier conditions, the apathy and unchristian behavior of the settlers, and the disinclination of the Amerindians to trust the Spanish in light of the poor treatment they had received.

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