This study created a method for measuring the presence of Christian-voodoo syncretism in three Protestant denominations in the north of Haiti. Estimates of voodoo practice among Christians have ranged from 50% to 75%, although it is unclear how these percentages were derived. The researcher created a Voodoo-Protestant Scale (VPS), which tests for the presence of fourteen Christian-voodoo syncretistic practices and fifteen Christian-voodoo syncretistic beliefs. The VPS was written and administered in Creole, but the study contains an English translation. A scoring system for the VPS is also explained in Chapter Three, in which four points are counted for ‘strongly agree’ and two points are counted for ‘agree’ responses to syncretistic practice questions (PQs), and two points are counted for ‘agree’ responses syncretistic belief questions (BQs). Zero points were counted for ‘neutral’, ‘disagree’ or ‘strongly disagree’. The VPS therefore had scores that ranged from zero to 88. The VPS allowed the researcher to make determinations about the extent of syncretism within the population (the percentage of the participants) as well as the depth of syncretism for each participant (the VPS score itself). The VPS was administered to 218 individuals who attended churches in the Church of God, Baptist, and Evangelical denominations in four urban areas (Milot, Plaine du Nord, Cap-Haitian Petite-Anse and Vaudreuil) and in three rural areas (Grand Bassin, La Jeune, and Maliarette). First, with respect to extent, the researcher discovered that 212 of 218 participants evidenced some syncretism of some kind (97%) only 6 of 218 showed no trace of Christian-voodoo syncretism. Second, with respect to depth, the researcher discovered that 84 of 218 (39%) evidenced low syncretism (VPS scores from 1-14), 94 of 218 (43%) evidenced intermediate-level syncretism (VPS scores from 15-30), 25 of 218 (11%) evidenced high syncretism (VPS scores from 31-48), and 9 of 218 (4%) evidenced super-high levels (VPS scores from 50-88). Thus, these results offer a more nuanced picture of Christian-voodoo syncretism in Haiti. The study concludes with recommendations for church leaders.
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“The trees fall from time to time, but the voice of the forest never loses its power. Life begins.”
Jacques Alexis, Les Arbres Musiciens (Paris, 1957)
Oral histories are a powerful tool in developing historical understanding
Oral history offers an alternative to conventional history, filling gaps in traditional research with personal accounts of historically significant events or simply life in a specific place and time. Oral histories do more than provide charming details to dry historical accounts. In fact, oral histories help others recapture lived experiences that are not written down in traditional sources.
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" Bwa pi wo di li wè lwen, men grenn pwomennen di li wè pi lwen pase l "
The tallest tree says that it sees far, but the seed that travels says that it sees even further.
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