Dr. Patrick Bellegarde-Smith is the author of Haitian Vodou: Spirit, Myth, Reality, and spoke at Loyola about the misconceptions of vodou and cleared up a lot about the beliefs and cultures of the Haitian people. It was interesting to think about another religion and another culture, when the majority of Loyola students are white and study the beliefs of Catholicism. He made the point to say that all of the early religions came out of African beliefs. He also pointed out another difference in the religions in that people cannot be converted into practicing vodou. The people who practice vodou do not want people to be converted, since vodou is not for everyone.
He brought up various issues which relate to how people who study different religions view each other. One issue was the one of national identity, and how each person represents themselves and others. Haiti, on a worldly scale is seen as a rather large place, but to Americans it is seen as this small insignificant place. That is the problem people have today. They have these naïve thoughts about places and it draws such a huge gap between people, which cause unnecessary problems between people. This gap between cultures is present in everything we do. Dr. Patrick told of how Americans see things with thoughts of what is right and what is wrong, but then told of how the vodou faith, “operates on shades of grey.” They believe in things working together, rather than being apart. In the vodou faith they have a sign which looks like a cross, which tells of the deities coming together, but how we have two separate lines which show that to get to heaven, we must die. African people believe that humans being are the center being instead of God, since humans are the image of God.
In attending this event I learned about the differences in religions and also the similarities in people. After learning about vodou, I thought on how my religion reflected who I was as a person. Dr. Patrick really opened my eyes to the idea that we are all people, who have freewill to do things and have to deal with the consequences of our actions. If we all lived in harmony and accepted the fact that we are all human and are all equal there would be no separation of people, and there would be more understanding.