Isaac Kolevski
RLGN 201
Professor Howe
11/21 /16
Reflection 5
Vodou locates fault not inside persons (which by rendering them evil exposes them to harsh moral proselytism if not persecution or destruction for their own good) but in relationships between persons in the social field. As a healing medium, vodou seeks to dissolve whatever is holding people in hostile and antagonistic relations. It may be quite extreme in this work on unblocking, heating up the contradictions, conflicts, and inconsistencies within a person or in the social setting - disorienting, shocking at times - in order to create a liberating and revealing excitement. In Brown's account, vodou is the paradigmatic idiom by which a poor, politically oppressed, economically marginalized people live their lives with grace, dignity, and compassion in the spaces between the absolutes composed by intellectuals of more politically powerful and materially comfortable regimes. (Orsi,196)
In this passage , Orsi is detailing a method of ethical evaluation and the study of causal relationships between ethics and social factors. Vodou is a Hattian method of healing and understanding that emphasizes aspects of humans and the individual person's relationship to society as being unique and diverse. Orsi applies this thinking as well as deductions about this religion by an anthropologist named Karen McCarthy Brown to discuss a different approach to religious study and thought than what much of America participates in. This alternative that he proposes does not demonize an individual that has transgressed or offended society, but focuses on the relations that individual has with society; economically, politically and intellectually. Through this method of study the offender is not torn apart or cast as an outlier by the public, but rather looks at how environmental factors led to the transgression that this individual committed. Taking on a vodou frame of thought, one would realize that the offenders are generally marginalized, alienated or feeling powerless in their life that is dominated by a group they are not a part of. This alienation fuels actions by individuals that can seem heinous or unable to be understood by the general public. Orsi wants to identify cause and effect relationships in these actions and how systematic oppression, religious contradictions and other points of conflict an individual will experience.
This passage relates to a struggle of limiting bias and blame in religious study while still pursuing accurate understanding of faith and human action. This is a method that has not necessarily been addressed in class before. Orsi like other thinkers, does not want the "bad" in religion to be written off or covered up in religious study, but the sociological approach Orsi takes is somewhat different than other thinkers. Looking at religion as a way to cope with unfairness in life would fit this school of thought well. Fringe thinkers and extremists fit into this well as those who take action to regain their "fairness" or power that society has deprived them of. Extremists can exploit discontent in other people to build a following and structure followers' thoughts into a state where radical actions are likely to take place. In religious studies, specifically fringe or cult religion, the way of thinking that Orsi and Brown put forth seems to be a beneficial tool to promote clarity .