Cultural Event: Afro-Brazilian Religion with Dr. Lindsay Hale
I attended the lecture by Dr. Lindsay Hale on Afro-Brazilian Spirits. He discussed how he traveled to Brazil and studied their religion there. They believe in Godly spirits that “possess” certain people at specific times. There are many different spirits and each one has a story. Some of the “spirits” are slaves or children. The “spirits” are believed to be the ancestors of the Brazilians. Although not everyone can be possessed by a spirit, they believe that everyone has a spiritual mother and a spiritual father. The spiritual mother and spiritual father have specific traits; it reminded me of horoscopes.
While I enjoyed this lecture, at the same time I was a bit confused and slightly bored. It may have been the order in which Dr. Hale presented his information or my own inability to follow his presentation. I found it most interesting when he showed us pictures of his trips to Brazil and he even played a sound clip from one of the people who had a spirit in them singing.
I decided to attend this particular cultural event because I haven’t had a chance yet to really study foreign religions and I think it’s very interesting to see how different kinds of people worship. In the U.S., the majority of people who practice a religion are attending some kind of church or temple. In Brazil, their approach to religion seems different than in the U.S. My impression from Dr. Hale’s presentation was that religion seemed to be a huge aspect of these people’s lives. The people who had spirits “working” through them basically dedicate their lives to being a body for these “spirits.” This type of spirit religion is especially popular among the poor in Brazil. The poor are less educated which lends them to believe in far-fetched ideas more easily.
I’m skeptical when it comes to the idea of a “spirit” entering someone’s body and controlling them for a certain amount of time. It makes me wonder; couldn’t someone easily fake it and pretend like there was a spirit even if there wasn’t? Most of the people who have these “spirits” claim to not remember anything that happens when the “spirit” is in control. I’m very doubtful of the legitimacy of these “spirits” but at the same time I don’t it matters if they are truly real or not. The most important aspect of any religion is the power and strength it gives to its people. If believing that someone is controlled by a spirit gives you a stronger sense of faith and gives you security than it really doesn’t matter if it’s a far-fetched idea. I have always thought that people read into religion too much and take everything far too literally. People forget what religion is for. Although many of the people who worship these “spirits” in Brazil are uneducated, they seem to have a stronger and more passionate faith than even the most educated people here in the U.S. But then again, it’s impossible to compare two people’s faiths; that’s like comparing apples and oranges.