Colonial/Religious Thoughts in Salvador

Writing this in the dead of night in the lovely old city of Salvador, Brasil.

I remarked to Ewa yesterday that it seems to me that all the old colonial empires were fueled by a demand for inessential goods (sugar, coffee, tea, spices, opium, gold etc.).

After visiting all the stunning Portuguese cathedrals I wondered allowed to Ewa how strange I found it that Catholics around the world can share that singular common relgious connection. I’m more familiar with the multitude of different Protestant denominations without one central Protestant leadership (like a pope). What a way to build an empire…to make everyone think and believe the same. I momentarily lamented that I didn’t know what it’s like to be part of such a major group myself having backgrounds in different ethnicities (yet not feeling totally connected to either) as well as fringe evangelical upbringing. But then I remembered…I’m born American so I can’t really feel too much the outsider now can I.

We went to a Candomblé ritual tonight in a Favela. It’s a religion with roots in Africa that was syncretized by slaves in Brazil going all the way back to the 16th century. I was amused at how familiar it all was. It looked very evangelical to me. There are heavy congas and the people dance around and chant together in what feels exactly like an inner city Latin American church (I have been to a few in my childhood). Then it takes a more ‘pentecostal’ turn and the people allow themselves to be filled with some sort of spirit ghost. Some of them bump into each other, some fall down, some cry uncontrollably, others shout unintelligible sounds. I’ve witnessed this behavior in a few evangelical churches too. The Argentinian next to me was very uncomfortable. Myself, I can only say that I felt..well, a little bored. I used to get bored in church when I want as a kid and it felt exactly the same way to me. This brings me back around to my previous post…self obliteration. Religions, meditation, concentration are all the same experiences. Dare I suggest that evangelical worship, at least its Latin American expressions, derive from Candomblé and Africa?

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