Having taught intro classes in World Religions, and after years active in interfaith work, I thought I was fairly familiar with the “Great Religions.” Turns out, I still have a great deal to learn.
To truly understand our world we have to have a working knowledge of world faith traditions. Religious or not, a certain degree of religious literacy is necessary.
Today’s column presents a brief introduction to Yoruba:
“Ifa [Yoruba] is one of an interrelated network of religions with African roots, including Vodou, Santeria and Sango Baptism, that appear to be gaining popularity in the United States, including in Maryland, as some African-Americans seek a spiritual experience firmly grounded in their own cultural heritage.”
“These traditions are indeed growing in the U.S.,” says Albert Wuaku, a professor at Florida International University who specializes in African and Caribbean religions. “They have a strong appeal to groups of African-Americans who have been struggling with questions of identity, who don’t feel they fit so well within the American system. They’re especially appealing to women, who tend to hold more powerful positions within the African traditions than in Western cultures.”
from The Baltimore Sun
(note: it’s easy for us to condescend and judge more deeply-rooted indigenous traditions as “primitive” and “superstitious.” Critique is important, yet the wise and rational way to learn about new thoughts, beliefs and practices is to approach with respect and curiosity, ask questions, hear from the believers. With a better understanding of the history and culture, more balanced decisions and conclusions can be considered. This applies to any serious literacy when it comes to any religions)