Tuesday, September 27, 2011

By the Ways of Faith / Reinaldo Escobar

By the Ways of Faith / Reinaldo Escobar
Reinaldo Escobar, Translator: Unstated

Our most powerful weapon: The unity of the nation.

Twenty years ago Cuba's Communist Party renounced atheism. I remember
those discussions in which some militants couldn't manage to understand
how it was possible that having a "scientific world view" could cease to
be a prerequisite for membership in the organization. "If we ignore
dialectic materialism," they said, "we are opening the way to dispense
with historic materialism and, with that, forget the struggle of the
classes and the rest of the communist principles." Taking a coffee break
during a pause in that fourth Congress, a seasoned Party militant with
captain's stripes on his military uniform explained to a young
colleague, "We've lost, don't you see?"

The expectation was that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of men and women
who had been refused entry into the only permitted party in the country
would have the opportunity, the honor, of acquiring the red card that
signified membership, but in fact the opposite occurred. Thousands,
perhaps tens of thousands of militant communists, and particularly those
who aspired to be, threw off the mask of atheism and began to visit the
temples, to baptize their children, or to place their Elegua — the
Santeria deity — by the door of their house. All religions gained a new
space and the churches ceased to be half-empty vaults where little
groups of old women prayed the rosary.

Twenty years later the Cuban leaders have not lost one iota of power,
they themselves attend the openings of new seminaries, and they accept
the blessings of all pastors. The hierarchy of some Christian
denominations and a good number of consecrated babalaos ask their
faithful to be obedient and to perform their prayers and incantations
for the health of the leaders and the success of their plans.

I always had a scientific world view, although I was never a member of
the Communist Party, but I can't stop wondering if there isn't someone
up there watching what's happening.

26 September 2011


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