This line from the lyrics of one of the current musical mutations has given me much food for thought. Not that the line itself was nourishing but what it suggested awakened certain ideas in my mind. The chanter was evidently seeking to justify the character and content of his performance by his message.
Recently, I was speaking to a group of over fifty kids and young people at the closing program of a vacation bible school out in the country. I asked them, “What do we celebrate at Christmas?”
They replied, “The Birth of Christ.”
Then I asked, “What do we celebrate at Easter?”
“The resurrection of Christ,” they responded.
My final question was: “What do we celebrate at Carnival time?”
There was silence for a moment. Then one kid blurted out: “JAB!”
They all seemed to have concurred with the answer.
Jab of course is the local parlance for Diablo, or Devil. For instance, La Diablesse is the “female devil (or “deviless, if you please”). In other words, as I explained to them, Carnival is the celebration of the devil. It is the one occasion in the year when people feel free to indulge their thirst for alcohol and sexual immorality without restraint. The alcohol is the drink offering to Satan and the fornication is a way of worshiping the La Diablesse who is a type of Diana or Venus or Astarte or Isis.
The base songs are for “satanic praise and worship.” In some ancient and modern cultures temple prostitution including sodomy was part of idolatrous worship. Of course some may argue that Carnival goes back to the days of slavery and may even be similar to Crop-over in Barbados. Be that as it may. Carnival is more universal than what takes place in the Caribbean. Its presence is evident in Louisiana and Brazil among other cultures. However, one observes little that bears resemblance to any historical or cultural myths in connection with the songs being sung or the activities and conduct being portrayed in our Caribbean Carnival practices.
But what is culture really? The word has its roots in “cultus”, religion. So the culture of a nation is really its religion, the soul or spiritual dimension of a people. It is the heart and character of a society that has been developing over the years as a result of natural and circumstantial experiences. The culture consists of its norms and mores, its myths and legends. From the soul of a nation emerges its songs and poems as well as the expression of its world view.
Cultural expressions also reveal a people’s concept of the supernatural. A culture encompasses both good and bad and these are often defined by its religious functionaries and wise men. Of course the culture of a nation has to be judged to determine what elements of it is acceptable and what is not. Because a thing that is cultural does not make it right.
Political and cultural correctness have replaced the biblical consensus that used to influence the flow of our society. The standard by which we once determined right and wrong is now itself being judged by political expediency and novel cultural trends. There is now a low tolerance of good and a high tolerance evil.
Concepts such as truth and righteousness are being trashed, shredded, and consigned to file thirteen. Matters are now in reverse as the biblical grid through which we once viewed culture has now been replaced by a negative avant garde attitude towards morality. According to many, biblical standards have become obsolete because advanced ideas demand a new ethic.
The Caribbean culture is cosmopolitan but largely influenced by the Judeo-Christian worldview. European, Indian, North American, African, and Asian cultural components make up this unique regional society. The Judeo-Christian worldview informs our laws and institutions as well as our everyday conduct at home, in government, school, and the market place.
However, that is changing to the detriment of our society and nation. Many are claiming as our culture, elements which do not really belong to it. Others are showcasing base elements that ought to be shunned because it is neither edifying nor sublime. Some things ought to be left in the cellar or cleaned out but are certainly not to be hung out in the public domain. We should not be among those who engage in letting it all hang out. There is need for a cultural quarantine of that which is unacceptable and unappetizing.
We must be able to assess the value of what we hear, read, and see before embracing it within our cultural milieu. The Judeo-Christian worldview has served us well where it has been faithfully applied. However, it is being undermined and even bombarded by extraneous elements via new musical mutations and the media and as a consequence is losing its hold on our culture.
Our very destiny is being threatened by this insidious and invasive attack. May God open our eyes to what is happening and bring about a revival of faith, repentance, an embracing of his saving grace in Christ Jesus, and a return to the path of moral rectitude. For “righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.”