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Old 01-20-2010   #41
Beelzebubalicious
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Default Vice Guide to Liberia

This is a disturbing look in to Liberia's violent past (and present?). Reason I post it here will be obvious when you watch the video and hear all the references to drinking the blood of innocent children and eating people's hearts...

Anthropologist in me sees this as chest thumping stuff, but then again...
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Old 01-20-2010   #42
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Originally Posted by Beelzebubalicious View Post
This is a disturbing look in to Liberia's violent past (and present?). Reason I post it here will be obvious when you watch the video and hear all the references to drinking the blood of innocent children and eating people's hearts...

Anthropologist in me sees this as chest thumping stuff, but then again...
Very disturbing. "Chest thumping"? Maybe, but I would be extremely surprised if it isn't a) going on and b) accelerating in frequency.
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Old 01-20-2010   #43
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Default Liberia, the disturbing understanding of Christianity

I spend a year in Liberia in 2001 and I must say that human sacrifices were common things but noot accepted.
The population was against but, as described into Stephen Ellis book, it's the main counter power there. Liberia central State has been fighting against it basically since it's creation.

What is really disturbing in Liberia is that the symbolism into Christian religion has been used to legitimate canibal practices.

But I would also add this
1) it always has been a limited thing.
2) According too Ellis, Taylor deregulated the practice t make it common, accessible t all. And that's what sunked Liberia in a place that even the devil forgot (cf Liberians).
3) Population is against it and the deregulatioon of it has been one of the core reasons Liberia peace has been achieved through an in depth societal change: they elected a women!
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Old 01-20-2010   #44
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Default Hmmm...

You're right... disturbing and I thought I was past being surprised by the brutality of the human race... and we've essentially ignored (or worse) this area for so long...
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Old 01-20-2010   #45
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What is really disturbing in Liberia is that the symbolism into Christian religion has been used to legitimate canibal practices.
The symbolism has always been in the Christian religion, but it has usually been contained and blocked off (think about the debates over transubstantiation vs. consubstantiation). It was also been a major symbolic inversion used in the reconstruction of witches as Christian "heretics" during the 15th - 17th centuries ce or earlier against the cathars, the Bogomils, the Jews, etc.

Part of the reason why it was blocked off, other than the PR part about it being the "final sacrifice", is that Christian symbology has pretty much always known that blood magic is quite powerful in terms of manipulating perceptions, emotions and actions. I hadn't realized that Taylor "deregulated" it but, again, that's a pretty standard move in opposition to a dominant symbol system.
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Old 01-20-2010   #46
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Default It's Ellis not me

It's Ellis theory on Liberia, not mine. But I must say that it fitted well in the paysage.

About the Christian symbolic, yes I agree. The Christian rite is symbolic canibalism. But what is really disturbing is to face people who really believe that they did a Christian act by eating human flesh and drinking human blood.
Even if you're not Christian.
Taking distance with the subject of study does not help much.
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Old 01-20-2010   #47
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Hi MA,

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Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
It's Ellis theory on Liberia, not mine. But I must say that it fitted well in the paysage.
Point taken and, yes, it does fit....

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About the Christian symbolic, yes I agree. The Christian rite is symbolic canibalism. But what is really disturbing is to face people who really believe that they did a Christian act by eating human flesh and drinking human blood.
Even if you're not Christian.
Taking distance with the subject of study does not help much.
Those people who believe that they have committed a "Christian act" by doing so, they need to study their own religion. Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen .

Most cultures have a really strong taboo against cannibalism, except in certain, extremely limited, circumstances. Being able to distance oneself somewhat does let you deal with that, at least analytically, and to try and figure out what the barriers are.

Once that barrier has been breached, there are some very interesting "opportunities" that develop. For instance, people who start using blood magic, which is what this appears to be, are extremely susceptible to certain types of symbolic attacks. They tend to become paranoid in the extreme and, at the same time, become wide open to being psychologically manipulated, especially if they are inverting a dominant symbol system. Of course, that assumes that the people opposing them a) know what they are doing symbolically, and b) are prepared to "go the distance" as it were.

Cheers,

Marc
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Old 01-21-2010   #48
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Once that barrier has been breached, there are some very interesting "opportunities" that develop. For instance, people who start using blood magic, which is what this appears to be, are extremely susceptible to certain types of symbolic attacks. They tend to become paranoid in the extreme and, at the same time, become wide open to being psychologically manipulated, especially if they are inverting a dominant symbol system. Of course, that assumes that the people opposing them a) know what they are doing symbolically, and b) are prepared to "go the distance" as it were.
Yes... Well... I did not try.

What really amazed me in Liberia, at the opposite, was the fact that by deregulating this, Taylor was able to completely disrupt the social tissue.
Before Taylor, many tribes in Liberia were considering that once you have made war, you earn social respect. Basically war was view as a social elevator. Cannibalism (as magic practice) as a political counter power.

After Taylor (and during Taylor for me), the populations in the village did not accept the atrocities done by the youth (Who were forced most of the time).
They went too far. And most of the ex fighters, even if they believe they did the right thing, still were unconfortable with what they did.
But transforming yourself into a ghost to kill the ennemies was completely accepted...

Uganda and Great Lakes, is another story.
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Old 01-21-2010   #49
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Hi M-A,

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Yes... Well... I did not try.
LOL - I know - maybe, and it's a big maybe - half a dozen people who have the skill set and attitude necessary to do this. Trying to do something in this line without the skill set and attitude will just get you, and a lot of other people, killed in a really grizzly manner.

Quote:
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What really amazed me in Liberia, at the opposite, was the fact that by deregulating this, Taylor was able to completely disrupt the social tissue.
Before Taylor, many tribes in Liberia were considering that once you have made war, you earn social respect. Basically war was view as a social elevator. Cannibalism (as magic practice) as a political counter power.
I have to wonder why he did it. At a pure, gut level, guess - and please correct me if you know better! - I suspect he thought it was about on par with teenagers fooling around with Satanic rituals.

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After Taylor (and during Taylor for me), the populations in the village did not accept the atrocities done by the youth (Who were forced most of the time).
They went too far. And most of the ex fighters, even if they believe they did the right thing, still were unconfortable with what they did.
Yeah, I've run across that one before. It's nasty as all get out and has repercussions for generations. There *might* be a couple of ways to get rid of some of the effects, but I don't know enough about the specifics in Liberia to come up with more than the base structure.

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Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
But transforming yourself into a ghost to kill the ennemies was completely accepted...
Sure, why not? Long history of that in Central / West Africa (and other areas, too).

Quote:
Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
Uganda and Great Lakes, is another story.
Oh, yeah....

Damn, this is getting depressing. I think I'd better turn up the volume on my mp3 player (currently playing Allegri's Miseri Mei).....
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Old 01-21-2010   #50
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Default A personnal interpretation

Quote:
marct:
I have to wonder why he did it. At a pure, gut level, guess - and please correct me if you know better! - I suspect he thought it was about on par with teenagers fooling around with Satanic rituals.
Do not forget that Liberia has a very particular history. It's the only African country colonized by Black people (may be Sierra Leone also).
What I did observe there was: the natives, the original people of Liberia, dreaming of America (more gangsta rap than anything else but still America). And the Congos, the descendants of slaves imported to Liberia as Freemen, dreaming of a savage Africa (like in Tarzan I would say).
So you have 2 groups who built their representation of the opponent culture on that imaginary model made of Hollywood movies and cheap pulps.

Personally, I believe that Taylor (he is a "Congo" educated in US) just wanted to be "African" and terrorizes his adversaries. He also completely felt into the wired Christian interpretation of cannibalism and the magic force that eating hearts, sex and leaver of his adversaries would give him.
But he also destroyed purposely sacred lands, exposed the ritual masks… I really believe that he was in a total American dream of savage Africa.

Last edited by M-A Lagrange; 01-21-2010 at 09:39 PM.
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Old 01-21-2010   #51
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Default Jee, I spend a couple days

brushing up on some languages and I see all of this!

All of this talk of Christianity and cannibalism got me thinking. Have any of you ever read Smith's Jesus the Magician? For those not familiar, Smith's thesis was that Jesus was a black mage/con man/necromancer who studied in Egypt and picked up some bitchin' tattoos while he was there. All of his 'miracles' were not acts of God, but rather produced by Satan. The cult grew after his death and turned into what we have today. The book made a big splash in the day, but now it's read for entertainment, as a warning to undergrads of how not to do textual reconstruction, or as a Gospel among some of the tinfoil hat crowd.

Lagrange, I'm very interested in what you said about Taylor trying to be "African" and how such an identity was constructed using Hollywood/American stereotypes. For a long while, anything associated with African religion was thought to be one huge Satanic cult- witch doctors, cannibals- the whole 9 yards. I wonder how much of that mixed with some remnants of some gnostic groups that practiced such rituals is going on?
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Old 01-22-2010   #52
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Hey Graphei, that's what you get for taking a break !

Quote:
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All of this talk of Christianity and cannibalism got me thinking. Have any of you ever read Smith's Jesus the Magician? For those not familiar, Smith's thesis was that Jesus was a black mage/con man/necromancer who studied in Egypt and picked up some bitchin' tattoos while he was there. All of his 'miracles' were not acts of God, but rather produced by Satan. The cult grew after his death and turned into what we have today. The book made a big splash in the day, but now it's read for entertainment, as a warning to undergrads of how not to do textual reconstruction, or as a Gospel among some of the tinfoil hat crowd.
Yup, I read it. I think he read too much of the Gospel of Simon Magus !

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For a long while, anything associated with African religion was thought to be one huge Satanic cult- witch doctors, cannibals- the whole 9 yards. I wonder how much of that mixed with some remnants of some gnostic groups that practiced such rituals is going on?
Gnostic groups practicing such rituals? None of the gnostic groups I know practice anything like that although, in all fairness, some of the Lodges I know of do. You're not thinking of the slander against the Valentinians, are you?

My gut guess, and I'm hoping that M-A knows enough to correct me, is that there is some weird form of double syncretism going on here. If we look at most of the syncretic religions that come out of the slave era - locumba, candolbe, vodoo, santeria, etc. - there is usually a fairly heavy emphasis on possession states as a key to power. On the "dark" side of them, this gets mixed in with a lot of 16th-17th century Catholic magic in its formal, aka ceremonial, form with, I'll admit, a really nasty set of add-ons tying in with blood magic. Totally different from anything gnostic .
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Old 01-22-2010   #53
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I was taught to categorize any group as gnostic if they maintained that 'secret', esoteric knowledge outside of what was revealed would lead to salvation.

Regardless of their practices all gnostic groups presented a big problem for the early Church. One end of the gnostic spectrum incest, murder, cannibalism, bestiality, etc., was alleged, drawing the ire of the State and giving Christians a bad name. The more scholarly, philosophical bunch were quietly undermining the authority of the Church, adding to the problems the early Church fathers were having. I'm sure you can all figure out what happened next...

While groups like the Valintinians are gnostic poster children, there was definitely something else going on in the shadows that theologians and philosophers are loathe to talk about, but Classicists won't shut up about. It survives by mention in letters between Church fathers discussing the 'issues' and Roman officials gossiping. Most of the good evidence is held at the Sackler in Oxford under lock and key.
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Old 01-22-2010   #54
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Hi graphei,

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I was taught to categorize any group as gnostic if they maintained that 'secret', esoteric knowledge outside of what was revealed would lead to salvation.
Hmmm, we might want to start trying to differentiate; the term can be used in so many ways. For example, using your definition, we could include certain factions in the CIA !

Quote:
Originally Posted by graphei View Post
Regardless of their practices all gnostic groups presented a big problem for the early Church. One end of the gnostic spectrum incest, murder, cannibalism, bestiality, etc., was alleged, drawing the ire of the State and giving Christians a bad name. The more scholarly, philosophical bunch were quietly undermining the authority of the Church, adding to the problems the early Church fathers were having. I'm sure you can all figure out what happened next...
Hummph! Last frequency distribution spread I say for 50 - 150 ce had the Gnostics in the majority being attacked by a bunch of Plato loving fascists . Yeah, I've read a chunk of the allegations but they sound a little too Rush Limbaugh for me to credit. As for the scholarly bunch undermining the "authority of the Church"; good guys! Anyway, the modern, orthodox church doesn't come into being until Constantine creates his own with a healthy dose of Mithraism in it. This is what happens when you let bureaucrats run a religion....

Quote:
Originally Posted by graphei View Post
While groups like the Valintinians are gnostic poster children, there was definitely something else going on in the shadows that theologians and philosophers are loathe to talk about, but Classicists won't shut up about. It survives by mention in letters between Church fathers discussing the 'issues' and Roman officials gossiping. Most of the good evidence is held at the Sackler in Oxford under lock and key.
I've seen some of the stuff but, again, it really doesn't hold that much validity for me since we see the same accusations showing up time and time again for a whole variety of groups. As for Valentinus, he always reminded me a bit of Anton Levay . As you say, the dangerous crowd were the ones in Alexandria (e.g. the Gospel of Mary group). Too bad they couldn't take down the fascists who leter grabbed control....

Cheers,

Marc

ps. If you happen to note a "slight" bias, that's because it's definitely there
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Old 01-22-2010   #55
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Graphei, Marct

I will try to respond but I am absolutly not a religion speciallist. My field being politic and conflict/humanitarism.

In Liberia, the main influences are the secret societies. You have 2 secret societies imaginaries/sincretism/paradigm that met/clash and finally mixed in Liberia.
1) the leopard secret societies. With all the initiation or the adolescent going in the bush for a month to be taught the secrets of the tribe and some being chosen to become sorcerer but also to be part of secret societies. Also, during that time the individuals are no more human and some may die, eaten by the Devil of the Bush. Do not know what it recovers in reality. Ellis assumption is that it is a ritual practice of cannibalism (they eat the dead bodies) controled by being done out of the humanity environment. (the Devil of the Bush and the Bush Schools).

2) the francmacon imported from the US.

I think that the 2 found a sort of negative match in each others as secret societies are not really secret in West Africa and the Francs macon neither in US. (It's completely different in Europe).

Concerning the Hollywood/Pulp influence. It's my personal impression and analyse of what I saw and heard when I was there.
The fighters were high and listening Reagge, watching Rambo and Schwarzeneger movies. For them there was no difference between their reallity and a movie. A movie was scenes and stories filmed live with real people.
One of the blockbuster of all times in Liberia was the snuff movie of Samuel Doe (the former dictator in the 80) tortured by Prince Johnson (A Taylor lieutnant). All filmed by a PLO cameraman... It's basically a remake "live" of Scarphace. All what they want are the Swiss Bank Accounts details.
On the other hand, Taylor is a pure product of USA. Ha has a MAB but was caught dealing drugs, freed by CIA, trained in Lybia...
The urban youth were dreaming of "Boys in the Hood". They were listening Gangsta rap... Compare to their daily struggle to survive, this was paradise.

Both sides did construct their imaginary on "made in USA" cheap cultural products.

M-A
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