Abstract the view of death will determine the type of life and culture that the person and the society collectively will build. Understanding the view of death opens a door of understanding into the values that under-gird individual choices and cultural patterns;




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THE MEANING OF LIFE AS SEEN THROUGH THE WINDOW

OF DEATH RITUALS PRACTICED WITHIN

COLOMBIAN FOLK RELIGION

By
Dale R. Meade
B.A., Cincinnati Bible College, 1972

M.A., Wheaton College Graduate School, 1990

M.Min., Cincinnati Bible Seminary, 2003

A DISSERTATION

Submitted to the faculty

in partial fulfillment of the requirements

for the degree of

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

in Intercultural Studies/Educational Studies

at Trinity International University

Deerfield, Illinois

May 2005

Copyright 2005 by Dale R. Meade

All rights reserved


Accepted:


________________________________

Dissertation Director
________________________________

Second Reader
________________________________

Program Director
ABSTRACT

The view of death will determine the type of life and culture that the person and the society collectively will build. Understanding the view of death opens a door of understanding into the values that under-gird individual choices and cultural patterns; it may reveal the meaning of life within society. In a society like Colombia, which has developed a culture of violence, an understanding of the worldview related to death and the afterlife is the structural paradigm that is prerequisite to understanding the values of life which form culture.

This research uses the death ritual as a window for investigating basic values; indeed the meaning of life. This was done by observing the wake and funeral and then listening to the related value laden conversations and interviewing individuals who recently lost a loved one. These rituals and conversations reveal the most foundational of values that form the socially constructed meaning of life.

Analysis of the data demonstrated a universal belief among the informants in an afterlife, a fatalistic view of life and death, the need for the living to help the dead in transition, then an expectation of help from those who inhabit the spirit realm and are now in the presence of powerful spirit beings. The deceased, upon securing release from purgatory and arriving in heaven, repay the living by intervening with the powerful spirit beings to help them in the struggles of life. Men and women are thought to be judged by a harsh God upon entering the spirit realm based on how they fulfilled their gender specific roles while on earth.

There is a clearly defined social order in the levels of spirit beings. These spirit beings become models for human social structure. Machismo is the most visible of the socially constructed gender hierarchy that reflects the hierarchy within the spirit world. These roles are clearly defined in both the spirit and material world and are the subject of reinforcement in the chants of the magic words and conversations of the death ritual. Effecting change in individual worldview in Colombian society can be achieved only by transforming these gender role models.

I dedicate this dissertation to my beloved wife Jean who patiently endured many long separations so I could study and who willingly and capably shouldered the extra

work of managing family and home in my absence. Without her

sacrificial support for and encouragement

of my dreams this effort would have

never been possible

CONTENTS

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii
Chapter
1. THE NATURE AND SCOPE OF THE RESEARCH TOPIC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Research Concern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Research Problem Statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Research Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Definition of Argot Terms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Stated Assumptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Significance of the Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

2. THE PRECEDENT LITERATURE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

Historical Material . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
The Theory of Folk Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
The Theory of Ritual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
The Theory of Death . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Ethnographic Studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
Latin American Biographies and Colombian Literature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
Biblical and Theological Literature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Academic Journals, Theses, and Ph.D. Dissertations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
3. RESEARCH DESIGN AND PROCEDURE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
Case Study Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
Participant Observation Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79

Operationalization of the Research Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
Research Location . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
Data Collected . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93

4. THREE DEATH RITUALS OBSERVED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99

The Wake in Restrepo, Meta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
The Wake in Villavicencio, Meta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
The Wake in Bogotá, Cundinamarca . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
The Novenario or Ninth Day Mass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158
The Desentierro or the Disinterment of the Remains. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163
Cremation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168
Rituals of Lesser Significance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169
Additional Observations and Thoughts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173
5. FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURES OF THE DEATH RITUAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
Primary Extrapolation of the Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
The Death Ritual as a Socio/Religious Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
Ritual Components and Their Meaning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
The Wake . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
The Requiem Mass and Burial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191

The Novenario; the Ninth Day Requiem Mass. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196
Aids in Communication with the Spirit Beings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197

The Cult of the Dead: el Culto de las Animas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199

The Disinterment—Confirmation of Status . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200

The Death Ritual Analyzed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203
Communication and Commerce with the Spirit Beings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206
Purpose and Intent of Communication in Orthodox Religion . . . . . . . . . 210
Purpose and Intent of Communication in Folk Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
Communication with the Spirit Beings in the Underworld . . . . . . . . . . . 213
Conclusions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215
6. FUNDAMENTAL SOCIAL STRUCTURES OF THE SPIRIT WORLD . . . . . . . . 219



The Schematic Diagram of the Socio/Religious Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 219
A Search for Intermediaries and Power Relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 222
High Level Spirit Beings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 224
The Nature of God in the Death Rituals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225
Mary: Loving, Forgiving, and Non-judgmental . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227

El Divino Niño: The Divine Boy/Child—Children Never Criticize . . . . 232

Secondary Level Spirit Beings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 234

The Saints: They Struggle Like We Do . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235

Orthodox Saints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235

Folk Religion Saints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237
Dead Relatives: You Always Stick up for Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239
Lower Level: Underworld Spirit Beings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 242
Dealing with the Devil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243
The Souls of Those Who Died a Bad Death . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243
Gate Keepers: The Human Helpers of the Spirit Being . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 246
Rezanderas and Curas: The First Level in Folk and Orthodox Religion . 246
Teguas and Curanderas: They Know Secret Words . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
Shamanes and Brujas: They Help You Get Even . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250
Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 252
7. FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURES OF MALE/FEMALE RELATIONSHIPS . . . . 253
Gender Hierarchy in the Physical World/ Spirit World Symbiosis . . . . . . . . . . 253
Gender Specific Role Models . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 255
Social and Religious Meaning for Women . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 262
Women are the Primary Intercessors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 263
The Good Woman Is Submissive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 265
Bearing Male Children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267
Purity = Virginity or Chastity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269
Suffering with Resignation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 273
Devoted to Sons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 275
Loving, Merciful, and Forgiving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 280
Concluding Thoughts about Women . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 282
The Social and Religious Meaning for Men . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 283
Men can Aguantar: Bear Hardship and Endure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 293
Men Are Followers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 295
Honor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 298
Sexual Conquest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 301

Guardian of Family and Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 309
Alcoholic Drink and the Absentee Father . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 312
Die The Good Death . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 317
Concluding Thoughts about Men . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 319
7. RESEARCH CONCLUSIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 321
Missiological Implications for Evangelicals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 328
Missiological Implications for Roman Catholics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 345
Suggestions for the Activist Social Scientist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 357
Possible Implications for the Magisterial and Psychological Professions . . . . . 364

Some Final Thoughts and Dreams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 366
APPENDIX: Diagrams and Photographs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 377
REFERENCE LIST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 384

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Figure


  1. The Schematic of Socio/Religious Relationships and in the Death Ritual . . . . 221

  2. Gender role and spiritual roles for men and women . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 376

  3. Death Announcement Poster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 377

  4. Condolences and invitations to the wake as published in the newspaper . . . . . 378

  5. Picture of a rosary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 379

  6. Pictorial portrayals of nature of the Virgin Mary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 380

  7. Pictorial representations of nature of Jesus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 381

  8. Scapularies as used in the death ritual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 382



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
As with any human endeavor of great significance, there are many individuals who make the final accomplishment possible by their encouragement and selfless dedication through teaching, mentoring, and modeling the characteristics and knowledge necessary for achieving the desired goal. This is certainly the case with a Ph.D. program. Yet in an attempt to give credit where it is due there is also the humbling realization that many others have contributed and yet could not be listed. So with that reality in mind I would like to thank and deep appreciation to the following individuals that have made my arrival at this cherished goal a possibility and then a reality.

Dr. Robert Priest, whose patience insistence that I discipline myself to look to the data and from that data derive the facts served to help me to overcome some of my gravest shortcomings. In this way he transformed me from a person who tended to jump to quick and facile conclusions into a budding social scientist.

Dr. Paul Hiebert, whose life and service first inspired me to want to learn from him. My first class was under him. When in a moment of discouragement I was ready to end my pursuit of this dream another class with brother Paul inspired me to continue. It was only fitting that my very last class was also one of his that would guide me in this dissertation.

Dr. Tite Tiénou, a man of quiet humor and great dignity who challenged me to think of the nature of God and the implications for the human race in a vastly different manner in which as people we reflect the greatness of God by the very nature of our likeness and by our differences.

Dr. Jim Plueddeman, who inspired me with his vision and in doing that, helped me to see a vision of a world transformed. In his teaching I found the hope that we can truly transform the world by transforming people to lead the way to that better life in this world and the next.

Drs. Duane and Muriel Elmer, the husband and wife team that demonstrated to me the importance of being able to share the message in an effective way by leading others to self-discovery and fulfillment. With their gentle tutelage I realized that we must be effective teachers if we are to be effective in any way.

Dr. Harold Netland, who taught me to respect and accept those whose religion I differ with even while I continue to be the evangelical Christian that I am. His encouragement to move into the PhD program came at a critical moment when I had to make a very important decision.

Dr. Evan Hsu, a dear brother who invited me to share his apartment when the lack of living quarters meant an end to my dream of study at Trinity. From that kind hospitality there developed a deep appreciation of his pastoral nature and his brotherly love.

To those people in Colombia who so generously allowed me to share in their lives and suffering as they attempted to deal with the loss of a loved one. They were far more than cultural informants; they became friends and fellow sojourners on an identical road of the human search for the meaning of life in the face of the harsh reality of death.

A final word of gratitude must be expressed to my family that with great patience and tolerance supported me at every step and to all of the churches and individuals who were so very kind and generous as they continued to support me with prayers and financially during my extended sabbatical as I worked to finish this educational dream and goal.

To all of these people and many more whom I could not mention in this limited space, I humbly recognize that I could have accomplished none of this without their selfless support and generous encouragement. So all I can do at this time is to say thank you very much, and may God richly bless each one of you just as you have so richly blessed me.


CHAPTER 1

THE NATURE AND SCOPE OF THE RESEARCH TOPIC
The meaning of life held by every individual is in part determined by that person’s view of death. The way a person will live in this world is affected by the views that the person holds of death and life in the spirit world. So the manner in which we view death is a primary determining factor in the way we live. The value assigned to life is filtered through a lens comprised of the way death is understood and experienced within a culture. So a culture’s view of death is a window into that culture’s meaning of life. The nature of life and death within Colombian popular culture seems to indicate to many observers that life holds a very low value for many in Colombia. When a low value is given to life itself this invariably points to a very high value given to some other value within life which justifies and cultivates such a willingness to sacrifice life. In such a case the meaning given to living and dying within the cultural worldview of a people becomes a means to justifying one’s existence on this earth. The problem is to understand what that other value or meaning to life might be. That is the point of departure for this study.

Violence has been a ubiquitous aspect of Colombia for most of the country’s history. Death is an integral part of the fabric of daily life. Even before the current cycle of violence most families had lost one or more sons to the violence related to the defense of personal or family honor (Bermudez Q. 1992). The family of one research participant alone had lost three sons to what appears to be a cultural phenomenon. This harsh reality has given many people in Colombia a very different view of death and meaning of life from what I had absorbed during my childhood cultural formation in the United States. During thirty years of working in Colombia the commonly held view of the meaning of life had eluded me, as I simply presumed at first that most people in Colombia would view life much as I did. But the very common fatalism, the admiration shown for a
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