Reading mama Lola has made me understand that religion is all about observing certain religious believes rather than just being part of a religious sect. Every religion is directed towards a supreme being, yet the religious proceedings are dependent on where an individual was brought up. Many times, people condemn others for observing certain religious rituals, terming them evil, yet they do not understand the reason behind it. One unique feature about religion is that anyone who dedicates his or her life to it feels it is the right form of religious worship. Religion plays an important part in an individual’s life, that requires utmost dedication. When a person starts having doubts about what they believe or follow, then such a religion becomes meaningless to them.
Mama Lola was brought up in a community that believed in rituals and observing certain religious practices. Just like any other devoted member of a religious sect, she believed in what she practiced and even sought to preach the message to other people. She believed in the fact that observing religious rituals gave her hope, peace and even healing (Brown 57). It is her exemplary dedication that made her stand out in a male dominated society at the time to become a priestess. All that mattered to her was the course that she was living for. Her dedication was not exactly meant to give her fame and titles in the society but rather to assure her followers that what she was living for was worth holding on to. Mama Lola played an important role in exposing the vodou religious practices to the world, and hence eliminating the stereotypes and misunderstandings that were associated with it. Through her dedication, people were able to understand that it was not just another black magic, but religious believes that provided hope and spiritual nourishment to the followers.
Reading mama Lola has also helped realise it is wrong to pass judgement without understanding what a religion entails (Lola 83). Most of the time, people pass judgement basing on what they have heard from other people, rather than what they have come to understand. Even when certain religious believes do not make sense to a person, it is wrong to pass judgement. What may not be of benefit to one person could actually be benefiting another person. Religion is all about belief and dedication. The faith and trust that a person has towards certain practices is what will shape their spiritual life. As long as a religion is not encouraging evil practices, then it makes sense to those that follow them. Mama Lola is an example of how rewarding it is to follow one’s conviction. By helping people understand what vodou was all about, they are able to accept and appreciate the religion even more.
The writer compares the aspects of religion as presented in vodue and other religions such as Christianity and Islam. The comparison implies that every devotee inclines to a religion that favours his or her religious practices and their way of life. The sprouting of many religious organisations is birthed by the changing needs of people who need to be accepted by a certain religion.
The writer is amazed at the nature of religion which has historical and cultural roots. Despite all this, it is not limited to a particular region and cane hence be transferred. This implies that religion and religious practices are more about the person following them rather than their origin. A person can hence survive in a different cultural region and still observe religious practices that suite him or her.
Brown, Karen McCarthy. Mama Lola: A vodou priestess in Brooklyn. Vol. 4. Univ of California Press, 2001.
Lola, Mama. "a Vodou priestess in Brooklyn." Berkeley: U of California P (1991).