Osha, like many religions, appeals to those who have problems that need to be addressed by a third party, and also to those whose lives are unusually hazardous and want protection of some sort. For eminently pragmatic reasons the religion is the choice of those in high-risk professions: deep-sea divers, boxers, certain gamblers, smugglers, artists, drug dealers in particular. Entertainers, curiously enough, are also found in these ranks. Practitioners fondly remember Desi Arnaz and at least his surface homage to Osha by opening his act with the chant of “Babalu” culminating with the full name “Babalúaiyé” (the orisha of disease and health). The practical reliance on Osha may be a celebration of use, as in the maxim, whatever works in any world: the prayer, the amulet, the incantation, the money bribe for border patrols, favors for the agent to get a movie role. But the ordinary, risk-averse person also turns to the religion for help. An individual might have a health problem, for example. He goes to an olorisha for assistance. Suddenly his problem is not his alone. It now also belongs to the olorisha. The olorisha will usually begin by trying to determine the cause of the problem, whether the client has a natural illness, for example, or if the origin of the health problem is supernatural, say the result of someone working magic on him.
KeywordsReligious Community Liberal Democracy Sacred Text Original Intent Political Society
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- 1.The emphasis in Osha on practice instead of prior belief corresponds with Aristotelian and Catholic orientations rather than Luther’s emphasis on faith over good acts. The preoccupation of the Catholic Church with ceremony is well documented. Peter Ackroyd, in his biography, Thomas More (New York: Anchor Books, 1999)Google Scholar
- 5.Hercules makes a first appearance in R. Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978)Google Scholar