The Wine of Astonishment

by Earl Lovelace

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What is the "shouter baptist" religion in The Wine of Astonishment?

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Shouter Baptists are also known as "Spiritual Baptists." It is a religion that combines elements of Christianity and African mysticism (sometimes referred to as a "syncretic" religion because of the attempt to combine two seemingly contradictory elements). Shouter Baptists are primarily found in the Caribbean islands, hence it's appearance in this novel. It is believed to have been brought to the Caribbean by African slaves who fought for the British during the Revolutionary War. The term "Shouter" refers to the manner of worship in which the celebrants are seized by the Holy Spirit and often shout, clap, sing and dance around in a somewhat wild manner. This is similar to how the Shakers got their name (they rolled down the aisles shaking and convulsing, seized by The Spirit). Shouter Baptists claim to be Christian, although elements of their religion are superstitious in nature. This religion was prohibited by law in Trinidad and Tobago for many years (as depicted in the novel).

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