Brief Notes on Antigua: June 29-July 6

(cross posted on Peter Marina’s blog)

Antigua: Sunday, June 29
Shirley Heights
Ocean Inn Hotel

A change of pace was needed on my return to the island that is now considered one of my homes. St. Johns was getting old and living in that small room with only the bare necessities a struggle. Time to move on, time for new pastures. I decided to find an apartment in the village of English Harbour in the south east part of the island. After a taxi to the west bust station in St. John’s, the bus takes about thirty minutes to English Harbour and passes through the villages of All Saints, Liberta, and Falmouth Harbour. Sunday night at Shirley’s Harbour, just west of English Harbour, hosts a hilltop liming event where locals and tourists lime to expensive beer and food while dancing away the hours to live Caribbean music. On the way to the regular Sunday event, Shirley Heights Lookout boasts truly impressive views of the Caribbean Ocean from up high. The views alone are worth the trip. My first night was at the Ocean Inn Hotel on a hill right on top of English Harbour. It was air-conditioned with Internet at $100 a night. Robert, the manager of Ocean Inn, seemed to not mention at the beginning of my inquiry that the $100 per night did not include taxes and other forms of nickel and diming. It was actually about $131 a night.

After inquiring around the village, I found an apartment in the middle of English Harbour behind a restaurant called Jackie;s Place. Jackie, a lovely woman proud of her Christian faith, offered a good deal (for Antigua anyway) of $500 a month. My month lease began on Monday, June 30.

At first, life in the apartment was just fine. There was water, sometimes hot water, a kitchen with a stove that fueled by a propane tank, a living room, and bedroom. Further, it was right in the middle of whatever action there is at English Harbour. On a side note, I also found a fish market near the St. John’s market where one can buy fish fresh straight from the Caribbean. The fishermen dock and sell their fish to vendors who in turn sell the fish to customers. It was a joy to cook fresh fish in my temporary apartment.

Life in English Harbour moves slowly with little if any action. It is the slow season prompting most businesses to close their doors, save for a couple of restaurants. My apartment is about a five minute walk to Nelson’s Dockyard where Archaeologist Dr. Reginald Murphy manages a restored 18th century British naval base led at one time by Captain Horatio Nelson. I made numerous attempts to find Murphy but only managed to get his number from one of his colleagues.

From June 30th to July 6th the following noteworthy events occurred:

  • Set up interview with Antigua Catholic priest. Met him, shook hands. He studied Sociology at University.
    • The interview is set up for when I return to Antigua from St. Kitts, St. Martin, Dominican Republic, and Haiti.
  • Met with Mathew Noyce numerous times with our usual talks about life, religion, philosophy, morality, ethics, and the everyday world. As usual, I would accompany him to work, running errands, and eating lunch at Nash’s Place.
  • I interviewed Reverent Nigel Henry of Barbuda Pentecostal Church in Codrington for the first time. He was to become an important figure in my research, and someone who I relate to on a personal level.
    • Nigel was doing some banking when we met from a previously planned appointment.
    • He was banking and running some general errands. We ate breakfast together, drank coffee, and walked to the Antigua PAWI office.
    • I interviewed Nigel for about an hour and a half or so (taped). We talked about PAWI and other issues central to my research including:
    • How PAWI has a new look. Although PAWI headquarters are located in Trinidad, the organizations is in the process of decentralizing as new leaders emerge from different, and smaller, islands. Right now there is a conscious effort to decentralize from Trinidad authority. In the past, big islands like Trinidad did not want to give up power to smaller islands. Nigel says that part of this is due to bigger islands not taking smaller islands seriously.
    • PAWI has four districts in Trinidad and a national council over all districts in Trinidad. But Trinidad seems to be no longer the boss making all PAWI decisions.
    • In fact, the biggest PAWI church belongs to Stephen Andrews in Antigua.
    • He discussed the book Ablaze with me as well as Blazing the Trail written about PAWI in Antigua by the wives of two pastors. More on this later.
    • The differences between the “ordinary” and “special” Charismatic Christian leader. Antigua Stephen Andrews and Trinidad John Andrews definitely fall in this category, he says. Nigel also says that “special” or what I call charismatic men, do not play by the same rules. They have more or less used charisma to grow operations within PAWI beyond what most people accomplish. This growth refers to the size of the church, the amount of churches and districts where one can found a new church, and economically. These men are special, he says, and this has something to do with keeping charisma in an increasingly institutionalizing charismatic movement. On a side note, I will later argue that the irony is that it is the continued division in the church that keeps it charismatic here in the Caribbean.
    • We also discussed how PAWI is built on a combination of loyalty and the prestige it offers to pastors. I inquired into why pastors would want to remain with PAWI and pay their tithes to the organization. Although this is all on tape, the response amounts to “loyalty” and the social capital it offers to pastors trying to look more legitimate. It is not too far from how it is for professors; the better your graduating university, the more legit one appears.
  • I met with Environmentalist Dr. Murphy from Nelson’s Dockyard.
  • Nigel and I agreed to meet in St. Martin, in fact, we were meeting on the same plane. Doing the LIAT shuffle, I was already to be in St. Kitts when his plane heading for St. Martin was to first land in St. Kitts. It was expected that he would already be on the plane scooping me up from St. Kitts.
  • I attended Andrew’s SJPC House of Restoration church on July 6th.
    • I audio and video taped much of the service. Of most interest was the – what I call “rapid” or “speed” exorcisms that occurred for about an hour towards the end of the service. All this is taped and will be posted on my website.
    • I will also later use this video for added descriptive notes in the book.
    • Made contacts with Andrews for connections to St. Kitts and St. Martin
    • Also, during my intended service, a guest congregation member offered a testimony (or prophecy, something) giving warning of three spirits invading the Caribbean, including Antigua that have names and special characteristics/attributes. They are especially relevant during Carnival season. (These notes are in previous pages.) He was from another church and Andrews asked him to attend. Here are some notes on these spirits:

House of Restoration Church Service
July 6th, 2014

Service is about “secret keepers.”

My thought: perhaps – and ironically – it is the division in the church that keeps it charismatic.

1:04-1:05 into tape
Man giving testimony
Three spirits:
(1)Mia (Maya): Poka(?) spirit from Jamaica; when in the body, takes the body airborne.
(2) Spirit of Sue: From Japan to America to Antigua. No medication works-doctors will medicate you up – take you to “crazy house!” In crazy house, many people are not crazy but rather possessed by demons; mistaken.

From Mes 15-20: “Speak like you are going crazy.” “Start running like you are crazy. Spirit speaks to you like you are going crazy.”

This is all during Carnival season; three spirits.

Physical versus mental versus spiritual disease.

In carnival, spirits invited. Release of drugs during Carnival.

(3) Shakira Spirit: wizard spirit; homosexual. Male wizard (it’s on internet); old male wizard. He will make young men gay and bisexual; want to go both ways.

[Church audience gasped, says “ohhhh hallelujah, amen, Jesus!” etc. with each new introduction to evil spirits to this Carnival spirit.]

Firework sounds during points of emphasis in background, usually during upbeat positive moments.

Church service goes as follows: music, preaching, tithes, announcements, testimony, communion, and sometimes altar calls or rapid exorcisms.

“Antigua must be saved.”

Sound system: music plays during tithes, and while people eat bread during communion. Communion mixes ritual and charisma, ritual in that it is routine, and common words are spoken, but allows for spontaneous message, prophecy, sudden emotions and feelings. In fact one hour of rapid exorcisms ensue after communion. This is all video and audio taped. An assistant at the end of the service summarizes what happened, service over.

After the service, there was a baptism of about ten people located at Buccaneer Cove. The baptism took place in a quiet yet absolutely beautiful Antigua Beach, postcard perfect. Each soon to be baptized congregation member received a brief introduction and was provided the opportunity to give their brief story (or testimony) into their path of becoming a born again Christian. Two men stood in the water to dunk the new converts into the Caribbean, immersing them completely into the water. I interviewed the woman who hosted the event about her first experience becoming baptized. I have pictures and audio-recording of this baptism.

The next day after this interview, I left for St. Kitts to meet with Bishop Errol Bartholomew, General Administrator of PAWI in St. Kitts and the new pastor of Christian Life Assemblies. I’m out of Antigua now for two weeks to visit St. Kitts & Nevis (July 7-11), St. Martin (July 11-13), Dominican Republic (July 13-14), Haiti (July 14-17), and back to Dominican Republic (July 17-20). My third round of Caribbean travel follows next.

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