Bacchanalism, Christianity, the Confusist, and Carnival

Unlike Confucianism which promotes humanism[1], the Confusist has no such restrictions. His role is simply to ask and unmask in equal portion. On the rare occasion however when the Confusist plays the Devil’s Advocate for the Christian right there should be some measure of concern.

That the Christian right in Trinidad & Tobago failed to promote the slightest material opposition to the firestorm of “Bacchanal” which swept the Carnival 2012 celebrations is telling. Where are the defenders of the faith, and more importantly “what exactly do they stand to lose” by specifically speaking out against the concept of a “Bacchanalian” carnival, and educating the partying public to the line that separates a unique cultural festival from borderline hedonism and idolatry. (note: given that Easter celebrations may be similarly linked to the worship of Eostre, a goddess of Germanic paganism, the reluctance may be understandable).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship…Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money etc.” [2]


The song “Bacchanalist” explicitly refers to the freedoms associated with T&T carnivals, as in the catchy lyric, “this foot is mine.., and you can’t tell me what to do”; it  also promotes the 3D concept of Dancing, Drinking, and Debauchery. This is typical of most years, but the difference this year is that the term “Bacchanal” has roots to the Roman God Bacchus…. also known as the Liberator,

“whose wine, music and ecstatic dance frees his followers from self-conscious fear and care, and subverts the oppressive restraints of the powerful.”[3]

Without reaching across the pulpit, one may argue that Trinidadians understand the difference between substance and form. Yet there exist standards, and benchmarks that are sometimes unclear. A hedonist for example does not differentiate between deriving one’s pleasure from serving God or mammon, arguing that “pleasure is the only intrinsic good.”[4]

In times past there was a clear line of demarcation between Christmas, Carnival, and Lent.  While the celebrations have retained historical borders, the spirit and substance of Carnival has infused the Christmas celebrations, and threaten the Lenten season as well. One can ask the question, for example, who is the true alcoholic?

a) One who loves to drink, but is seldom seen drunk in public,

b) One who drinks occasionally but when he does usually ends up drunk,

c) The teetotaler who sacrifices life and limb for the occasional drink (think abstaining from antibiotics during Carnival week).

Point being that there are many flavors of celebration and one should always question the alignment with one’s philosophy, (given that one does indeed have a philosophy (Epicurean, Hedonistic, Christian etc,,) to begin with).

2012 Carnival Revellers/"Bacchanalists"

The problem in a nutshell is that someone needs to take a stance, albeit balanced. The Catholic Church and Christian community doesn’t get to take a “pass on this one”, or defer arguments to the post-Carnival period. Society always needs balance, and guidance. For all the beauty of carnival there are stories of excessive drinking, juvenile stabbings, car accidents, and economic opportunity costs. What one may view as collateral damage is not necessarily the norm. Carnival is not for everyone!

In true Confusist fashion one need not necessarily pay heed to an argument…. one simply requires that the argument be articulated, and that all proponents have their day in the sun…. some people need perspective.

Disclaimer: Carnival 2012 was a blast!!


One Response to Bacchanalism, Christianity, the Confusist, and Carnival

  1. tenecia20 says:

    A titillating and noetic piece SM. Two thumbs up!!

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