[BSJ] Caribbean Regional Standards for 30-days non-objection

The following standards are being issued for thirty (30) days non-objection commencing 08 October 2018 to 06 November 2018. 

1.      CRS 32 Processed Foods – Pasta products – Specification

2.      CRS 42 Processed Foods – Ketchup

3.      CRS 53 Carbonated beverages – Specification

4.      CRS 61 Soap bars – Specification

Copies of these standards are available for viewing at the Bureau’s Main Office and four Regional Offices (Mandeville, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Savanna-La-Mar).


Caribbean Library Associations

  1. LIAJA – Library and Information Association of Jamaica:  The initiative to establish a library association was led by Mr. A. S. Bryant, the first Director of the Jamaica Library Service, as such a body was regarded as an ‘essential part of library organisation in the island.’ Accordingly in 1949, a year after the Jamaica Library Service was established, the Provisional Library Board approved the convening of a meeting of all persons working in libraries or having an interest in library development. The meeting was a success as 94 persons met at the St. Catherine Parish Library on July 14, 1949 and passed a resolution that the Jamaica Library Association be formed.
  2. ALJAS – The Association of Librarians in the Jamaica Library Service (ALJAS) was formed in 1975 by a group of “forward thinking” Librarians who sought to provide an avenue through which matters relating to the particular concerns of the group could be most suitably addressed.
  3. CIIP – The Cayman Islands Information Professionals (CIIP) is the first professional library and information science association in the Cayman Islands. It was founded in 2013 by information specialists, living and working in the Cayman Islands.
  4. ACURIL– The Association of Caribbean University, Research and Institutional Libraries (ACURIL) originated as part of a movement for Caribbean cooperation at the university level, initiated in the late l960’s by the Association of Caribbean Universities (UNICA). At that moment Sir Philip Sherlock, of the University of the West Indies, at Mona, Kingston, Jamaica, was its Secretary General.
  5. COMLA – Commonwealth Library Association: COMLA supports library associations in the Commonwealth by promoting the interests of libraries and librarians and facilitating networks for information delivery and exchange. Its membership comprises national library associations and major library institutions in countries that do not yet have an association. From 2002 librarians have been eligible to become individual members.
  6. LATT – The Library Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) was incorporated by Act No. 11 of 1985, which was assented to on 21st March, 1985.
  7. CARALL – Caribbean Association of Law Libraries: Established in 1984, the Caribbean Association of Law Libraries [CARALL] continues to be the only forum that focuses solely on the Caribbean law libraries and law librarians. The Association is committed to regional co-operation and networking among the libraries. It gives the Law Libraries of the Caribbean an opportunity to forge links, discuss  common problems and the information needs of their clientele and create ways in which greater regional Law Library co-operation could be achieved.
  8. LAB – Library Association of Barbados:
  9. LAB – Library Association of Bermuda: an active organization of enthusiastic professional librarians and paraprofessionals from all types of libraries in Bermuda. Whether it’s a small or large library, school media centre, college library, law or medical library, the goals of the members are the same. The librarians in Bermuda strive to enhance learning and to ensure access to information for every person on the rock.
  10. NALIP – National Association of Library and Information Professionals – Saint Lucia:  NALIP seeks to promote the value of Libraries and information units. Facebook page

"Freedom Paper"



August 1, 1838 was a special day for the enslaved people of Jamaica. They received their freedom paper. 178 years later, we join the exslaves and exhibit our “Freedom Paper”.

Ref. 7/340/1

Courtesy of the Jamaica Archives and Records Department

Stuff To Do This Summer – TalkTank

In this week’s vlog, we talk about what you can possibly do this summer, to occupy your time. Thanks to the UTech, Ja Students’ Union. Hosted by Craig McNally.

TalkTank is the number one vlog that provides tons of great advice and information to build life skills.

Each week TalkTank, hosted by Craig McNally, uploads great life skills information and advice. TalkTank is the number joint to find life hacks, little life cheats that will get you ahead. If this is your first time inside the Tank, thanks for dropping by. For more great life skills information and advice, be sure you subscribe to TalkTank. And don’t forget to LIKE n SHARE TalkTank with your social network. Thanks you for your support!

Thanks for watching TalkTank! ❤

My contact email: thetalktank@gmail.com

*The views expressed in this vlog are strictly my own, and in no way reflects the views of my employer.

‘MAY’ is Child’s Month

Happy Child’s Month Everyone….We are all someone’s child…..We belong….

As parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, godparents, whomever…..let us cherish, teach humility, speak life, protect, nurture, care, love, guide and listen to our children. It is our responsibility.

Child's month

Got A Bad Gift? Respond Like This!

Most, if not all of us at some time has received a gift that didn’t quite meet our expectation. In today’s TalkTank I share with you 3 tips, that will hopefully save you from that awkward ‘bad-gift-moment’.

Each week TalkTank, hosted by Craig McNally, uploads great life skills information and advice. TalkTank is the number joint to find life hacks, little life cheats that will get you ahead. If this is your first time inside the TalkTank, hosted by Craig McNally, thanks for dropping by. For more great life skills information and advice, be sure you subscribe to TalkTank. And don’t forget to LIKE n SHARE TalkTank with your social network. TalkTank, hosted by Craig McNally, thanks you for your support!




By Yulande Lindsay (shahinel@hotmail.com)

Michael Thelwell’s classic novel The Harder They Come, chronicles the journey of one man’s evolution from ‘country bwai’ to urban legend. On the surface, the book details Ivanhoe “Rhygin” Martin’s journey from his rural beginnings through his quest for musical stardom and riches to his emergence as a gunman, a folk hero, an anti-establishment symbol. However, a closer examination of this richly evocative work reveals a deeply rooted love for and an in-depth analysis ofJamaica and its society.

The novel is as its protagonist. It is “rhygin” – “spirited, vigorous, lively, passionate with great vitality and force…” (Thelwell, p. 398). It does what the movie could not; it presents an audience with a kaleidoscopic tapestry, colourful and vibrant, rich in historical, political and cultural details, which fully illustrate the Jamaica of the time. The characters are finely drawn, each one playing its own pivotal role in the development of the main character, Ivanhoe-turned-Rhygin. Miss Mando, his grandmother, represents his foundation, his grounding personality. From her, he learns the importance and values of his ancestors, the usefulness and essential nature of the land on which they work and dwell, it is from her teachings that he develops a strong work ethic which prevents him from descending into petty crime when he first arrives in the city. Their relationship is close although it becomes severely strained when Ivan expresses the desire to go to Kingston to become a famous singer. He unintentionally brings to the fore Miss Mando’s greatest fear, that he will leave the land, abandon her as her children have done, never to return. The rift remains unhealed when she dies.

The scenes of Miss Mando’ s death and subsequent funeral are some of the most powerful in the book, representing as they do both the past and future, remembrance and prophecy. The ceremony follows strictly the traditions of times past: the recounting of the circumstances of the death (how was she sitting, did she have anything in her hand, was it a difficult death, etc.), the gathering and full participation of the community, the elaborate and expensive coffin and the Nine Night festivities:

“…everyone knew that the spirit of the dead remained in the grave for nine days after death, emerging at night to wander around the familiar places of the departed’s life. This being so, it was necessary to have some formal activity- set-up, singing meeting, or a quiet watch-on each of those nights when the spirit would be wandering.

…it was the ninth night that was of significance. On this night when the spirit finally departed the world, taking its last leave of the living, there was a great celebration…”(Thelwell, p. 89)

It is on this night that remembrance becomes prophecy and Ivan’s future is becomes clear, for during the Kumina ceremony, Miss Mando’s spirit pays her final respects to attendant friends and family. Upon acknowledging the presence of her grandson however, the spirit begins to wail and mourn:

“Aieee! Mi pickney, mi pickney. Mi pickney. Fire an’ gunshat. Gunshat and bloodshed. Bloodshed and gunshat, waiee oh.” (Thelwell, p. 97)

The book is worth reading just for this first section alone. The description of rural life, the funeral rites and traditions and in particular the Kumina ceremony are so vibrant one can almost see these images as you read, hear the frantic drums of the kumina, experiencing the sheer power of band leader Bamchikolachi and his drum Akete as they call forth the spirits.

Thellwell’s description of Ivan’s bus trip to the city is priceless in its hilarity. His first glimpse and experiences of Kingston leave us feeling sympathetic towards the country boy as he is robbed, not once but twice by persons in whom he has foolishly placed his trust. It is here that we are introduced to the characters that eventually shape and influence the adult Rhygin, the heroes and villains of the Westerns that Ivan comes to love and after whom he begins to pattern his behaviour: the lone mysterious man, walking cool and unconcerned through a hail of bullets, emerging unharmed and triumphant. Ivan’s experiences roaming the streets, homeless and seeking work among the suburbs of St. Andrew introduce the reader to a Jamaica rife with racism which leaves Ivan bitter and angry, his dreams temporarily on hold as he struggles for survival.

Ivan is rescued from the streets by Pastor Cyrus Mordecai Ramsey, Defender of the Faith, who provides Ivan with a home and job, introducing him to his true love Elsa, Preacher’s adopted daughter and subject of his unhealthy obsession and in the process ironically, reacquaints him with his love of music and his ambitions. Preacher, as he is known, is strict and consumed with his own humility and while Ivan is grateful to him, he cannot quite embrace fully his strict faith and beliefs. It is this defiance and Elsa’s return of Ivan’s love which pushes Preacher into madness and ends in Ivan’s brutalization by an unfair justice system, step one in the evolution of Rhygin. Step two occurs when Ivan, fully pursuing his dreams of fame, encounters the corrupt system which rules the music industry in Jamaica. The encounter with the music producer Hilton, who represents the white elite, serves as a crucial turning point for Ivan, for it is not just the fact that he does not gain monetarily from his music, but he learns that Hilton, as a form of punishment for what he perceives as Ivan’s arrogance, withholds the record, telling the DJs not to ‘push it’, thwarting him of the fame he has long dreamed of.

Ivan’s final descent into Rhygin begins, not with his involvement in the flourishing ganja trade, but when he returns home to Blue Bay. He is shocked and deeply disturbed by the changes he has found. His home has been left to decay; the area has become a tourist mecca where the American dollar reigns supreme. Even a comical scene where Ivan discovers white Rastafarians for the first time is tinged with disbelief and not a little sadness. The visit shocks Ivan to the core, completing his split with the past, there is nothing left and Ivan literally becomes a man without a past. From this sense of self-betrayal and loss, emerges a man determined to become independently rich, leading him to confront those with whom he does business, challenging the status quo.

“I have made a record of crime history.”

                                                          Rhygin (Thelwell, p. 354)

Ivan’s full transformation is complete when he is betrayed by one of his cohorts and is confronted by members of the police force. After killing four of them, Rhygin becomes a murderer and folk-hero. Murderer to the white elite, the police and clergy who fear that Rhygin will become the articulation of a despair and anger that has hitherto only bubbled beneath the surface of the inner-city society and folk-hero to those who regard the police as ‘Babylon’ and ‘down-pressers’, tools of the wealthy whose role it is to keep in them unending subjugation. Rhygin gains his fame at last.

Michael Thelwell’s use of the Jamaican Creole contributes to the excellence of the book. Also, his comedic instincts are flawless (see he scene where members of the Rastafarian community, attempt to capture the city of Kingston). The Harder They Come is a must read for all those thirsting for good and consistent Jamaican literature. Its relevance has not waned as its themes of fame, corruption, lust, love and tradition are still applicable in Jamaican society today.

(Source: Rereading Jamaica)


By Demar Cornwall

(c) 2014

A church may be defined as an institution or group of people coming together to serve the same Supreme Being.  A church’s membership differs in size, ethnicity, gender and social class which contributes to personality differences within the body.  One’s personality has a combination of characteristics or qualities that forms his/her distinctive character, especially those personal characteristics that make one socially appealing (dictionary.com). Personality psychology seeks to describe the person as a whole and attempts to understand the individual differences and the universal traits. One’s personality may consist of five (5) major aspects: (1) Extraversion (2) Agreeableness (3) Conscientiousness (4) Neuroticism (5) Openness (Cherry).

Since the church has to deal with different personality types it should be able to deal with the challenges that may arise.  But what are the challenges? These challenges may stem from a sociological, religious and psychological point of view.  In this essay I will attempt to explain how problems such as social anxiety and narcissistic personality disorder can affect the Church and the individual within the context of the Jamaican society, additionally the church’s ability to manage personality differences in general will also be discussed.

Social anxiety otherwise called social phobia, may be defined as the fear of evaluation or judgment in social or performance situations (Cuncic). Cuncic states that, social anxiety may be elicited by a number of triggers, including formal interactions, such as public speaking; informal interactions, such as meeting a stranger; situations requiring assertive behavior; or everyday actions, such as eating in front of others. It is an epidemic that causes one who attends church to leave shortly after arriving because s/he is unable to handle the crowd.  People suffering from social anxiety often say that they feel nervous and awkward when they have to speak to others and are always concerned about what people are saying about them (Burger 209). They also have a problem when they are to meet new people or having to present to or address an audience and are always misunderstood by others. In some instances social anxiety affects a member of the church when s/he is placed in a certain post or given a certain task to do. According to Mormon Times, Dani Israelson had no problem with social anxiety until she was sent on mission in Jamaica. She stated that she became scared to get up in front of the class or when she was on teaching practice she would get nervous, as opposed to her “loud-mouth” and “super obnoxious” behavior in high school. In other instances ministers might walk off the pulpit while preaching, singing or reading the Bible because of this disorder. Social anxiety brings separation from the person it is affecting and the public and overtime without treatment would cause this barrier to become immovable/permanent.

The current treatment of social phobia or anxiety is exposure. According to Dr. Beckham, exposure, an initial goal of the therapist is to identify what the client is actually afraid of (16). He further states that it goes beyond simply labeling a situation such as, “public speaking” or “eating in public” but involves the full fear, which also includes for many people the fear of humiliation (16).  The technique of public humiliation can be used by pastoral counsellors in the church to assist the patient or members of the church in confronting their fear.  When an individual is placed in a situation where he/she has to encounter fears, the anxiety lasts for only a short period.  This is because the anxiety begins to decrease and the brain is then in a position to tolerate its environment without fear. This is the process of habituation which is defined by Princeton University as being “abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming”. The Church should find programmes to help the persons in the group to face their fears. These programmes should be designed to enable one to more deeply “experience” him/herself as well as their relationship with God and the Christian Community.

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is another form of personality issues that can affect the church and the individual.  This disorder is described as having an abnormal love of self, an exaggerated sense of superiority and importance and a preoccupation with success and power. Symptoms of NPD ranges from a person being self-centered and boastful to being arrogant or having strong attitude problems.  This disorder may be developed as a result of excessive pampering, abuse, neglect, trauma inflicted by parents or guardians among others (Cleveland Clinic).  The Cleveland Clinic suggests that this disorder is rarely evident in the childhood stage by stating that it is evident in the adulthood stage. In some churches, NPD is evident in the leadership and membership. Using their religion and the gift God has bestowed on them to be seen by the membership as a “hero”.  Even though testifying about how you overcome a situation or a trial is not Narcissistic Personality Disorder, someone who has evidence of NPD would be taking that situation out of proportion making it seem as if they were God; personally taking themselves out of the trial. NPD affected persons have little empathy for persons who are in need of help.  A good example is in a case where a church member or leader goes to the person affected with NPD about a family member who died a few hours ago. S/he being full of him/herself or lacking of empathy would disregard the person’s feelings, perhaps say something that would hurt them more or “belittling” the person’s situation or amplifying their own. The aim of the NPD affected is always to keep the spotlight on him/herself. In addition, they are most likely to exaggerate about their achievement (Cleveland Clinic). For example, having a PhD in Theology so I am closer to God than everyone else within Jamaica or the church.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not curable but it is treatable.  According to Mayo Clinic, personality traits can be difficult to change so therapy may take several years.  Treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) which includes family therapy and Group therapy. A pastoral psychologist using Cognitive Behavior Therapy, should be able to guide the narcissist to become aware of  painful feelings about him/herself that have led him/her to develop a narcissistic style and to become insensitive to the needs and feelings of others.  If the narcissist is “unsaved”, being converted and accepting the Lord as his/her Lord and savior can also be used to break the tendency of being a narcissist since submitting to Christ is a sign of humility.  It is to be noted however, that it will take a lengthy period to break this disorder and being a Christian does not mean you will be perfect.  The pastoral psychologist’s role is to gently show the patient his/her faults and to identify ways in which he/she can break from habitual impulses which causes him/her to think only about him/herself. If the person is married, marriage counseling could be implemented to assist the patient’s partner to cope with the issue at hand.  This also can be used to “gently” identify the faults of the patient. Very often spouses of a narcissist are affected with self-esteem problems and would help the spouse express his or her feelings to the patient which may improve his or her marriage.  In the event that the congregation has several members affected with NPD, leadership could form a small support group including persons in the wider community in an effort to control this disorder within the community.

In order to manage personality differences/disorders in the church, the minister or pastoral psychologist should be able to help persons who are affected by disorders to understand the basis of their issue and how the church can assist them in controlling the disorder even if it cannot be cured. The minister/pastoral psychologist should also give the affected person space to reflect on the situation and allow the person to discuss his/her observations. If the case is beyond the expertise of the psychologist/minister, the matter should be referred to someone who is better able to deal with it.

Effectively managing the personality variables in the Church or society can greatly decrease time spent on ongoing interventions that may be necessary for pastor (s) or supervisor (s) to undertake, it can also increase efficiency of tasks given, and create growth opportunities for the Church membership. Management of personality differences is important for the smooth running of any organization including the Church or homes. Persons in leadership positions should be equipped with the necessary tools/knowledge for dealing with a range of disorders. The existence of such skill among leaders will minimize confrontations with individuals of opposite personality types and allow persons to work together in groups with a reduction of conflicts arising.

Some people like plans and structure; others prefer things to be open ended.  Big problems can arise when you have people with opposite approaches working together. With tight-loose management you define the goal (what is to be achieved), the boundaries (finite amounts of time, resource, people etc) and any points in time where people’s work intersects or there is a need to pass on information. Once the differences are recognized then space should be provided for persons to work in their own style. People lose energy if they are forced to work against their natural patterns. (Bris) People have different personalities and as such should be understood, the Church must deal with the different personalities in their congregation so as to have, where possible harmonious relationships.

In conclusion, the church will always have issues or challenges relating to personality differences. Hence the need for ministers and or other member(s) of the church to be trained in pastoral psychology. In this society persons face different types of personality disorder which affect the church in general, since we are all as Christians, ambassadors for Christ, we need to ensure that the body of Christ well equipped to tackle these disorders. A church faced with obvious negative forms of personality differences will be unattractive in the eyes of the community and prospective members. Taking care of the church’s personality challenges makes the lives of its members less complicated and the job of the pastor or counsellor a bit lighter. It is crucial for leaders both to understand personality differences and its management.  The implementation of this understanding would be attractive to the membership and may draw others who are in need of help to the congregation.

Works Cited

“Managing Personality differences.” University of Bristol. University of Bristol. Web. 12 Nov 2012. <http://www.bris.ac.uk/staffdevelopment/academicstaff/leading-people/seven-suggestions/managing-personality-differences.pdf&gt;.

“Narcissistic personality disorder .” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n. d. Web. Web. 12 Nov. 2012.

“Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” Cleveland Clinic. N.p., 29 2011. Web. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. <http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/personality_disorders/hic_narcissistic_personality_disorder.asp&xgt;.

“Personality”. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved November 04, 2012, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/personality

Burger, Jerry M. Personality. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth Pub. Co, 2008. Print.

Cherry, Kendra. “The Big Five Personality Dimensions.”About.com. N.p., n. d. Web. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. <http://psychology.about.com/od/personalitydevelopment/a/bigfive.htm&gt;.

Cuncic, Arlin. “Social Anxiety.” About.com. 07.July.2012. Web. 1 Nov. 2012.http://socialanxietydisorder.about.com/od/glossarys/g/socialanxiety.htm

Duff, Annette. “Managing Personality Disorders: Making Positive Connections.” Nursing Management – UK 10.6 (2003): 27-30.Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Nov. 2012.

Israelson, Dani. Mormon Times. Personal Interview. 25 2012.

Ronningstam, Elsa. “Narcissistic Personality Disorder: A Current Review.” Current Psychiatry Reports 12.1 (2010): 68-75. MEDLINE Complete. Web. 12 Nov. 2012.

Book Review: John Crow's Devil

by Yulande Lindsay

Excerpt from John Crow’s Devil

The Prologue: The End

No living thing flew over the village of Gibbeah, neither fowl, nor dove, nor crow. Yet few looked above, terrified should an omen come in a shriek or flutter. Nothing flew but dust. It slipped through window blades, door cracks, and the lifting clay of rooftops. Dust coated house and ground, shed and tree, machine and vehicle with a blanket of gray. Dust hid blood, but not remembrance.

Apostle York took three days to decide. He had locked himself in the office as his man waited by the door. Clarence touched his face often without thought, running his fingers over scratches hardened by clotted blood. The Apostle’s man was still in church clothes: his one black suit and gray shirt with tan buttons that matched his skin, save for his lips, which would have been pink had they not been beaten purple three days ago. Clarence shifted from one leg to the other and squeezed his knuckles to prevent trembling, but it was no use.

“Clarence,” the Apostle called from behind the door. “Pile them up. Pile them all up. Right here the roads meet. Pile them up and burn them.”

Men, women, and children, all dead, were left in the road. Those who scurried home with their lives imprisoned themselves behind doors. There were five bodies on Brillo Road; the sixth lay with a broken neck in a ditch where the bridge used to be. Clarence limped, cursing the hop and drag of his feet. At the crossroads he stopped.

“All man who can hear me!” he shouted. “Time now to do the Lord’s work.  The Apostle callin you.”

Faces gathered at windows but doors remained shut. Some would look at Clarence, but most studied the sky. Clarence looked above once and squeezed his knuckles again. A dove had flown straight into his face, splitting his bottom lip and almost scratching out his left eye. He felt as if more would come at that very moment, but the Apostle had given him strength.

“I talkin to every man who can stand. Heed the word or you goin get lick with friggery worse than any bird.”

Birds. They came back in a rush; in screams and screeches and wounds cut fresh by claws. “You know what my Apostle can do.”

Clarence knew the houses where men hid. He hopped and dragged to each one and hammered into the door.

“Sunset,” he said.

Three days before, when noon was most white, the village had killed Hector Bligh. Reckoning came swift, before they were even done. God’s white fury swept down on them with beaks and claws and the beat of a thousand wings.

But there were things the villagers feared more than birds. One by one they came out and the men threw the bodies on the bonfire.

This is a debut novel. A…DEBUT…novel. It is written with the assurance of someone who has been publishing for decades. It is written by someone who knows his people, knows his religion and who knows himself. John Crow’s Devil seethes with hate, fear, guilt and rage. Ostensibly about a spiritual battle between two men of God, better yet, between Good and evil, it is so much more. It examines the inner fears and desires of the people of Gibbeah, the small Jamaican town where the book is set. It lays open the need to follow the strongest among us, it exposes the petty craving for power or at least proximity to it. It is brutal, beautiful, chilling and redemptive. John Crow’s Devil goes on that list. You know, that list every avid reader has of their top ten books. It sits there…triumphant.

On the surface, the story centres on the spiritual battle of the soul of Gibbeah waged between the Rum Preacher, the disgraced leader of the church, endured contemptuously by his congregations and the newcomer the powerful fearless Apostle York who dismisses the former by means both spiritual and physical. Craving a strong leader, the members of the congregation led by eager Lucinda, a woman whose own inner darkness threatens to overpower her, quickly support and carry out the new leaders’ directives to isolate and reject any and all persons and activities that reject his teachings. There are signs and symbols, two headed calves are born and people are accused of evil acts and the use of obeah and punished in the most savage manner imaginable. Villagers are forbidden to drink, gamble or even fornicate with their lawfully wedded. The Apostle declares that it is only his word that need be followed and the name ‘Jesus’ is forbidden. Slowly, the village is cut off from the outside world as the Apostle orders the destruction of all communications – trucks bringing stone to fix the road and bridge are stoned until they are forced to flee, rediffusion sets are ordered destroyed.

I’m not going into a detailed analysis of the themes of this book because frankly that would take days and many, many pages.  However I do want to talk about a few things. First there is, in my opinion more than one battle going on. There are two secondary characters each representing one side of the battle: Lucinda and Widow Greenfield. I think it is significant, how James’ names these two women. The first, Lucinda, in the use of the first name is there a hint of contempt there? Lucinda is deeply flawed woman, who in recognition yet denial of these flaws seeks to whip them (literally) from her body and her soul. She is joyful when the Rum Preacher is tossed from the church and pledges herself fully to the Apostle. She refuses to acknowledge her sexual attraction to him declaring to herself that is a Sin. There are in fact, two Lucindas: Night Lucinda who obsesses about her sexual attraction to the Apostle and continues her forays into practices of obeah which she learned from her mother and Day Lucinda, ruthless in her righteousness and unwavering in her loyalties. The two sides are constantly at war.

The other woman is Widow Greenfield [Mary], who takes the disgraced Rum Preacher into her home. She is an angry woman bitter both about her marriage and the death of her husband. Even as she lends support to the preacher during his recovery and search for redemption, she rejects God and yet it is she in the end that is the key to the salvation of the village. Mary and Lucinda are old enemies, the latter a source of scorn for Greenfield and her gang as children and as rivals for the same man as adults. They are on opposite sides of this titanic struggle and their loyalties are a reflection of who they are. Lucinda follows the Apostle blindly unquestioning of his doctrine even when it strays into heretical territory: he questions the nature of the relationship between David and Jonathan and forbids the name of the Lord in the church declaring that to call the name of Jesus is a show of disrespect as it is his first name and if He is the Father who are they to call him by his name? She craves the power she feels the Apostle carries but she craves it not for her own salvation but for the same reasons she still practices the rituals of obeah: it is a weapon to be wielded against her enemies; it is an instrument of control. Mary, on the other hand, questions and curses and rejects anything that is of the Church. Yet it is her rough kindness that allows the Rum Preacher his redemption. It is through her that he is able to gain the strength to battle the Apostle.

The imagery and symbolism in John Crows’ Devil are powerful. Heralded by a flock of John Crows (vultures to non-Jamaicans) the true nature of Apostle York is immediately called into question. Is his ‘righteousness’ true? The people of Gibbeah may blindly follow but readers are more sceptical. The appearance of two-headed and otherwise deformed cattle presents a grotesque image and is used a tool to bring those who harbour doubts or choose not to follow in line. They are declared symbols of the Evil One, signs that dark arts are being practiced. In my opinion however, the most striking image is the appearance of the doves. In popular as well as religious lore, the dove is a symbol of peace. In John Crow’s Devil the dove is used both as a weapon and an instrument of hope. When they doves appear, they attack the people of the village, with the exception of the Rum Preacher and the Widow Greenfield. As the book ends they seem to obey the commands of the Widow.

There is so much to take in; it is a slim volume that reads like a much larger one.

Highly, highly recommended.

(Source: Reading Jamaica)