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The Divine Eye and the DiasporaVietnamese Syncretism Becomes Transpacific Caodaism$
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Janet Alison Hoskins

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824840044

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824840044.001.0001

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A Spirit Medium as Nationalist Leader

A Spirit Medium as Nationalist Leader

Charisma and Anticolonialism

(p.67) Chapter 2 A Spirit Medium as Nationalist Leader
The Divine Eye and the Diaspora

Janet Alison Hoskins

University of Hawai'i Press

Phạm Công Tắc (1890–1957) was the most famous, but also the most controversial, Caodai leader of the twentieth century. A charismatic speaker who built the magnificent Tây Ninh Temple as a new Vatican in Vietnam and was intensely involved in nationalist politics, he has sometimes been described as “the Mahatma of Vietnam”—a Gandhian leader who fused religion and politics. He oversaw the architecture of a monument to symbolic encompassment, visualizing a new theology and presenting it as an alternative apparatus of power in an age of revolution. He was a translator and a popularizer, publishing abundantly in both French and Vietnamese, trying to heal the wounds of colonialism with a language of spiritual reconciliation. He is paired with Bùi Đắc Hùm, the most prolific translator of Caodai scriptures into English, who has spearheaded a diasporic outreach program based on educating a new generation in Vietnamese religious and cultural traditions. Practicing an inclusive, nondenominational form of Caodaism, he has renounced the possibility of returning to Vietnam, unconvinced that recent reforms will allow the religion to return to viability in its homeland. So his search for new mediums and new leadership continuse overseas, and includes reaching beyond the Vietnamese community.

Keywords:   nationalism, charisma, anti-colonialism, Gandhian movements, disaporic theology

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