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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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The Spiritual Sons of Victor Hugo

The Spiritual Sons of Victor Hugo

From Séance to Battlefield

(p.97) Chapter 3 The Spiritual Sons of Victor Hugo
The Divine Eye and the Diaspora

Janet Alison Hoskins

University of Hawai'i Press

The third chapter deals with his rival for visibility as a leader of overseas Caodaists—Trần Quang Cảnh, the son of Caodaism’s greatest military commander, Trần Quang Vinh (1901–1975), who also served as South Vietnam’s Minister of Defense (1947–1952). Taking on the mantle of his father’s divine appointment as Victor Hugo’s “spiritual son,” Cảnh believes that the Vatican in Vietnam cannot be moved elsewhere. After many years of criticizing government suppression, he is now the most prominent advocate of reconciliation with the Tây Ninh hierarchy. In 2010 he became the first American citizen to be ordained as an official member of the Tây Ninh administration. He wants to rebuild Caodaism in Vietnam by focusing on a new information center for tourists, recognition at academic conferences, and Internet connections. The chapter begins by tracing the reasons that Victor Hugo has been recognized as a “saint” or “prophet” within Caodaism, and the history of his own participation in spirit séances in the 19th century.

Keywords:   Victor Hugo, spiritism, militarized religions, transnational outreach, decolonization in Vietnam

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