My name is Carter Charles.
I was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. My father named me Carter because like many Haitians, he loved things Americans. He immigrated there shortly after my birth and we’d always thought the so-called boat he had embarked on had never made it. Little did he know that thirty-six years later I would locate him in Florida (I was on a summer seminar trip sponsored by BYU’s Wheatley Institution). He had left Haiti under the Papa Doc regime. With him gone, my mother took me out of the capital to be raised in a town about 45 minutes away. I grew up attending a Pentecostal protestant church with her and eating food sacrificed to gods at voodoo ceremonies every now and then. I never was a voodoo initiate but I am very much aware of it since it was as much part of my everyday life as Christianity: I grew up with the idea that the world of spirits, all forms, was never too far; three relatives are voodoo priests, my grand-mother on my mother’s side had her gods and an altar in her house. Duty towards the gods and the gift to communicate with them and the other world supposedly run in the family but you run no risk of being zombified by me: I have been as bad at taking care of them as I was good at eating their food.
I regret the food wasted in sacrifices but my training in sociology of religion makes me appreciate great principles in them. And that training has helped me develop great respect for other religious practices or rituals as grounds upon which peoples approach religions that are foreign to them.
A missionary asked me last week if I was married. I told him it’s been 17 years, which triggered on his part “17 years! How old are you?” I may not look 40 but my birth certificate said that I was born in 1977. My kids are 13 (boy), 10 (boy), 5 (girl, yeah!) and the fourth (another girl, yeah!) is due anytime but she keeps me very busy already.
I tend to think of myself as a socio-historian, a term used in some academic circles in France to refer to scholars who approach a research subject from a trans-disciplinary perspective. I am a certified teacher of English as a second language in the French educational system. My Ph.D is in American Studies and focused on the political integration of Mormons in the United States from Reed Smoot to Mitt Romney (2013). I also did two masters’ theses focusing either on Mormonism and politics or on Mormon understanding of priesthood and leadership. I am a tenured teaching professor at Université Bordeaux Montaigne where I teach French/English translation, English applied to business and communication, American Studies and religion in international relations.
I live by the very first commandment ever given to mankind: as much as I love intellectual work, I’ll die if I don’t work with my hands building something or growing things (preferably not thorns and thistles) out of the earth by the sweat of my brow.