Archive for December, 2011

Haustein, “Embodying the Spirit(s)”

December 20, 2011

Haustein, Jorg. 2011. Embodying the Spirit(s): Pentecostal Demonology and Deliverance Discourse in Ethiopia. Ethnos 76(4): 534-552.

Abstract: The article explores Pentecostal embodiment practices and concepts with regard to Holy Spirit baptism and demon possession. The studied material is connected to a specific and highly controversial debate in Ethiopian Pentecostalism, which revolves around the possibility of demon possession in born-again and Spirit-filled Christians. This debate runs through much of Ethiopian Pentecostal history and ultimately is concerned with whether or how Christians can be seen to host conflicting spiritual forces, in light of the strong dualism between God and evil in Pentecostal cosmology. The article shows that the embodiment of spirits and/or the Holy Spirit is related to theological concepts of the self, because these concepts define what may or may not be discerned in certain bodily manifestations. Moreover, the article contends that this debate thrives on a certain ambiguity in spirit embodiment, which invites the discernment of spiritual experts and thereby becomes a resource of power.

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van de Kamp, “Converting the Spirit Spouse”

December 20, 2011

van de Kamp, Linda. 2011. Converting the Spirit Spouse: the Violent Transformation of the Pentecostal Female Body in Maputo, Mozambique. Ethnos 76(4): 510-533.

Abstract: This article discusses the forceful transformation of the female body in Brazilian Pentecostalism in urban Mozambique and argues for an understanding of Pentecostal conversion as embodying spiritual warfare. Presenting the case of avenging spirits, such as the spirit spouse, it explores how spirits interfere in women’s new socio-economic positions and intimate relationships. Pentecostal women learn to stay in control of their body under guidance of the Holy Spirit and a ‘violent’ war against the spirit spouse unfolds. The prevalence of ‘violence’ implies that we should critically question a perception of conversion as bringing healing and harmony.

de Witte, “Touched by the Spirit”

December 20, 2011

de Witte, Marleen. 2011. Touched by the Spirit: Converting the Senses in a Ghanian Charismatic Church. Ethnos 76(4): 489-509.

Abstract: This article discusses the bodily mass reproduction of divine touch in Ghanaian charismatic Pentecostalism and argues for an understanding of conversion as an ongoing bodily process that ‘tunes’ the senses to specific sensory experiences. Presenting a case study of the International Central Gospel Church in Accra, it asks how the church’s explicit appeal to the body relates to its strong suspicion of bodily mediation and its ideology of conversion as an inner transformation of the spirit and only secondarily of the body. It shows that the learning of the church doctrine that grounds born-again subjectivity in spontaneous and immediate experiences of being touched by the Holy Spirit goes together with repeated performance and gradual embodiment of sensory and bodily ‘formats’ that evoke such experiences, but also raise concerns about their authenticity.

Klaver, “From Sprinkling to Immersion”

December 20, 2011

Klaver, Miranda. 2011. From Sprinkling to Immersion: Conversion and Baptism in Dutch Evangelism. Ethnos 76(4): 469-488.

Abstract: Why do recent converts in new evangelical churches desire to be re-baptized by immersion despite their previous infant baptism in mainline churches? This article addresses this question through a discussion of the observed shift in baptism practices from that of ‘sprinkling’ infants (in Protestant mainline churches) to full bodily immersion of adults (in new evangelical churches) in the Netherlands. Based on an ethnographic comparison of these two baptism practices, I demonstrate the performative effect of rituals as well as the importance of connections between material forms, embodiment and doctrines. The call for different baptism practices, I suggest, illustrates a broader shift in Dutch Protestantism from a didactic to an experiential form of Christianity in which the encounter with the sacred is increasingly located in the body. At the same time, it demonstrates how religious authority has moved from institutions to individual believers.

Mafra, “Saintliness and Sincerity”

December 20, 2011

Mafra, Clara Cristina Jost. 2011. Saintliness and Sincerity in the Formation of the Christian Person. Ethnos 76(4): 448-468.

Abstract: Taking into account the composition of Pentecostalism – a mixture of, on one side, a Protestant tradition that allows the constitution of the ‘sincere person’, and, on the other side, the enchanted aspects of personhood – what happens when this message is disseminated in a context with a long Catholic tradition by ‘translators’ socialized in the Catholic culture; in other words, by people with a particular interpretation of the Protestant tradition? In this article, the author explores this question and shows how the Catholic framing impacts the arrangements for accommodating the semiotic ideologies of ‘sincerity’ and ‘saintliness’ within Pentecostal religiosity, resulting in singular manifestations of the collective project and of the regional Christian Person.

Coleman, “‘Right Now!'”

December 20, 2011

Coleman, Simon. 2011. “Right Now!”: Historiopraxy and the Embodiment of Charismatic Temporalities. Ethnos 76(4): 426-447.

Abstract: I focus on the experience of time and perception of history within the Word of Life charismatic ministry in Sweden, demonstrating the mutual implication of the physical and the temporal, the biographical and the historical, in members’ lives. While conversion draws on a personal frame of reference in relation to the passage of time, spiritualised temporality can also be given a more ambitious frame, incorporating major events that might lead to Christ’s return. Believers wrestle with at least two ways of dealing with history. One pertains to a mimetic relation to previous action: invoking history. The other involves the articulation of something discontinuous and new, an ‘event’ that moves towards the ultimate salvationist and transformative aims of the faith: making history. Both raise the question of how novelty can be invoked through deploying cultural resources that, seemingly paradoxically, recall actions taken in the past – a process I term ‘historiopraxy’.

Klaver and van de Kamp, “Embodied Temporalities”

December 20, 2011

Klaver, Miranda and Linda van de Kamp. 2011. Embodied Temporalities in Global Pentecostal Conversion. Ethnos 76(4).

Abstract: The body is one of the most discussed topics in current studies of religion and society. Pentecostalism displays a remarkable sensorial and experiential form of religion and is therefore a most interesting domain to study the intersection of religion and embodiment. To avoid the pitfall of taking the feeling body for granted as a prime phenomenological reality, this thematic issue elaborates on the explicit strategies through which the religious body is formed in different societies. The dynamics of becoming and remaining a religious convert are displayed through a focus on the three specific interrelated issues of time, spirits and the subject.

Hackett, “Regulating Religious Freedom in Africa”

December 19, 2011

Hackett, Rosalind (2011) “Regulating Religious Freedom in Africa” Emory International Law Journal 25(2):853-879

Excerpt: “In this Essay, using a wide-ranging set of examples, I wish to provide some background on the emergent discussion on limitations on religious freedom in Africa, especially how these relate to the current debates on family law that are the subject of this Symposium. My general objectives are (1) to consider the legitimate and illegitimate ways in which African state and non-state actors seek to regulate religious practice; (2) to examine how particular religious groups may be disproportionately affected by these measures; (3) to demonstrate how interference with manifestations of religion often leads to abuses of related rights and freedoms (e.g. women’s and ethnic minorities’ rights, and rights of political participation, expression, and association); (4) to broaden and update the concept of religious practice; and (5) to consider how the African examples of restrictions on and regulation of religious practice challenge Western assumptions about the nature of religion as an essentially private and internal affair. Using two East African examples, I then provide more specific discussion of how attempts to introduce domestic relations bills and Sharia law reflect these changing entanglements of religion and state in neoliberal Africa. Part I provides some background on pertinent religious and legal developments in Africa. Part II examines the dialectics of regulation and recognition of religious freedom in select contexts. Part III discusses other types of restriction, such as land ownership, harassment, granting permits, and media use and access. Part IV focuses on the plight of traditional or indigenous African religions in relation to religious freedom. Part V links the manipulation of religious freedom issues to public and policy debates regarding customary law in Uganda and Kenya.”

Yeung, “Constructing Sacred Space”

December 14, 2011

Yeung, Gustav K.K. 2011. Constructing Sacred Space Under the Forces of the Market: a study of an ‘upper-floor’ Protestant church in Hong Kong. Culture and Religion 12(4).

Abstract: In Hong Kong, over half of the Protestant churches are located in the upper-floor units in commercial and residential buildings. Because of their physical locations, these churches are sometimes dubbed ‘upper-floor churches’. Unlike those that occupy stand-alone religious buildings or dwell in church-run schools and social service centres, these are often invisible in the landscapes of the city. Through analysis of a case study, this paper aims to explore the spatial practices that a Protestant community has adopted in acquiring, representing, and ritualising a business unit in a residential high-rise for building up their church. Our analysis of the case study shows that in a metropolis like contemporary Hong Kong, the construction of sacred space is full of tensions between utilitarian calculations and concerns of human relations and religious values. While the congregation had been very creative in transforming a commercial unit into a religious site, it did not show much awareness of the oppressive powers of the capitalist market and had a strong tendency to represent its spatial practices as commodities for consumption.

Chao, “Blessed Fetishism”

December 12, 2011

Chao, En-Chieh (2011) “Blessed fetishism: Language ideology and embodied worship among Pentecostals in Java” Culture and Religion 12(4):373-399

Abstract: A prominent trend of late Christianity has been a cultivation of ‘unmediated’ inspiration realised in embodied worship, notably glossolalia, ecstasy and verbal exuberance. Speaking unfathomable language and embracing spontaneous feelings, Pentecostals in Java have relied on and reworked local language ideologies by passionately employing both the babbling and yelling forms of code-switching in Indonesian, English, Hebrew and glossolalia, in an aspiration to achieve ‘true worshiper-hood’. A closer scrutiny of some elements of this embodied worship against the larger religiously heterogeneous context, furthermore, reveals the salient impacts of cross-religious relations on the process of shaping Pentecostal Christianity. This article argues that specific forms of Pentecostal worship can be better understood when situated in Muslim–Christian relations. Specifically, they speak to a thriving form of religious fetishism that is locally primed for a distinct voice out of the flourishing movements of Islamic resurgence.

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