Archive for December, 2013

Youseff, “From the Blood of St. Mina”

December 20, 2013

Youseff, Joseph. 2013. From the Blood of St. Mina to the Martyrs of Maspero: Commemoration, Identity, and Social Memory in the Coptic Orthodox Church. Journal of the Canadian Society for Coptic Studies 5(1): 61-73.

Abstract: This article will discuss the role of commemorating martyrs in the Coptic Orthodox Church and how commemoration is used by Copts as a mode for political and social agency. Furthermore, commemoration is a means by which Copts cope with the rise of sectarian violence in Egypt today. I will focus on two ways Coptic martyrs are commemorated. The first is through visiting the shrines of martyrs, whose relics are believed by Copts to possess a certain kind of blessing (baraka). The second and more recent kind of commemoration that has emerged in the last three years takes form in prayer meetings meant to honor victims of sectarian violence, namely, the Martyrs of Nag Hammadi (2010), Alexandria (2011), and Maspero (2011). In both these types of commemoration the narratives and hagiographies of martyrs are (re)articulated and juxtaposed in the present to emphasize the continuity of the Coptic Church as a “Church of Martyrs.” In this way, commemoration is more than an act of remembering; it is an active attempt to make and remake the past in the present.


Onuoha, “‘Exit’ and ‘Inclusion'”

December 20, 2013

Onuoha, Godwin. 2013. “Exit” and “Inclusion”: The Changing Paradigm of Pentecostal Expression in the Nigerian Public Sphere. In Topographies of Faith: Religion in Urban Spaces, Edited by Irene Becci, Marian Burchardt, and José Casanova, 207-226. Leiden: Brill.

Burchardt, “Belonging and Success”

December 20, 2013

Burchardt, Marian. 2013. Belonging and Success: Religious Vitality and the Politics of Urban Space in Cape Town. In Topographies of Faith: Religion in Urban Spaces, Edited by Irene Becci, Marian Burchardt, and José Casanova, 167-188. Leiden: Brill.

Martin, “Nationalism and religion; collective identity and choice”

December 20, 2013

Martin, David.  2014.  Nationalism and religion; collective identity and choice: the 1989 revolutions, Evangelical Revolution in the Global South, revolution in the Arab World.  Nations and Nationalism 20(1): 1-17.

Excerpt: Let me restate my primary focus in this lecture. I explore the dialectic between the autonomous powers of religion and nationalism, and between collective identity and choice, in my three revolutionary transformations. I am canvassing three contemporary transformations to query how far nationalism remains the main game in town in the light of major transnational religious movements and in the light of the transnational and personal imaginaries of young people with access to the internet. The revolutions of 1989 look like evidence for the resilience of ethno-religion as a vehicle of collective identity, although there were also major outcrops of inner conscientious dissent at work in combination with transnational religious influences, notably the Catholic Church. Evangelical Christianity in the Global South looks like personal choice and a collective transnational identity on a collision course with nationalism, including nationalist religion: the Catholic Church in Latin America, and in Africa and Asia the nationalist constructions and postcolonial mobilisations of intellectual and political elites. At the same time, there have been intermittent alliances between Evangelicalism and nationalism. As for the Arab revolutions, it depends on who is doing the looking. Some see them as nationalism disguised, others as religion taking over from nationalism as the vehicle of collective identity, though with a significant margin of pluralism, inwardness and maybe choice.

McVicar, “Take Away the Serpents from Us”

December 20, 2013

McVicar, Michael J. 2013. “Take Away the Serpents from Us”: The Sign of Serpent Handling and the Development of Southern Pentecostalism.  Journal of Southern Religion 15.

Excerpt: This essay reassesses serpent handling’s place in the history of the early holiness-pentecostal movement.8 It explores the problem the five signs enumerated in the Gospel of Mark 16:15–18—speaking in tongues, healing the sick, casting out demons, handling snakes, and drinking poison—posed for pentecostals in the South during the first half of the twentieth century. 9 Close readings of early twentieth-century printed sources from the holiness-pentecostal and secular presses indicate that authors and audiences viewed serpent handling as a new, innovative, and threatening religious practice. The arguments documented in these sources suggest that the identification of serpent handling as a specific practice limited to a small religious subgroup helped establish the boundaries of what today are generally recognized as legitimate pentecostal worship in the United States. Ultimately, these processes of socio-symbolic differentiation inside pentecostalism paralleled the legal construction of snake handlers as criminals whose bodies and behavior required regulation through ecclesiastic and state disciplinary mechanisms.

Aubrée, ‘Latin-American and Asiatic neo-Protestantisms’

December 16, 2013

Aubrée, Marion.  2013.  Latin-American and Asiatic neo-Protestantisms: A comparative study. Social Compass 60(4): 517-526.

Abstract: Throughout the 20th century, the expansion of North American Pentecostal and neo-evangelical movements was greatest in the traditionally Catholic countries of Latin America. And in the 1960s the first scientific analysis related to the overseas development of this movement was of Brazil, Chile and Argentina. More recently the conversion process has spread into Africa and as far as Asia. The various dynamics perceptible in the Pentecostal movement today in Southeast Asian cultures clearly made it pertinent to undertake a comparison between the Latino-American and Southeast Asian situations by considering, as the author proposes, the various methods and concepts developed over the last seventy years in the study of the neo-evangelical movements.

Barton, ‘Pray the Gay Away’

December 16, 2013

Barton, Bernadette C.  2012.  Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays.  New York: NYU Press.

Publisher’s Description:

In the Bible Belt, it’s common to see bumper stickers that claim One Man + One Woman = Marriage, church billboards that command one to “Get right with Jesus,” letters to the editor comparing gay marriage to marrying one’s dog, and nightly news about homophobic attacks from the Family Foundation. While some areas of the Unites States have made tremendous progress in securing rights for gay people, Bible Belt states lag behind. Not only do most Bible Belt gays lack domestic partner benefits, lesbians and gay men can still be fired from some places of employment in many regions of the Bible Belt for being a homosexual.
In Pray the Gay Away, Bernadette Barton argues that conventions of small town life, rules which govern Southern manners, and the power wielded by Christian institutions serve as a foundation for both passive and active homophobia in the Bible Belt. She explores how conservative Christian ideology reproduces homophobic attitudes and shares how Bible Belt gays negotiate these attitudes in their daily lives. Drawing on the remarkable stories of Bible Belt gays, Barton brings to the fore their thoughts, experiences and hard-won insights to explore the front lines of our national culture war over marriage, family, hate crimes, and equal rights. Pray the Gay Away illuminates their lives as both foot soldiers and casualties in the battle for gay rights.

Wilford, ‘Sacred Subdivisions’

December 16, 2013

Wilford, Justin.  2012.  Sacred Subdivisions: The Postsuburban Transformation of American Evangelicalism.  New York: NYU Press.

Publisher’s Description:

In an era where church attendance has reached an all-time low, recent polling has shown that Americans are becoming less formally religious and more promiscuous in their religious commitments. Within both mainline and evangelical Christianity in America, it is common to hear of secularizing pressures and increasing competition from nonreligious sources. Yet there is a kind of religious institution that has enjoyed great popularity over the past thirty years: the evangelical megachurch. Evangelical megachurches not only continue to grow in number, but also in cultural, political, and economic influence. To appreciate their appeal is to understand not only how they are innovating, but more crucially, where their innovation is taking place.
In this groundbreaking and interdisciplinary study, Justin G. Wilford argues that the success of the megachurch is hinged upon its use of space: its location on the postsuburban fringe of large cities, its fragmented, dispersed structure, and its focus on individualized spaces of intimacy such as small group meetings in homes, which help to interpret suburban life as religiously meaningful and create a sense of belonging. Based on original fieldwork at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, one of the largest and most influential megachurches in America, Sacred Subdivisions explains how evangelical megachurches thrive by transforming mundane secular spaces into arenas of religious significance.

Gender, Catholicism, and Morality in Brazil: Book Review

December 16, 2013

Mayblin, Maya.  2010. Gender, Catholicism, and Morality in Brazil: Virtuous Husbands, Powerful Wives.  New York: Palgrave MacMillan.  

By: Astrid Grue (University of Copenhagen)

If, following a point recently made by Sara Ahmed, an ideological argument of contemporary Western societies appears to be that “if you are married, then we can predict that you are more likely to be happier than if you are not married” (2010: 6), Maya Mayblin’s rich account of married life among Catholics in a village community in Northeast Brazil paints a different picture. Here, marriage is about hard work, suffering, and spiritual pollution; it is a curse as much as a blessing, for even if it is not the route to happiness, it is generally necessary for the constitution and performance of moral personhood for both women and men.

In Gender, Catholicism, and Morality in Brazil, Mayblin offers a substantial ethnography of gendered, as well as ungendered, discourses and practices that unfold around marriage, elegantly interwoven with a range of perceptive analytical points about Catholic morality. Read the rest of this entry »

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