Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Kaell, “Walking Where Jesus Walked: American Christians and Holy Land Pilgrimage”

May 10, 2014

Kaell, Hillary. 2014. Walking Where Jesus Walked: American Christians and Holy Land Pilgrimage. New York: New York University Press. 

Publisher’s Description: Since the 1950s, millions of American Christians have traveled to the Holy Land to visit places in Israel and the Palestinian territories associated with Jesus’s life and death. Why do these pilgrims choose to journey halfway around the world? How do they react to what they encounter, and how do they understand the trip upon return? This book places the answers to these questions into the context of broad historical trends, analyzing how the growth of mass-market evangelical and Catholic pilgrimage relates to changes in American Christian theology and culture over the last sixty years, including shifts in Jewish-Christian relations, the growth of small group spirituality, and the development of a Christian leisure industry.

Drawing on five years of research with pilgrims before, during and after their trips, Walking Where Jesus Walked offers a lived religion approach that explores the trip’s hybrid nature for pilgrims themselves: both ordinary—tied to their everyday role as the family’s ritual specialists, and extraordinary—since they leave home in a dramatic way, often for the first time. Their experiences illuminate key tensions in contemporary US Christianity between material evidence and transcendent divinity, commoditization and religious authority, domestic relationships and global experience.

Hillary Kaell crafts the first in-depth study of the cultural and religious significance of American Holy Land pilgrimage after 1948. The result sheds light on how Christian pilgrims, especially women, make sense of their experience in Israel-Palestine, offering an important complement to top-down approaches in studies of Christian Zionism and foreign policy.

Durbin, “‘I will bless those who bless you'”

October 2, 2013

Durbin, Sean.  2013.  “I will bless those who bless you:” Christian Zionism, Fetishism, and Unleashing the Blessings of God.  Journal of Contemporary Religion 28(3): 507-521.

Abstract: This article focuses on the concept of ‘blessing’ Israel that has become common among contemporary American Christian Zionists. After introducing a theological scheme that has dominated discussions of contemporary Christian Zionism, the article critically examines one of the emerging narratives concerning the (re)discovery of Christian Zionists’ Jewish roots and the way the Jewish contribution to Christianity is framed. Following this, the article considers the way Israel and Jews are understood to hold a distinct place in the network of world redemption and how contemporary Israel acts as a marker—what is referred to as a ‘signifier of stability’—that helps Christian Zionists locate God’s ongoing work in the world. Finally, the article discusses how Christian Zionists ‘bless’ Israel in practical ways as a form of submission to God, a reminder of their relationship with God, and a way to locate themselves in the redemptive process.

Kaell, “Trash Talk: US Pilgrims in Israel-Palestine”

October 16, 2012

Kaell, Hillary (2012) “Trash Talk: US Pilgrims in Israel-Palestine.” Anthropology News 53(8):12-13.

Opening Paragraph: “Each year nearly 300,000 US Christians walk where Jesus walked,’ traveling halfway around the world to visit biblical sites in Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). As they tread hallowed ground, gaze from bus windows, and snap photos at panoramic lookouts, these pilgrims notice trash: litter, abandoned cars, unkempt houses. Garbage is always present at idealized sites, of course, but most tourists overlook it (Urry, 2002). In the Holy Land, however, it is too symbolically resonant to ignore. In fact, ‘trash talk’ serves a crucial role in the trip’s discourse. It offers US pilgrims a way to speak in a moral register about Israelis and Palestinians without engaging regional politics directly, which most try hard to avoid.”

Durbin, “For Such a Time as This”

August 29, 2012

Durbin, Sean. 2012. “For Such a Time as This”: Reading (and Becoming) Esther with Christians United for Israel.

Abstract: A great deal of work on contemporary Christian Zionism focuses on the apocalyptic eschatology of premillennial dispensationalism, critiquing it from an idealistic perspective that posits a direct line of causality from “belief” to action. Such critiques frequently assert that since Christian Zionists are biblical literalists, they read apocalyptic texts such as Revelation and Ezekiel with the goal of making the events they find predicted in these books come about in the world. This article takes a different approach. Although many Christian Zionists can be considered “literalists,” they read themselves into the text typologically. Special attention is paid to the book of Esther which is shown not to function primarily in a prophetic or apocalyptic role, but as a tool to help Christian Zionists understand political action, construct identity, and strengthen faith.

Feldman, “Abraham the Settler, Jesus the Refugee”

October 4, 2011

Feldman, Jackie. 2011. Abraham the Settler, Jesus the Refugee: Contemporary Conflict and Christianity on the Road to Bethlehem. History & Memory 23(1): 62-95.

Abstract: By examining tour brochures, practices of landscape display, posters and tour guiding narrations, I seek to understand how Bethlehem and the “separation wall” between Jerusalem and Bethlehem are integrated into the experience of Western Christian pilgrims of a variety of theological orientations. I argue that current practices of display and narration promote particular political views of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, and lend them authority by saturating them with particular Christian meanings and associations. The study contributes to our understanding of pilgrimage as a site of contested discourses in which local actors sacralize the landscape while making their understandings of the conflict seem self-evident and divinely justified.
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