Posts Tagged ‘Midwestern United States’

Nilsson, “Conserving the American Dream: Faith and Politics in the U.S. Heartland”

October 23, 2012

Nilsson, Erik (2012) “Conserving the American Dream: Faith and Politics in the U.S. Heartland.” Stockholm studies in social anthropology. Stockholm, Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis.

Publisher’s Description: Recent decades have seen substantial changes in the U.S. political landscape. One particularly significant development has been the growing influence of a conservative coalition encompassing evangelical Christianity, interventionist foreign policy and neoliberal reform. This study explores the force and internal dynamics of this political assemblage. Based on fieldwork among conservative voters, volunteers and candidates in a small city in northwestern Ohio during a midterm election year, it probes the energy of conservative politics, its modes of attachment and influence, and the organizational forms through which it circulates. Contemporary conservative politics are shown to be centered on a particular epistemological intuition: that to be able to act, one must believe in something. This intuition implies an actively affirmative stance toward “beliefs” and “values.” The study also addresses methodological and analytical challenges that conservative politics pose for anthropological inquiry. It develops a “conversational” analytical attitude, arguing that in order to understand the lasting influence conservatism one has to take seriously the problems that it is oriented toward.

Bielo, “How Much of this is Promise?”

October 5, 2011

Bielo, James (2011) “”How Much of this is Promise?”: God as Sincere Speaker in Evangelical Bible Reading” Anthropological Quarterly 84(3):631-653

Abstract: In this article I examine how language ideology intersects with textual ideology, listening, and group identity in an American Evangelical context. The ethnographic focus is a men’s Bible study group, their extended reading of the Old Testament book of Proverbs, a schism within the group involving a Pentecostal participant, and the tensions that surface when they read biblical texts as promises from God. I argue that the model of the sincere speaker can be extended to scriptural authors, forming religious subjects as listeners. The religious listening that is created, when viewed against the backdrop of Evangelical textual assumptions and Western assumptions about the nature of promises, explains the struggles these men encounter through their collective reading of scripture.

A part of the special issue Beyond Logos: Extensions of the Language Ideology Paradigm in the Study of Global Christianity (-ies)

Bielo, “Emerging Evangelicals”

October 3, 2011

Bielo, James S. 2011. Emerging Evangelicals: Faith, Modernity, and the Desire for Authenticity. New York: NYU Press.

Publisher’s Description: The Emerging Church movement developed in the mid-1990s among primarily white, urban, middle-class pastors and laity who were disenchanted with America’s conservative Evangelical sub-culture. It is a response to the increasing divide between conservative Evangelicals and concerned critics who strongly oppose what they consider overly slick, corporate, and consumerist versions of faith. A core feature of their response is a challenge to traditional congregational models, often focusing on new church plants and creating networks of related house churches.

Drawing on three years of ethnographic fieldwork, James S. Bielo explores the impact of the Emerging Church movement on American Evangelicals. He combines ethnographic analysis with discussions of the movement’s history, discursive contours, defining practices, cultural logics, and contentious interactions with conservative Evangelical critics to rethink the boundaries of “Evangelical” as a category. Ultimately, Bielo makes a novel contribution to our understanding of the important changes at work among American Protestants, and illuminates how Emerging Evangelicals interact with the cultural conditions of modernity, late modernity, and visions of “postmodern” Christianity.

Bielo, “Purity, Danger, and Redemption”

October 3, 2011

Bielo, James S. 2011. Purity, Danger, and Redemption: notes on urban missional Evangelicals. American Ethnologist 38(2):267-280.

Abstract: In this article, I examine how urban missional evangelicals in the United States cultivate a sense of place. Being “missional” refers to the desire to be a missionary in one’s own society, an idea that has spread widely through the Emerging Church movement. Proceeding from an ethnographic analysis of two urban pastors, I argue that being an urban missional evangelical means having an intricate, nuanced, but ultimately mediate sense of place. Grounded in a cultural logic that seeks distance from suburban evangelicalism, the urban missional sense of place exists as a lived critique of modernity, which I explore through Mary Douglas’s classic analysis of purity and danger.

Bielo, “City of Man, City of God”

October 3, 2011

James Bielo (2011) “City of Man, City of God: The Re-Urbanization of American EvangelicalsCity and Society 23(s1):2-23

Abstract: In post-World War II America, U.S. Evangelicalism became a religion deeply entrenched with suburbanization and commercial sprawl. This article examines the growing phenomenon of middle-class white Evangelicals who are returning to the city. Since September 2008 I have conducted ethnographic fieldwork with nearly 100 Evangelicals in the post-industrial, Rust Belt cities of Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Middletown. I argue first that Evangelical re-urbanization is structured by two cultural logics: a biting cultural critique of suburban megachurches, and a desire for the “reconciliation” of urban life to “the kingdom of God.” Second, re-urbanized Evangelicals necessarily encounter the dilemmas of late modern urbanism, including structural processes like neighborhood gentrification. I stress the importance of this phenomenon for both the impact of religion on America’s cities and the impact of urban restructuring on American religion.

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