Posts Tagged ‘Syncretism’

Macdonald, “Always Been Christian”

March 18, 2014

Fraser Macdonald. 2014.. ‘Always been Christian’: Mythic Conflation among the Oksapmin of Papua New Guinea, Anthropological Forum: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Comparative Sociology, DOI: 10.1080/00664677.2014.886997. Early Online Publication.

Abstract:  Across the world and throughout history, people have negotiated religious and social change by marshalling the mythological resources at their disposal. In cases of conversion to Christianity, this dynamic has often taken the form of constructing an isomorphism between traditional mythical narratives and those learned from the Bible, a manifestation of the process I here call ‘mythic conflation’. In this article I explore how the Oksapmin of the West Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, have conflated aspects of Bible stories with two of their traditional narratives in an attempt to overcome cosmological contradiction. From the etic perspective, this has partially collapsed difference in the construction of syncretic religious forms. From the emic perspective, by constructing for themselves an ancestral precedent of this kind, the Oksapmin support a claim of having revealed the mystery of Christianity’s local origin.

Farrelly, “The New Testament Church and Mount Zion in Taiwan”

February 26, 2012

Farrelly, Paul (2012) “The New Testament Church and Mount Zion in Taiwan” in Lenore Manderson, Wendy Smith, & Matt Tomlinson (eds) Flows of Faith: Religious Reach and Community in Asia and the Pacific (Springer, New York).

Abstract: Members of the New Testament Church (NTC) led by Elijah Hong, “God’s Chosen Prophet”, believe that God has forsaken the traditional Mount Zion in Israel and that the new Mount Zion in Taiwan is imbued with the spiritual significance and power that the old mountain once had. Mount Zion is both a pilgrimage destination and nature-based utopian community of several hundred adherents, serving as an Eden-like sanctuary and as the setting for the impending Tribulation. The NTC’s theology, as manifested in Mount Zion and the objects on it, is a curious blend of Pentecostal Protestantism and Chinese religiosity.

Robbins, “Crypto-Religion and the Study of Cultural Mixtures”

October 4, 2011

Robbins, Joel. 2011. Crypto-Religion and the Study of Cultural Mixtures: Anthropology, Value, and the Nature of Syncretism. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 79(2):408-424.

Abstract: Although anthropologists rarely use the term crypto-religion, one can argue that they tend to analyze the cultures of most non-western converts to Christianity in crypto-religious terms. This tendency, which follows from the theoretical investment anthropologists have in cultural continuity, inflects anthropological approaches to conversion and syncretism in disciplinarily specific ways. This paper works to develop a model of syncretism that is not haunted by crypto-religious analysis and to demonstrate its value in considering cases in which people have converted to charismatic and Pentecostal forms of Christianity. The argument is illustrated with field materials from research in Papua New Guinea and concludes by considering what this rethinking of anthropological notions of syncretism might mean for placing the concept of crypto-religion in the theorization of processes of religious transformation more generally.

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