Posts Tagged ‘Theology’

Kollman, “World-Historical Turn in the History of Christianity and Theology”

June 24, 2014

Kollman, Paul. 2014. Understanding the World-Christian Turn in the History of Christianity and Theology. Theology Today. 71(2): 164-177.

Abstract: Growth in Christianity has spurred the appearance of the subfield of world Christianity, whose assumptions increasingly shape scholarship on Christianity. What I term the world-Christian turn, which is often linked to mission studies, yields more comprehensive approaches to the Christian past, connecting local histories of Christian communities to larger-scale historical movements and producing innovative comparative perspectives on Christianity past and present. In Catholic theology, this turn has encouraged new comparative and contextual theologies. Yet support for Christian mission and the world-Christian turn need not go together. Two cases in point: comparative theology tends to eschew mission while the work of Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, is suspicious of some impulses behind the world-Christian turn and their potential for undermining Christian mission. Such cases notwithstanding, I argue that missiology is a promising resource for the field of world Christianity.

 

Morgain, “Living Water”

February 7, 2014

Morgain, Rachel. 2014. Living Water: Christian Theologies and Interethnic Relations in Fiji. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 15(1): 65-84.

Abstract: In multiethnic Fiji, where ethnic relations are often seen as fraught and potentially charged with conflict, and where religion closely follows lines of ethnicity, attempts by Christian churches to mediate interethnic relations and build multiethnic congregations can face difficult challenges. In this article, two contrasting Christian theologies are explored, both of which draw on theologies of water as a means of mediating interethnic engagements. In these examples, processes of forging interethnic relationships are seen as variously harmonious and dissonant, unifying and separating. Drawing connections between the layered imagery of water employed in these Christian contexts and wider Pacific imaginaries of water in baptism and in the ocean, I explore these shifting processes of forging interethnic relationships in the contested context of contemporary Fiji.

Jenkins, “‘Religious Experience’

December 29, 2013

Jenkins, Timothy. 2013. “Religious experience” and the contribution of theology in Tanya Luhrmann’s When God Talks Back. Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3(3): 369-73.

Excerpt: In her recent book When God talks back: Understanding the American Evangelical relationship with God, Tanya Luhrmann offers an anthropological description of the motivations and world-view of contemporary Evangelical Christians. This work forms part of a current movement by anthropologists to gain detailed insight into and understanding of North American Christianity (Bialeki 2009; Bielo 2009, 2011; Harding 2000), and may be set in the broader context of the “anthropology of Christianity” (Cannell 2006; Engelke 2007; Robbins 2003, 2007; Keane 2007; cf. Hann 2007; Jenkins 2012). I have two broad observations to make, one concerning what one might call the Protestant nature of experience as a category, the other noting the use of theological texts as significant anthropological source.

Robbins, “Afterword: Let’s keep it awkward: Anthropology, theology, and otherness”

December 15, 2013

Robbins, Joel. 2013. Afterword: Let’s keep it awkward: Anthropology, theology, and otherness. The Australian Journal of Anthropology 24(3):329-337.

Excerpt: This collection of articles is a very welcome surprise. In the years since writing the 2006 essay on anthropology and theology with which all of the articles to some extent engage, I had become resigned to what seemed to the be the likelihood that the dialogue between anthropology and theology was going to be one that at best built very slowly, and at worst was destined hardly to take place. To be sure, there had been some fits and starts kinds of discussions, but nothing much had happened in the way of sustained conversation. Anthropology and theology appeared to me set to continue to go their separate ways without the benefit of much cross-fertilization. The publication of this collection fundamentally alters this picture. Each of its articles is a substantial contribution in its own right, and taken together they indicate in a way no other collection yet has how productive of fresh anthropological ideas encounters with various kinds of theology can be. And in moving decisively beyond a focus solely on the Christian tradition, they also rescue this nascent engagement from becoming a purely parochial one . . .

Mayblin & Course “The Other Side of Sacrifice”

October 16, 2013

Mayblin, Maya and Magnus Course. 2013. Introduction – The Other Side of Sacrifice. Ethnos:  Journal of Anthropology. (Early digital release: dx.doi.org/10.1080/00141844.2013.841720).

Abstract: While contemporary philosophers have been content to declare the logical possibilities of sacrifice exhausted, to have finally ‘sacrificed sacrifice,’ for many people around the world the notion of sacrifice – whether religious, secular, or somewhere in between – remains absolutely central to their understanding of themselves, their relations with others, and their place in the world. From religion to economics, and from politics to the environment, sacrificial tropes frequently emerge as key means of mediating and propagating various forms of power, moral discourse, and cultural identity. This paper lays out reasons for retaining sacrifice as an analytical concept within anthropology, and argues for the importance of a renewed focus on the ‘other side of sacrifice’, as a means of understanding better how sacrifice emerges beyond ritual and enters into the full gamut of social life.

Miller, “Speculative Grace”

April 30, 2013

Miller, Adam. 2013. Speculative Grace: Bruno Latour and Object-Orientated Theology. New York: Fordham University Press. 

Publisher’s Description: “This book offers a novel account of grace, framed in terms of Bruno Latour’s ‘principle of irreduction.’ It thus models an object-oriented approach to grace, experimentally moving a traditional Christian understanding of grace out of a top-down, theistic ontology and into an agent-based, object-oriented ontology. In the process, it also provides a systematic and original account of Latour’s overall project.

The account of grace offered here redistributes the tasks assigned to science and religion. Where now the work of science is to bring into focus objects that are too distant, too resistant, and too transcendent to be visible, the business of religion is to bring into focus objects that are too near, too available, and too immanent to be visible. Where science reveals transcendent objects by correcting for our nearsightedness, religion reveals immanent objects by correcting for our farsightedness.

Speculative Grace remaps the meaning of grace and examines the kinds of religious instruments and practices that, as a result, take center stage.”

Biehl, “The Right to a Nonprojected Future”

April 30, 2013

Biehl, João. 2013. The Right to a Nonprojected Future. Practical Matters 6:1-9

Excerpt: “There is a wonderful invitational quality to Christian Scharen and Aana Marie Vigen’s Eth- nography as Christian Theology and Ethics. I admire the tone and the kinds of conversa- tions that the book has unleashed and that are so thought-provokingly assembled here. Borne out of a close and passionately engaged reading, the commentaries by Emily Reimer-Barry, Mary McClintock Fulkerson and Ted A. Smith (in the order I read them) are sympathetic, critical, methodical and creatively constructive all at once. In their generosity, the commentators restore a kind of infancy, a sense of potential and possibility, to the book’s call for a theology and ethics that is marked by knowledge of the ethnographic Other, present but also absent, both worldly and particular within the totality of history, struggling to belong but at the same time transcending Christian membership. In their own commentary, Scharen and Vigen advocate for holding various binaries (reflexivity and self-absorption, objectivity and subjectivity, etc.) in “dynamic tension”— living in them instead of trying to resolve them. The goal is to create “as nuanced a picture as pos- sible,” recognizing that there are always risks and complexities to be engaged when describing lived realities.

The trust here is that the granular study of how beliefs, attitudes and values are refashioned and molded, as people navigate messy constellations of power and knowledge and face the unex- pected, brings into view alternative ontologies that can widen our sense of what is socially possible and desirable, be it at the cost of lowering our ability, real or imaginary, to discern the true truth or universal laws and historical continuities. What is at stake is “to defend the right to a nonprojected future as one of the truly inalienable rights of every person and nation,” in the luminous and al- ways contemporary words of the late Albert O. Hirschman. Scharen and Vigen’s brave book and this powerful set of commentaries make a strong plea for our own right as thinkers, across faiths and disciplines, to break open the expected value of the future: to remain relentlessly empirical yet open to theories, constantly tinkering with stories and interpretations as we face the active embroilment of life, reason, ethics and hope and try to give it a critical, albeit unfinished form, on a blank page. ”

Barber, “The Actuality of Liberation’s Problem”

April 12, 2013

Barber, Dan. 2013.  “The Actuality of Liberation’s Problem.” The Other Journal. http://theotherjournal.com/2013/04/11/the-actuality-of-liberations-problem/

Excerpt: “There is a tendency, when approaching the relation between Christianity and Marxism, to try to identify some element that would be common to both. This element becomes a third thing that allows us to give sense to the relation between the two initially given things of Christianity and Marxism. Such an approach, naming an element common to both Christianity and Marxism—liberation, for instance—allows us to adjudicate their relation. In fact, this third thing provides a site of adjudication to which each side is already implicitly committed. After all, if both Christianity and Marxism avow liberation, how could either object to being evaluated in terms of its capacity to bring about such liberation?”

Pöntinen, “African Theology as Liberating Wisdom”

March 18, 2013

Pöntinen, Mari-Anna.  2013.  African Theology as Liberating Wisdom: Celebrating Life and Harmony in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Botswana.  Leiden: Brill.

Publisher’s Description:  In African Theology as Liberating Wisdom; Celebrating Life and Harmony in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Botswana, Mari-Anna Pöntinen analyses contextual interpretations of the Christian faith in this particular church. These interpretations are based on the special wisdom tradition which embraces monistic ontology, communal ethics in botho, and the indigenous belief in God as the Source of Life, and the Root of everything that exists. The constructing theological principle in the ELCB is the downward-orientated and descending God in Christ which interprets the ‘Lutheran spirit’ in a liberating and empowering sense. It deals with the cultural mythos which brings Christ down into people’s existence, unlike Western connotations which are considered to hinder seeing Christ and to prevent existential self-awareness.

King, “The New Heretics”

January 4, 2013

King, Rebekka. 2012. The New Heretics: Popular Theology, Progressive Christianity, and Protestant Language Ideologies. Doctoral Dissertation, Dept. for the Study of Religion. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto.

Abstract: This dissertation investigates the development of progressive Christianity. It explores the ways in which progressive Christian churches in Canada adopt biblical criticism and popular theology. Contributing to the anthropology of Christianity, this study is primarily an ethnographic and linguistic analysis that juxtaposes contemporary conflicts over notions of the Christian self into the intersecting contexts of public discourse, contending notions of the secular and congregational dynamics. Methodologically, it is based upon two-and-a-half years of in-depth participant observation research at five churches and distinguishes itself as the first scholarly study of progressive Christianity in North America. I begin this study by outlining the historical context of skepticism in Canadian Protestantism and arguing that skepticism and doubt serve as profoundly religious experiences, which provide a fuller framework than secularization in understanding the experiences of Canadian Protestants in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In doing so, I draw parallels between the ways that historical and contemporary North American Christians negotiate the tensions between their faith and biblical criticism, scientific empiricism and liberal morality. Chapter Two seeks to describe the religious, cultural and socio-economic worlds inhabited by the progressive Christians featured in this study. It focuses on the worldviews that emerge out of participation in what are primarily white, middle-class, liberal communities and considers how these identity-markers affect the development and lived experiences of progressive Christians. My next three chapters explore the ways that certain engagements with text and the performance or ritualization of language enable the development of a distinctly progressive Christian modality. Chapter Three investigates progressive Christian textual ideologies and argues that the form of biblical criticism that they employ, along with entrenched concerns about the origins of the Christian faith ultimately, leads to a rejection of the biblical narrative. Chapter Four examines the ways in which progressive Christians understand individual ‘deconversion’ narratives as contributing to a shared experience or way of being Christian that purposefully departs from evangelical Christianity. The final chapter analyses rhetoric of the future and argues that progressive Christians employ eschatological language that directs progressive Christians towards an ultimate dissolution.

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