Rebecca C. Bartel, 2016. “Giving Is Believing: Credit and Christmas in Colombia” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 84(4): 1006-1028.
Abstract: The Durkheimian divide between “belief” and “rite” remains a contested boundary in the study of religion. In response, this article takes up the concept of “credere,” the root of both belief and credit, to challenge the distinction between believing and practice. “Credere” further opens a new window for inquiry in religious studies: the role of the gift in finance capitalism. Based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork in Colombia, South America, this article challenges the disciplinary margins between political economy and religion. Relations between believing, practice, and finance capitalism are brought into new relief through a focus on gift-giving in a time of credit cards. In Colombia, the relationship between finance capitalism and Christianity reshapes the gift—from a gift based on social obligation to a gift based on credit.
Omri Elisha, 2016. “Saved by a Martyr: Evangelical Mediation, Sanctification, and the “Persecuted Church” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 84(4): 1056-1080.
Abstract:This article examines the significance of mediation in the public programming and activism of The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), an organization that offers international aid and advocacy to Christians identified as victims of persecution. Focusing on VOM’s efforts to rally Westerners, especially evangelical Protestants, I argue that the antipersecution movement urges supporters to share the mantle of martyrdom by engaging in purposeful acts of religious mediation, including the consumption and circulation of martyrological media. I explore a related tendency among evangelicals to valorize non-Western Christians in precarious circumstances as exemplars of self-sacrificing piety, whose suffering represents and inspires conditions of sanctification. Drawing on media analysis and fieldwork, I explore how practices of mediation, as forms of “witness,” invite evangelicals to embody otherwise elusive virtues and modes of agency associated with Christian martyrs, while reflecting ambiguous modern conceptions of the nature of embodied suffering and the relationship between vulnerability and power.
Bruno Reinhardt, “Praying until Jesus returns: commitment and prayerfulness among charismatic Christians in Ghana” Religion, published online 14 November 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0048721X.2016.1225907
Abstract: Charismatic Christians in Ghana display heterogeneous intensities of personal piety, often mapped out by believers to levels of ‘spiritual maturation’. In this article, I examine the devotional routines of ‘committed’ Christians, individuals recognized as ‘prayerful’ subjects. Through Marcel Mauss’ incidental definition of prayer as an ‘expenditure of physical and moral energy’, I investigate ethnographically the methods whereby prayerfulness comes about. I argue that charismatic prayer is not a discernible object of inquiry, but an ongoing field of ethical problematization driven forward by two modes of physical and moral expenditure: habit and anticipation. From this angle, spiritual maturity indicates not a durable ethical asset, but a continuous effort to produce homeostatic balance between these embodied temporal forces. I conclude by stressing how attention to the internal goods of prayer allow us to integrate vulnerability within religious projects, instead of reducing it to an external causal force, as in most deprivation theories of religion.
Excerpt: I researched the lives of Quiverfull mothers through in-depth interviews from the fall of 2012 to the spring of 2015. My aim was fairly simple: to allow Quiverfull mothers to tell the stories of their life’s work in their own words. I discovered that many families experience significant tensions within their patriarchal discourse because of the expanded practice of motherhood at work in the Quiverfull subculture.
Simion Pop, ‘I’ve tempted the saint with my prayer!’ Prayer, charisma and ethics in Romanian eastern orthodox Christianity, Religion. Early online publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0048721X.2016.1225908
Abstract: Marcel Mauss’ perspective on prayer has the merit of revealing the complex relations between individual experience, sociality and efficacy of prayer. In this article I propose a particular ethical perspective on prayer and these complex relations and also a new ethnographic territory for studying situational, relational and personal practices of prayer. Considering the ethical orientation towards contemporary saints within the Romanian Eastern Orthodox revival milieu I introduce the notion of charismatic exemplar in order to open up the analytical space for studying prayer as ethical practice. I argue that relational ethics reveals that prayer practices work efficaciously within the everyday web of constitutive ethical relationships and are replete with ethical insights into these relationships’ concrete social and historical constitution. Within the Orthodox revival milieu the ethical capacities of engaging in social relationships are prayerfully shaped at the intersection of self-cultivation in terms of an authoritative tradition, charismatic authority/exemplarity and social-historical conditions.
Laurence Cuelenaere (2016). “The Decolonization of Belief from a Native Perspective: Wak’as and Teología Andina in the Bolivian Highlands,” The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology. doi:10.1111/jlca.12254
Abstract: This article addresses two aporias in decolonizing discourses in Bolivia. The first is manifest in the irreducible distance between colonial and decolonial perspectives on creencias (beliefs) and the lived experience of the wak’as (deities, sacred objects, or shrines). The second resides in the contradictions Teología Andina (Andean theology) incurs in its claims to decolonize theology inasmuch as it calls for a sanitation of beliefs to make them acceptable to Christianity and as it defines practices for a neutralization of the fury of the wak’a. I explore these aporias on the basis of testimonies and conversations with intellectuals of Aymara extraction. The wide range of decolonizing discourses I touch on in this article convey contradictory positions analogous to the call for sanitation and neutralization by Teología Andina.
Excerpt: During the last 30 years, the Evangelical relationship with the State of Israel has drawn much academic and popular attention, particularly from historical, theological, and political perspectives. This dissertation engages with this literature but also complements it with an ethnographic account of the discursive practices of Evangelical Zionists through which, it is suggested, much of the religious significance of the contemporary state is being produced. The study is based on ethnographic fieldwork among Evangelical volunteer workers in Jerusalem, focusing on their stories about themselves, the land, and the biblical text.
Abstract: How do American Charismatic Evangelicals imagine human difference? Ethnographic fieldwork with the Vineyard, a Southern California originated but now nation-wide Charismatic Evangelical movement, suggests that for many lay American Charismatic Evangelicals, difference is conceptualized in three different modes, involving potentialities, relations, and boundedness. Much like a grammar shapes communication without imposing a single meaning, these forms of conceiving human difference mandate no single intrinsic political position, but do affect the way that American Charismatic evangelicals express and contest notions of human difference.
Publisher’s Description: There has been an extraordinary growth in Pentecostalism in Africa, with Brazilian Pentecostals establishing new transnational Christian connections, initiating widespread changes not only in religious practice but in society. This book describes its rise in Maputo, capital of Mozambique, and the sometimes dramatic impact of Pentecostalism on women. Here large numbers of urban women are taking advantage of the opportunities Pentecostalism offers to overcome restrictions at home, pioneer new life spaces and change their lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Yet, conversion can also mean a violent rupturing with tradition, with family and with social networks. As the pastors encourage women to cut their ties with the past, including ancestral spirits, they come to see their kin and husbands as imbued with evil powers, and many leave their families. Conquering spheres that used to be forbidden to them, they often live alone as unmarried women, sometimes earning more than men of a similar age. They are also expected to donate huge sums to the churches, often money that they can ill afford, bringing new hardships.
Abstract: Timothy Larsen is the Carolyn and Fred McManis Professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton College, Illinois, and the author of The Slain God: Anthropologists and the Christian Faith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), an intellectual history of the relationship between anthropology and Christianity. Here Brian Howell, Professor of Anthropology at Wheaton, introduces comments on the book from J. Derrick Lemons, Jon Bialecki, James Bielo and Tanya Luhrmann, as well as a response from Larsen.