Merz and Merz, “Occupying the Ontological Penumbra”

Merz, Johannes and Sharon Merz. 2017. Occupying the Ontological Penumbra: Towards a Postsecular and Theologically Minded Anthropology. Religions 8(5):80-97.

Abstract: In the wake of the postsecular turn, we propose to reappraise both the religious as studied in anthropology and how anthropologists who have religious or spiritual interests can contribute to an emerging postsecular anthropology. Such an anthropology recognizes the failure of secularization theory to dissolve the dichotomy between the religious and the secular. We propose that as anthropologists we consciously occupy the ontological penumbra, an ambiguous and plural space in which we engage with various counterparts, both human and nonhuman. This means that we have to be open to the real possibility of the existence of gods, spirits, and other nonhuman entities. These should not only be treated as subjects of study, but also recognized as valid counterparts with whom we can engage in the ethnographic encounter. While this necessitates relinquishing the former privileged position of secular and Western epistemology, it opens up the discipline to a potentially unprecedented ethnographic productivity that is epistemologically and ontologically innovative. Without neglecting its secular heritage, such a theologically minded postsecular anthropology places anthropology in a better position to explore what it is to be human, especially in terms of understanding religious and spiritual experiences.

Brandner, “Pentecostals in the Public Sphere”

Brandner, Tobias.  2017.  Pentecostals in the Public Sphere: Between Counterculturalism and Adaptation (Observations from the Chinese Context in Hong Kong).  PentecoStudies 16(1): 117-137.

Abstract: This paper analyses the public theology of Pentecostalism in the Chinese context of Hong Kong by discussing Pentecostal Christians’ public involvement. It asks whether Pentecostal Christians actively shape society or are rather shaped by the surrounding culture and absorb and reflect dominant trends within a culture. The essay explains the different aspects of a Pentecostal public theology in the Chinese context by first giving an overview of different historical forms of Pentecostalism in the Hong Kong and Chinese context, each of them expressing a different pattern of public expression and engagement with public issues. The essay then presents some cases of how Pentecostalism engaged in public issues in Hong Kong. A third part identifies motifs of Pentecostalism that are particularly prominent in the Chinese cultural context. The article suggests that these cultural elements shape the engagement with public spheres and push Pentecostals in the Chinese context towards a public theology that is similar to that of conservative Evangelicals.

Kim, “Korean Pentecostalism and Shamanism”

Kim, Kirsteen.  2017. Korean Pentecostalism and Shamanism: Developing Theological Self-understanding in a Land of Many Spirits.  PentecoStudies 16(1): 59-84.

Abstract: The background to this article is the controversy caused in 1980s South Korea when some theologians accused Yonggi Cho’s Full Gospel theology of syncretizing “shamanism” with Christianity. In this article, I shall problematize the use of both “shamanism” and “Pentecostalism” in this controversy. Instead, I shall set the episode in the wider context of what might be called Korean traditional religion, which has an animistic cosmology. By pointing to an affinity between Korean Protestantism more generally and Korean traditional religion that goes back at least to the 1907 Korean Revival, I shall argue that the Pentecostal–Charismatic and the liberationist strands of Korean Protestantism together represent a developing understanding of what it means to do Christian theology in the context of animism – or in a land of many spirits.

Lindhardt, “Pentecostalism and the Encounter with Traditional Religion”

Lindhardt, Martin.  2017.  Pentecostalism and the Encounter with Traditional Religion in Tanzania: Combat, Congruence and Confusion.  PentecoStudies 16(1): 35-58.

Abstract: This research article explores how expressions of Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity in Tanzania have taken shape through a complex entanglement with African traditional religion and traditional healing. On the one hand, Tanzanian Pentecostals/Charismatics conceive of figures associated with the world of tradition (witches, traditional healers, different kinds of spirits) as the main adversaries in the spiritual warfare they understand themselves to be engaged in. At the same time I show how many of the beliefs that we might lump under the category of “tradition” constitute something of a common cultural ground that cuts across ethnic and religious divides. While Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity does in some ways represent a particular religious culture, I argue that we are also well served by considering Pentecostals/Charismatics as participants in a common and highly vibrant religious/spiritual/medical field where different kinds of interchanges, overlaps and mutual inspirations occur. For instance, I show how a concern with healing inspires multifaceted practices of positioning as Pentecostals/Charismatics both demonize traditional healers, and simultaneously take pains to highlight similarities between the power of God and the powers of traditional healing. Finally, I argue that processes of adaptation and the highlighting of similarities also imply a risk of confusion, as it sometimes becomes difficult to distinguish the power of God from the powers of healers and witchcraft.

Bauman, “Pentecostals and Interreligious Conflict in India”

Bauman, Chad M.  2017.  Pentecostals and Interreligious Conflict in India: Proselytization, Marginalization, and Anti-Christian Violence.  PentecoStudies 16(1): 8-34.

Abstract: Anti-Christian violence in India has increased dramatically since the late 1990s, and there are now, on average, several hundred attacks on Christians every year. In this violence, Pentecostals are disproportionately targeted. This article begins by providing the historical and political context for anti-Christian violence, and then seeks to account for the disproportionate targeting of Pentecostals. While there are certain obvious factors, such as the more assertive evangelizing of Pentecostals (and other Evangelicals) vis-à-vis mainstream Christian groups, the article explores and highlights several less obvious factors, and in particular the peculiar social, theological, ecclesiastical and liturgical aspects of Pentecostalism that make this form of Christianity particularly objectionable to Hindu nationalists, as well – importantly – as to many mainstream and upper-caste/upper-class Indian Christians.

Koosa, “Negotiating Faith and Identity”

Koosa, Piret. 2017. Negotiating Faith and Identity in a Komi Village: Protestant Christians in a pro-Orthodox sociocultural environment. Doctoral Dissertation, Institute for Cultural Research and Fine Arts. Tartu: University of Tartu.

Excerpt: This study explores the dynamics of post-Soviet religious life in the Komi Republic, in Northern Russia. After the demise of communism and the Soviet Union, the question of identity has been a central concern in Russia as well as in the Komi Republic. Consequently, religion has acquired an important social role as it is a means of creating and sustaining identity and culture. Religions which are perceived as “new” or “foreign”, however, have gained more and more negative attention since the mid 1990’s. Following the religious freedom law in 1990, numerous (locally) “new” religious groups began appearing. These faiths were introduced and promoted by foreign missionaries. One Russian peculiarity is that some of these religious groups, which are quite mainstream in other parts of the world, are termed “new”, despite their often actually having had a considerable history within Russia as well. Protestant Christianity and especially its evangelical offshoots are probably most notable examples of religions holding this peculiar position and being surrounded by popular controversies.

Opas and Haapalainen, eds, “Christianity and the Limits of Materiality”

Opas, Minna and Anna Haapalainen, eds.  2017.  Christianity and the Limits of Materiality.  London: Bloomsbury.

Publisher’s Description: Despite the fact that Christianity is understood to be thoroughly intertwined with matter, objects, and things, Christians struggle to cope with this materiality in their daily lives. This volume argues that the ambivalent relationships many Christians have with materiality is a driving force that contributes to the way people in different Christian traditions and in different parts of the world understand and live out their religion.

By placing the questions of limits and boundary-work to the fore, the volume addresses the question of exactly how Christianity takes place materially, addressing a gap in studies to date. Christianity and the Limits of Materiality presents ground-breaking research on the frameworks and contexts in relation to and within which Christian logics of materiality operate. The volume places the negotiations at the limits of materiality within the larger framework of Christian identities and politics of belonging.
The chapters discuss case studies from North and South America, Europe, and Africa, and demonstrate that the limits preoccupying Christians delimit their lives but also enable many things. Ultimately, Christianity and the Limits of Materiality demonstrates that it is at the interfaces of materiality and the transcendent that Christians create and legitimise their religion.
Foreword, David Morgan (Duke University, USA)
Introduction, Minna Opas & Anna Haapalainen (University of Turku, Finland)
Part 1: Doubting
1. Spirit Media and the Spectre of the Fake, Marleen de Witte (Unviersity of Amsterdam, the Netherlands)
2. Organic Faith in Amazonia: De-indexification, doubt and Christian corporeality, Minna Opas (University of Turku, Finland)
3. Things not for themselves: idolatry and consecration in Orthodox Ethiopia, Tom Boylston (University of Edinburgh)
Part 2: Sufficing
4. The Bible in the Digital Age: Negotiating the Limits of ‘Bibleness’ of Different Bible Media, Katja Rakow(Heidelberg University, Germany)
5. The Plausibility of Immersion: limits and creativity in materializing the Bible, James Bielo (Miami University, USA)
6.Humanizing the Bible: Limits of materiality in a passion play, Anna Haapalainen (University of Turku, Finland)
7. Semana Santa processions in Granada – Religion or Spectacle? Sari Kuuva (University of Jyväskylä, Finland)
8. The death and rebirth of a crucifix: Materiality and the sacred in Andean vernacular Catholicism, Diego Alonso Huerta (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú / University of Helsinki, Finland)
Part 3: Unbinding
9. Proving the Inner Word: (De)materializing the Spirit in Radical Pietism Elisa Heinämäki (University of Helsinki, Finland)
10. The Return of the Unclean Spirit: Collapse and Relapse in the Baptist rehab ministry Igor Mikeshin (University of Helsinki, Finland)
11. Mimesis and Mediation in the Semana Santa Processions of Granada, Sari Kuuva, University of Jyväskylä
Afterword: Diana Espirito Santo (London School of Economics, UK)

Handman, “Walking Like a Christian”

Handman, Courtney.  2017. Walking like a Christian: Roads, translation, and gendered bodies as religious infrastructure in Papua New Guinea.  American Ethnologist.  Early online publication.

Abstract: Homologies between so-called soft infrastructures like language and hard ones like roads depend on ethnographically variable metaphors of circulation. In these homologies, speakers understand language to propel or inhibit forms of physical movement, affecting the embodied experiences of transportation or locomotion. In the case of Guhu-Samane Christians in Papua New Guinea, people focus on language as a kind of infrastructure as they grapple with postcolonial feelings of disconnection from divine powers that were once manifest in a New Testament translation. They channel this sense of disconnection into ongoing complaints about their lack of a vehicular road and the pain of walking, particularly walking like a heavily burdened woman. If a road were built into their valley, this would signal the New Testament’s transformation into Christian infrastructure.

Yang, et al, eds, “Global Chinese Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity”

Yang, Fenggang, Joy K. C. Tong, and Allan H. Anderson.  2017.  Global Chinese Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity.  Leiden: Brill.

Publisher’s Description: This is the first scholarly volume on Chinese Christian Pentecostal and charismatic movements around the globe. The authors include the most active and renowned scholars of global Pentecostalism and Chinese Christianity, including Allan Anderson, Daniel Bays, Kim-twang Chan, Gordon Melton, Donald Miller, and Fenggang Yang. It covers historical linkages between Pentecostal missions and indigenous movements in greater China, contemporary charismatic congregations in China, Singapore, Malaysia, and the United States, and the Catholic charismatic renewal movement in China. The volume also engages discussion and disagreement on whether it is even appropriate to refer to many of the Chinese Christian movements as Pentecostal or charismatic. If not, are they primarily following cultural traditions, or upholding beliefs and practices in the Bible?


Pentecostals and Charismatics among Chinese Christians: An Introduction
Fenggang Yang, Joy K. C. Tong, and Allan H. Anderson

Part 1. Historical, Global, and Local Contexts

Chapter 1. Contextualizing the Contemporary Pentecostal Movement in China
Donald E. Miller
Chapter 2. Chinese Ecstatic Millenarian Folk Religion with Pentecostal Christian Characteristics?
Daniel H. Bays
Chapter 3. Pentecostalism Comes to China: Laying the Foundations for a Chinese Version of Christianity
J. Gordon Melton
Chapter 4. Elitism and Poverty: Early Pentecostalism in Hong Kong (1907–1945)
Connie Au

Part 2. A Chinese Pentecostal Denomination: The True Jesus Church

Chapter 5. Charismatic Crossings: The Transnational, Transdenominational Friendship of Bernt Berntsen and Wei Enbo
Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye
Chapter 6. Taming the Spirit by Appropriating Indigenous Culture: An Ethnographic Study of the True Jesus Church as Confucian-Style Pentecostalism
Ke-hsien Huang
Chapter 7. Glossolalia and Church Identity: The Role of Sound in the Making of a Chinese Pentecostal-Charismatic Church
Yen-zen Tsai

Part 3. Pentecostal or Non-Pentecostal: Self-Identity and Scholarly Observation

Chapter 8. Spirituality and Spiritual Practice: Is the Local Church Pentecostal?
Jiayin Hu
Chapter 9. Are Chinese Christians Pentecostal? A Catholic Reading of Pentecostal Influence on Chinese Christians
Michel Chambon
Chapter 10. The “Galilee of China”: Pentecostals without Pentecostalism
Yi Liu

Part 4. New-Wave Charismatics in Chinese Societies

Chapter 11. “Christianity Fever” and Unregistered Churches in China
Selena Y. Z. Su and Allan H. Anderson
Chapter 12. China’s Patriotic Pentecostals
Karrie J. Koesel
Chapter 13. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Mainland China
Rachel Xiaohong Zhu
Chapter 14. City Harvest Church of Singapore: An Ecclesial Paradigm for Pentecostalism in the Postmodern World
Kim-kwong Chan
Chapter 15. The Localization of Charismatic Christianity among the Chinese in Malaysia: A Study of Full Gospel Tabernacle
Weng Kit Cheong and Joy K. C. Tong
Chapter 16. The Femininity of Chinese Christianity: A Study of a Chinese Charismatic Church and Its Female Leadership
Joy K. C. Tong and Fenggang Yang

Conclusion: Challenges, Theories, and Methods in Studying Chinese “Pentecostalism”
Allan H. Anderson

Johnson, “If I Give My Soul”

Johnson, Andrew.  2017.  If I Give My Soul: Faith Behind Bars in Rio de Janeiro.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Publisher’s Description: Pentecostal Christianity is flourishing inside the prisons of Rio de Janeiro. To find out why, Andrew Johnson dug deep into the prisons themselves. He began by spending two weeks living in a Brazilian prison as if he were an inmate: sleeping in the same cells as the inmates, eating the same food, and participating in the men’s daily routines as if he were incarcerated. And he returned many times afterward to observe prison churches’ worship services, which were led by inmates who had been voted into positions of leadership by their fellow prisoners. He accompanied Pentecostal volunteers when they visited cells that were controlled by Rio’s most dominant criminal gang to lead worship services, provide health care, and deliver other social services to the inmates. Why does this faith resonate so profoundly with the incarcerated? Pentecostalism, argues Johnson, is the “faith of the killable people” and offers ex-criminals and gang members the opportunity to positively reinvent their public personas. If I Give My Soul provides a deeply personal look at the relationship between the margins of Brazilian society and the Pentecostal faith, both behind bars and in the favelas, Rio de Janeiro’s peripheral neighborhoods. Based on his intimate relationships with the figures in this book, Johnson makes a passionate case that Pentecostal practice behind bars is an act of political radicalism as much as a spiritual experience.