Davie-Kessler, “‘Discover Your Destiny’: Sensation, Time, and Bible Reading among Nigerian Pentecostals”

Davie-Kessler, Jesse. 2016.  “Discover Your Destiny”: Sensation, Time, and Bible Reading among Nigerian Pentecostals. Anthropologica 58(1):1-14.

 Abstract: Pentecostal Christians in southwest Nigeria claim to experience divine revelations of personal destiny by reading scripture. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, this article argues that members’ sensual reading practices are entangled with perceptions of time. Church members use bodily experience to construct a near future that they understand as continuous with the lived present. To examine the production of embodied religious temporality, I use a stage-based analysis of Pentecostal hermeneutic development. Church members gradually progress from “beginning” to “advanced” stages of Bible reading, generating new relationships to the self and to a Christian cosmology.

Kaell, “Under the Law of God: mimesis and mimetic discipleshipamong Jewish-affinity Christians”

Kaell, Hillary. 2016. Under the Law of God: mimesis and mimetic discipleship among Jewish-affinity Christians. JRAI DOI: 10.1111/1467-9655.12443.

Abstract: Messianic Judaism, a network of congregations that incorporate Jewish ritual into evangelical worship, is one branch of a fast-growing trend among Christians globally towards ‘Jewish affinity’. Drawing on a multi-site comparison in North America, this article examines one of Messianic Judaism’s most significant internal debates: should non-ethnically Jewish ‘gentile believers’ (GBs) obey biblical laws? It argues that GBs do not simply imitate Jews badly, as outsiders and their own leaders often believe. Rather, their actions are best characterized as mimesis in two complementary forms: mimesis of Jews and ‘mimetic discipleship’ of Jesus-the-Jew. Taken together, these forms offer a heuristic tool sufficiently capacious to explain both individuals’ propensity for Jewish practice and the socially specific ways it is constructed. I conclude that Jewish affinity reflects a key problem in contemporary Christianity, namely what happens when people in one religion (Christianity) come to believe that their God incarnated in the body of a man they now associate with another religion (Judaism)?

Preaching Prevention: Book Review

Boyd, Lydia. 2015. Preaching prevention: born-again Christianity and the moral politics of AIDS in Uganda. Athens: University of Ohio Press.

By: Anna Eisenstein (University of Virginia)

Lydia Boyd’s Preaching Prevention charts two moments in Uganda’s recent history: the roll-out of the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Asking what these two cases have in common, Boyd explores Ugandan born again Christians’ engagement with discourses on sexuality and health in the midst of rapid urbanization, neoliberal global health policies, and the international sexual rights movement. In classic anthropological fashion, she finds that “indigenous moral logics” animate and valorize specific sexual practices in this particular historical and cultural context. Far from a unidirectional “export” of American approaches to care and treatment, Ugandan born-again Christians re-oriented and re-purposed US-directed messages about sexuality and personal agency in light of longstanding, locally relevant models of hierarchal interdependence. By documenting the distinctive motivations of Ugandan Christians, the book forms an important corrective to assumptions that Ugandan Christian attitudes and activisms merely parrot American Christianity, or that the beliefs and interests of American and Ugandan Christians are interchangeable.

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Chitando and van Klinken (eds), “Christianity and Controversies over Homosexuality”

Chitando, Ezra and Adriaan van Klinken.  2016. Christianity and Controversies over Homosexuality in Contemporary Africa. New York: Routledge.

Publisher’s Description: Issues of homosexuality are the subject of public and political controversy in many African societies today. Frequently, these controversies receive widespread attention both locally and globally, such as with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. In the international media, these cases tend to be presented as revealing a deeply-rooted homophobia in Africa fuelled by religious and cultural traditions. But so far little energy is expended in understanding these controversies in all their complexity and the critical role religion plays in them. Complementing the companion volume, Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa, this book investigates Christian politics and discourses on homosexuality in sub-Saharan Africa. The contributors present case studies from various African countries, from Nigeria to South Africa and from Cameroon to Uganda, focusing on Pentecostal, Catholic and mainline Protestant churches. They critically examine popular Christian theologies that perpetuate homophobia and discrimination, but they also discuss contestations of such discourses and emerging alternative Christian perspectives that contribute to the recognition of sexual diversity, social justice and human rights in contemporary Africa.

Contents:

Introduction: Christianity and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa Adriaan van Klinken and Ezra Chitando

Part I: Pentecostalism as a Public Religion

1. Sexual Bodies, Sacred Vessels: Pentecostal Discourses on Homosexuality in Nigeria Asonzeh Ukah

2. Scandal Makers: Competition in the Religious Market among Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches in Uganda Caroline Valois

3. The Homophobic Trinity: Pentecostal End-time, Prosperity and Healing Gospels as Contributors to Homophobia in Cameroon Frida Lyonga

4. A Kenyan Queer Prophet: Binyavanga Wainaina’s Public Contestation of Pentecostalism and Homophobia Adriaan van Klinken

Part II: Broader Christian Case Studies and Perspectives

5. Christianity, Homosexuality and Public Politics in Zambia Derrick M. Muwina

6. The Anti-homosexual Narrative in the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe: Political Diatribe or Religious Conservatism? Lovemore Ndlovu

7. Queer Fragility and Christian Social Ethics: A Political Interpolation of the Catholic Church in Cameroon S.N. Nyeck

8. Is “Being Right” More Important than “Being Together”? Intercultural Bible Reading and Life-giving Dialogue on Homosexuality in the Dutch Reformed Church, South Africa Charlene van der Walt

Part III: Christian Subversions and Transformations

9. Enduring and Subverting Homophobia: Religious Experiences of Same-sex Loving People in Zimbabwe Nelson Muparamoto

10. ‘Born this Way’: The Imago Dei in Men Who Love Other Men in Lusaka, Zambia Lilly Phiri

11. Unlikely Allies? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Activists and Church Leaders in Africa Ezra Chitando and Tapiwa P. Mapuranga

12. Reconfiguring a Biblical Story (Genesis 19) in the Context of South African Discussions about Homosexuality Gerald O. West

Brison, “Teaching Neoliberal Emotions”

Brison, Karen J.  2016. Teaching Neoliberal Emotions through Christian Pedagogies in Fijian Kindergartens.  Ethos 44(2): 133-149.

Abstract: This article examines a Fijian kindergarten using Accelerated Christian Education (ACE), a curriculum produced by an American corporation for Christian homeschoolers, which combines academic and emotion pedagogies. Pedagogies prompting children to label, reflect on, and control their emotions are popular in American schools and said to develop skills necessary to be self-directed, risk-taking entrepreneurs under neoliberalism. In contrast, in Fiji, children educated with the ACE curriculum are told that feeling the correct emotions is a “commitment” and that submitting to authority will benefit everyone. The ACE curriculum appears to turn working-class American children and children in peripheral countries like Fiji into submissive workers in corporations while middle-class Euro-American children are socialized to become innovative entrepreneurs. But further examination shows that Fijian parents and teachers see the curriculum as giving their children the proper skills to succeed in a world outside of Fiji.

Agadjanian (ed), “Armenian Christianity Today”

Agadjanian, Alexander.  2014.  Armenia Christianity Today: Identity Politics and Popular Practice.  New York: Routledge. 

Publisher’s Description: Armenian Christianity Today examines contemporary religious life and the social, political, and cultural functions of religion in the post-Soviet Republic of Armenia and in the Armenian Diaspora worldwide. Scholars from a range of countries and disciplines explore current trends and everyday religiosity, particularly within the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC), and amongst Armenian Catholics, Protestants and vernacular religions. Themes examined include: Armenian grass-roots religiosity; the changing forms of regular worship and devotion; various types of congregational life; and the dynamics of social composition of both the clergy and lay believers. Exploring through the lens of Armenia, this book considers wider implications of ’postsecular’ trends in the role of global religion.

Auvinen-Pöntinen and Jørgensen (eds), “Mission and Money”

Auvinen- Pöntinen, Mari-Anna and Jonas Adelin Jørgensen, eds.  2016.  Mission and Money: Christian Mission in the Context of Global Inequalities.  Leiden: Brill.

Publisher’s Description: Mission and Money; Christian Mission in the Context of Global Inequalities offers academic discussion about the mission of the Church in the context of contemporary economic inequalities globally, challenging the reader to reconsider mission in the light of existing poverty, and investigating how economic structures could be challenged in the light of ethical and spiritual considerations. The book includes contributions on the subjects of poverty and inequality from the theologians, economists and anthropologists who gave keynote presentations at the European Missiological Conference (IAMS Europe) that took place in April 2014 in Helsinki, Finland. This conference was a major step forward in terms of discussion between missiologists and economists on global economic structures and their influence on human dignity.

Contents:

Introduction – Jonas Adelin Jørgensen and Mari-Anna Auvinen-Pöntinen
Introducing Authors

Part I
A Challenge of Theological-Missiological Reflection on Money and Mobility in the Globalizing World – Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen

Part II
Ethics and Global Economics – Vesa Kanniainen
Asian Perspectives on Global Economic Inequality – Felix Wilfred
Christian Mission in a World under the Grip of an Unholy Trinity: Inequality, Poverty and Unemployment – Tinyiko Sam Maluleke
Poverty and Power: African Challenges to Christian Mission – Gerrie ter Haar
The Mission of the Church amidst European Social and Economic Crisis: The Case of Greece – Evi Voulgaraki-Pissina
Interreligious Liberation Theologies, Money and Just Relations – Ulrich Duchrow
Economic Development and Christian Mission: A Perspective from History of Mission – Jonathan J. Bonk

Part III
Mission and Money in Two Recent Mission Documents: The WCC’s Together towards Life and Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium – Stephen Bevans
Mission and Money—Mapping the Field – Mika Vähäkangas

High, “A Little Bit Christian”

High, Casey. 2016. “A Little Bit Christian”: Memories of Conversion and Community in Post-Christian Amazonia. American AnthropologistDOI: 10.1111/aman.12526

Abstract: Conversion to Christianity in Amazonia is often described in terms of collective action rather than radically new beliefs interior to the individual. I describe how Waorani people in Ecuador remember the conversion of specific elders as a time of civilization that brought Waorani into a wider social order after a period of violence and isolation. Despite having largely abandoned Christianity since their mass conversion in the 1960s, Waorani today embrace past conversion as a catalyst of social transformation that they say made the present ideal of living in a “community” possible. The individual experiences evoked in memories of collective “civilization” and an insistence on personal autonomy in Waorani visions of community illustrate why the moral commentaries of Waorani Christians remain highly valued in communities where Christianity has ceased to be a dominant social identity.

Zaloom, “The evangelical financial ethic”

Zaloom, Caitlin, 2016. The evangelical financial ethic: Doubled forms and the search for God in the economic world. American Ethnologist 43(2):325-338.

Abstract: In evangelical churches across the United States, volunteers assist other church members in transforming household budgets into lenses that reveal God’s kingdom on earth, reframing the force and volatility of markets as divine mystery. The strategies of financial ministry are distinctive, yet they engage a more general conundrum that pits economic success against conflicting ethical projects; they illuminate the process of ethical management in the financial economy. The ministries’ uses of budgets also challenge the idea that market devices gain power primarily by formatting economic transactions and establishing conditions for market exchange. Evangelical financial ministries show how, in everyday calculative practices, a device such as a household budget renders the spiritual economic, and the economic spiritual. In the exercise of evangelical ethics, financial ministry returns the divine touch to the invisible hand.

Wignall, “A man after god’s own heart”

Wignall, Ross. 2016. A man after god’s own heart’: charisma masculinity and leadership at a charismatic Church in Brighton and Hove, UK. Religion DOI:10.1080/0048721X.2016.1169452

Abstract: This article suggests that the gendered aspects of charisma have so far been overlooked in recent scholarship and seeks to align studies of charismatic religious leaders more fully with studies of masculinity and the ‘masculinisation’ of Charismatic churches. Based on research conducted at the Church of Christ the King (CCK) in Brighton and Hove, UK, I analyses how leadership operates as a key language for mediating masculinity, giving young men ways of being manly within both Christian and church parameters as well as forming links between experienced leaders and their young apprentices. Focusing on a dramatic visit by a notorious international preacher as an instance of charismatic masculinity in action, the author shows how an understanding of a corporate culture of masculinity can lend new insight into our understanding of charisma as both a relational construct and a system of individual authority which is tested at times of crisis and succession.