Bielo, “Literally Creative”

Bielo, James. 2015. Literally Creative: Intertextual Gaps and Artistic Agency. In Scripturalizing the Human: The Written as the Political, edited by Vincent L. Wimbush, 21-33. New York, NY; Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Excerpt: “In this chapter I approach Ark Encounter as a grand act of scripturalizing. Following scholarship on the social life of scriptures, an ethnography of this biblical theme park-in-the-making focuses not on scripture as text but on “the signs, material products, ritual practices and performances, expressivities, orientations, ethics, and politics associated with the phenomenon of the invention and uses of ‘scriptures’” (Wimbush 2008: 3). With the example of Ark Encounter, we can add to this list the cultural labor that must be invested to bring new scriptural forms into being. Ark Encounter is scripturalizing imagined, sketched, colored, sculpted, materialized, and engineered. Ark Encounter emerges from a long tradition of scripturalizing performed by a familiar set of scripturalizers: conservative Protestant biblical literalists. What I aim to show in this chapter is that the frame for their work—a religious theme park that promises edification and entertainment in equal doses—requires that scholars seeking to understand Ark Encounter engage in some analytical recalibrating.”

Vallikivi, “On the Edge of Space and Time”

Vallikivi, Laur. 2014. On the Edge of Space and Time: Evangelical Missionaries in the Post-Soviet Arctic. Journal of Ethnology and Folklorisitics 8(2): 95-120.

Abstract: Evangelical missionaries have missionised pretty much throughout Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Among their favourite targets are the small-numbered indigenous groups in the Russian Arctic, where the numbers of converts are steadily growing. One particular denomination, known as the Unregistered Baptists, are among the leading agents of religious change in the North today. They are driven by the promise of the return of Christ after the gospel is preached “at the ends of the earth”. I suggest that the Baptists’ agenda is shaped, on the one hand, by the literal reading of the Bible, which allows them to be the divine instruments at the end times and, on the other hand, by the idea of Russia’s special role in God’s salvation plan. I shall analyse the Baptists’ ideas and practices, using among others Bakhtin’s concept of chronotope in order to demonstrate how powerful narratives are created and lived.

Chipumuro, “Breaking Bread with the Brethren: Fraternalism and Text in a Black Atlantic Church Community”

Chipumuro Todne Thomas. 2012. Breaking Bread with the Brethren: Fraternalism and Text in a Black Atlantic Church Community. Journal of African American Studies 16(4):604–621 

Abstract:  This ethnographic article examines the constitution of brotherhood at Dixon Bible Chapel (DBC)—a West Indian and African American Brethren church community located in Lithonia, Georgia, a suburb of the Atlanta metropolitan area. Based on my analysis of interview, oral history, and church historical texts collected during fieldwork from 2006 to 2008, I propose that DBC members conceptualize brotherhood as an egalitarian, closely knit form of religious belonging inspired by New Testament representations of the church. Furthermore, I argue that is through DBC brothers’ textual rituals that brotherhood is substantiated as a framework for male democratic religious participation and leadership. Though hierarchies of class, ethnicity, gender, and generation segment the ranks of DBC brotherhood and the church community writ large, church members invest in brotherhood as a social formation that they believe sidesteps the exclusions of mainstream religious institutions. Extending the implications of DBC brotherhood to the present issue’s emphasis of black fraternal organizations, I pose questions about the meanings and salience of fraternalism as a social model for Afro-diasporic institution building.