Abstract: Indigenous groups creatively incorporate outside institutions, including Christianity, for local purposes. Furthermore, people who see themselves as observing tradition may also construe themselves as being Christian and citizens of a nation. Despite the original external origins of Christianity, meaning becomes locally constructed and asserted for local purposes so that religion as practiced is about local, regional, or national concerns rather than commitment to particular dogmas, institutions, and hierarchy. A case in point are the people of Pollap in the Caroline Islands of Micronesia, who converted to Christianity in the middle of the twentieth century through the efforts of a Catholic catechist. Today the islanders practice a vibrant version of Catholicism in which local symbols and beliefs infuse imported Catholic ritual, and in which biblical verses and imagery support secular, political strategies. Pollapese seem less concerned with theology and more with behavior that demonstrates good character. As they attempt to exploit and reconcile potentially conflicting guides for behavior from the realms of religion, tradition, and government, they make strategic use of their understandings of Catholicism’s dictates for political and social purposes.
Publisher’s Description: This interdisciplinary introduction offers students a truly global overview of the worldwide spread and impact of Christianity. It is enriched throughout by detailed historic and ethnographic material, showing how broad themes within Christianity have been adopted and adapted by Christian denominations within each major region of the world.
- Provides a comprehensive overview of the spread and impact of world Christianity
- Contains studies from every major region of the world, including Africa, Asia, Latin America, the North Atlantic, and Oceania
- Brings together an international team of contributors from history, sociology, and anthropology, as well as religious studies
- Examines the significant social, cultural, and political transformations in contemporary societies brought about through the influence of Christianity
- Takes a non-theological approach, focusing instead on the impact of and response to Christianity
- Discusses Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic, and Orthodox forms of the faith
- Features useful maps and illustrations
- Combines broader discussions with detailed regional analysis, creating an invaluable introduction to world Christianity
This is an engaging multidisciplinary introduction to the worldwide spread and impact of Christianity. Bringing together chapters from leading scholars in history, sociology, anthropology, and religious studies, this book examines the major transformations in contemporary societies brought about through the influence of Christianity.
Each chapter shows how the broad themes within Christianity have been adopted and adapted by Christian denominations within each major region of the world. In this way, the book paints a global picture of the impact of Christianity, enriched by detailed historic and ethnographic material for each particular region. Throughout, the chapters examine Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox forms of Christianity. The combination of broader perspectives and deep analysis of particular regions, illuminating the social, cultural, political, and religious features of changes brought about by Christianity, makes this book essential reading for students of world Christianity.