Abstract: Patterns of sociality in Fijian evangelical Christianity differ from the mainline Fijian Methodist church in being notably less integrated with relations of vanua and chiefly hierarchy, leading scholars to speculate as to whether such traditions are more individualised. Analysing teachings, hymns, worship styles and spatial arrangements within a prominent Fijian Pentecostal ministry, I explore how sociality is produced through the interaction of spatial, conceptual, and embodied processes. Competing dynamics of hierarchy and equality, connections and boundaries, are mobilised within an overall framework that emphasises individual moral authority and personal relationship with God. Through this analysis, in conversation with previous studies, this paper argues for a critical examination of schemes of ‘egalitarian individualism’ and ‘hierarchical holism’, which, through the influence of Louis Dumont in particular, have been prominent in studies of Christianity and sociality in Oceania.
Abstract: In multiethnic Fiji, where ethnic relations are often seen as fraught and potentially charged with conflict, and where religion closely follows lines of ethnicity, attempts by Christian churches to mediate interethnic relations and build multiethnic congregations can face difficult challenges. In this article, two contrasting Christian theologies are explored, both of which draw on theologies of water as a means of mediating interethnic engagements. In these examples, processes of forging interethnic relationships are seen as variously harmonious and dissonant, unifying and separating. Drawing connections between the layered imagery of water employed in these Christian contexts and wider Pacific imaginaries of water in baptism and in the ocean, I explore these shifting processes of forging interethnic relationships in the contested context of contemporary Fiji.
Abstract: How does prayer change the person who prays? In this article, we report on a randomized controlled trial developed to test an ethnographic hypothesis. Our results suggest that prayer which uses the imagination—the kind of prayer practiced in many U.S. evangelical congregations—cultivates the inner senses, and that this cultivation has consequences. Mental imagery grows sharper. Inner experience seems more significant to the person praying. Feelings and sensations grow more intense. The person praying reports more unusual sensory experience and more unusual and more intense spiritual experience. In this work we explain in part why inner sense cultivation is found in so many spiritual traditions, and we illustrate the way spiritual practice affects spiritual experience. We contribute to the anthropology of religion by presenting an attentional learning theory of prayer.