Mkallyah, “Indigenous Tanzanian Music in Christian Worship”

Mkallyah, Kassomo. 2016. Affects and Effects of Indigenous Tanzanian Music Traditions in Christian Worship in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Ethnomusicology 60(2): 300-328.

Abstract: This paper explores specific musical and cultural attributes that make indigenous Tanzanian music traditions effective in church worship in Dar es Salaam, the foremost metropolis in this East African nation. Based in empirical evidence, it argues that the power of indigenous Tanzanian music traditions, in heightening the religious experience of believers, is inherent in musical attributes – melody, harmony, and rhythms – as well as cultural aesthetics that facilitate the believers’ identification with such local music. Specifically, the article shows how the power of indigenous Tanzanian music to arouse deep and demonstrable emotions among church members is attributable to the characteristics of traditional music and its cultural usage. Indeed, as the article affirms, the strength of these culturally-rich indigenous Tanzanian music traditions can be traced to their African origins and the traditional attributes and aesthetics that make them deeply religious and powerful in generating emotions.

Jennings, “Imagining Jesus doing a Whole Lotta Shakin'”

Jennings, Mark.  2014. Imagining Jesus doing a Whole Lotta Shakin’: Pentecostal worship, popular music and the politics of experience.  Culture and Religion 15(2): 211-226.

Abstract: This paper commences with a brief outline of the history of the symbiotic relationship between popular music and Pentecostalism in the USA. While early rockers learned many of the techniques of ecstasy from Pentecostal worship, in recent times Pentecostal/charismatic songwriters and worship leaders have completed the circle, re-appropriating popular music forms for use in church. This is particularly the case in Australia, where Hillsong and Planetshakers have led the way in composing worship music using rock, pop and hip-hop forms. Drawing from ethnographic data from my own participant observation at an Australian Pentecostal church, I attempt to address the question ‘Can the ecstatic encounter with God which is central to Pentecostalism be accessed in other, “unbaptized” (i.e. non-Christian) musical contexts?’ The ambivalence of responses from the members of ‘Breakfree’ Christian church point to the fact that this is a political issue: at stake is the authority to determine which experiences are ‘Christian’, and which not.

Jennings, “Imagining Jesus doing a Whole Lotta Shakin'”

Jennings, Mark.  2014. Imagining Jesus doing a Whole Lotta Shakin’: Pentecostal worship, popular music and the politics of experience.  Culture and Religion 15(2): 211-226.

Abstract: This paper commences with a brief outline of the history of the symbiotic relationship between popular music and Pentecostalism in the USA. While early rockers learned many of the techniques of ecstasy from Pentecostal worship, in recent times Pentecostal/charismatic songwriters and worship leaders have completed the circle, re-appropriating popular music forms for use in church. This is particularly the case in Australia, where Hillsong and Planetshakers have led the way in composing worship music using rock, pop and hip-hop forms. Drawing from ethnographic data from my own participant observation at an Australian Pentecostal church, I attempt to address the question ‘Can the ecstatic encounter with God which is central to Pentecostalism be accessed in other, “unbaptized” (i.e. non-Christian) musical contexts?’ The ambivalence of responses from the members of ‘Breakfree’ Christian church point to the fact that this is a political issue: at stake is the authority to determine which experiences are ‘Christian’, and which not.

Miles-Watson, “Pipe organs and satsang: Contemporary worship in Shimla’s colonial churches”

Miles-Watson, Jonathan. 2013. Pipe organs and satsang: Contemporary worship in Shimla’s colonial churches. Culture and Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal 14(2):204-222.

Abstract: This article explores two seemingly contrasting types of Christian worship (one led by the pipe organ and the other by satsang), which I repeatedly experienced (between 2006 and 2010) during my fieldwork in Shimla, North India. Although it is often assumed that the pipe organ speaks more to colonial worship and satsang to postcolonial worship, this article demonstrates that both of these styles of worship are actually postcolonial attempts to negotiate colonial history. This suggests a need to complicate contemporary external discussions of the inculturation of Christian worship in India. Furthermore, by focusing on the way that contemporary Christians work with missionary histories to create living landscapes of worship, this article demonstrates that Christian worship is central to the identity of many non-Christian residents and tourists, who are also central to the formation of Christian landscapes of worship. The article concludes by suggesting that these groups also need to be brought into debates about the nature of Christian worship in contemporary India.

Cannell, “The Blood of Abraham”

Cannell, Fenella. 2013. The Blood of Abraham: Mormon redemptive physicality and American idioms of kinship. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19(s1):77-94.

Abstract: For Latter-day Saints, blood is one important idiom of kinship, and of Christian worship, but not in the ways one might expect. This paper asks how the logic of the resurrected and ‘perfected’ body inhabits both registers, beginning with the surprisingly ‘bloodless’ LDS Sacrament Service. I then explore the paths by which Latter-day Saints navigate meanings of blood kinship in tension, especially attribution to the ‘Abrahamic lineages’. I argue, in agreement with Armand Mauss, that contemporary Mormonism has largely shed racist readings of ‘blood’, but suggest that both lineage and cognatic kinship as mystery remain salient through a ‘reduplicative logic’ which collapses physical inheritance, agency, and revelation. This illuminates both similarities to and differences from conservative American Protestant positions, including understandings of the life of the unborn fetus and the rights and wrongs of stem cell research.