Abstract: I trace interrelations and tensions between varied practices of concealment and discernment in the Church of England by examining contrasting attitudes to sexuality among Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals. Moral panics over the sexual orientations of priests point to wider conflicts over incarnation, mediation, communication and knowledge. Combining historical and ethnographic data on the Church in England and the global Communion, I explore what can and should be openly ‘known’ in Anglican circles. I link my analysis of the Anglican case to wider considerations of what anthropology can and cannot claim to ‘know’ and discern through ethnographic observation, description and analysis.
Carroll, Timothy. 2017. “Axis of Incoherence: Engagement and failure between two material regimes of Christianity. In The Material Culture of Failure: When Things Do Wrong, edited by David Jeevendrampillai, Aaron Parkhurst, Timothy Carroll, and Julie Shackelford, 157-176. London: Bloomsbury.
Excerpt: In this chapter, I work with a more processual phenomenon of ‘failure.’ Rather than the material conforming and then not, the materials discussed in this chapter – a parish church building, to be exact – never fully matches the aspirations of the community.
Abstract: Although Christianity and kastom can be opposed in many important respects, ni-Vanuatu are far from limited by the different opportunities that they each offer. Here, I draw on gender as an ethnographically derived form of description to stress that the relations composing encounters of Christianity and kastom, church leader and chief, allow ni-Vanuatu to imagine and create possibilities for engaging these alternatives in order to share, exchange or take on their specific capacities. I consider the example of an event in which a Church leader offered to extend an emplaced island identity, through the Anglican Church, in exchange for a kastom chief’s assistance to scale-up the appearance of his clan support during his ordination ceremony. In this case gendered difference, and not opposition or conflict, characterises kastom and Christianity’s relationship.
Oroi, Aram. 2016. “‘Press the Button, Mama!’ Mana and Christianity on Makira, Solomon Islands.” In Matt Tomlinson and Ty P. Kāwika Tengan, eds., New Mana Transformations of a Classic Concept in Pacific Languages and Cultures. Canberra: ANU Press.
Excerpt: In this chapter, I discuss the implicit theology of mana in the context of that ‘spiritual switch’ in Makiran Christianity. Mena is the native Arosi word for mana. To explore the implicit theology of mena/mana, I begin with examples of events I have experienced as an Anglican priest serving the community. Next, I review selected literature on mana, considering the usefulness of scholarly accounts for the Makiran context. Finally, I pose questions about mana and efficacy in relation to the idea of pressing buttons and the work of the Holy Spirit. I argue that a proper understanding of mana is vital to the continuing e orts of contextualising the Gospel in Makiran Christianity and clarifying Makiran contextual theology for scholars interested in the social dynamics of Solomon Islands religion.
Abstract: I explore the implications of example-making for both informants and ethnographers through an analysis of the history of the refoundation of the Anglican shrine at Walsingham during the twentieth century. I argue for an appreciation of distinctions between examples as ‘models’ and ‘instances’, but also for a focus on relations between the inchoate and the specific in processes of exemplification. The paper shows how an examination of the making of examples by actors in the field can speak to the creation of examples in writing and analysis, and may introduce elements of ‘serendipity’ more normally associated with encounters in the field.
Abstract: The emerging field of the anthropology of Christianity appears suspended between two poles: a concern with understanding the continuous and relatively coherent traits of the religious tradition as a whole (the “One”), and the documentation of the highly contingent forms found in local communities (the “Many”). This tension, in turn, feeds sometimes intense debates about whether conversion to Christianity along the modern missionary frontier is best understood as rupture from or continuity with indigenous cultural forms and understandings. While such binaries have been highly productive, they are still misleading, because many if not most Christians do not experience the religion in such terms but rather largely in the context of institutionalized rituals, dogmas, and church organizations. I illustrate this point by examining the ways the Maisin people of Papua New Guinea have both adjusted and adapted to Anglicanism over the past century through three modes I describe as “accommodations,” “repurposings,” and “spandrels.” Studying such institutional configurations, I suggest, provides anthropologists a strategic point to consider local versions of Christianity as both One and Many.
Abstract: This paper examines the exhibition practice of the Crypt Memory and Witness Centre of St George’s Anglican Cathedral in a post-apartheid, democratic South Africa. Being neither a museum nor a gallery, the Centre’s practice is informed by a particular, significant historic relationship between Christianity and exhibiting. The paper examines how the Crypt Centre engages with selective events from South Africa’s sociopolitical past through exhibition practice, and to what ends. In particular, it examines the theme of bearing witness that surfaces at multiple levels in the exhibition content and process, considering its relationship with contemporary sociality.