Casselberry, “The Labor of Faith”

Casselberry, Judith.  2017.  The Labor of Faith: Gender and Power in Black Apostolic Pentecostalism.  Durham: Duke University Press.

Publisher’s Description: In The Labor of Faith Judith Casselberry examines the material and spiritual labor of the women of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc., which is based in Harlem and one of the oldest and largest historically Black Pentecostal denominations in the United States. This male-headed church only functions through the work of the church’s women, who, despite making up three-quarters of its adult membership, hold no formal positions of power. Casselberry shows how the women negotiate this contradiction by using their work to produce and claim a spiritual authority that provides them with a particular form of power. She also emphasizes how their work in the church is as significant, labor intensive, and critical to their personhood, family, and community as their careers, home and family work, and community service are. Focusing on the circumstances of producing a holy black female personhood, Casselberry reveals the ways twenty-first-century women’s spiritual power operates and resonates with meaning in Pentecostal, female-majority, male-led churches.

Agadjanian (ed), “Armenian Christianity Today”

Agadjanian, Alexander.  2014.  Armenia Christianity Today: Identity Politics and Popular Practice.  New York: Routledge. 

Publisher’s Description: Armenian Christianity Today examines contemporary religious life and the social, political, and cultural functions of religion in the post-Soviet Republic of Armenia and in the Armenian Diaspora worldwide. Scholars from a range of countries and disciplines explore current trends and everyday religiosity, particularly within the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC), and amongst Armenian Catholics, Protestants and vernacular religions. Themes examined include: Armenian grass-roots religiosity; the changing forms of regular worship and devotion; various types of congregational life; and the dynamics of social composition of both the clergy and lay believers. Exploring through the lens of Armenia, this book considers wider implications of ’postsecular’ trends in the role of global religion.

Bialecki, “Apostolic Networks”

Bialecki, Jon. 2016. Apostolic Networks in the Third Wave of the Spirit: John Wimber and the Vineyard. Pneuma 38(1-2): 23-32. 

Abstract: This essay discusses the relationship between the Vineyard and the various other apostolic networks. By comparing the Vineyard with C. Peter Wagner and the New Apostolic Revival, I contend that the chief difference between these two movements lies in a Vineyard interest in pedagogy over a New Apostolic Revival interest in governance, and in the Vineyard’s use of the figure of John Wimber as an exemplar for practice rather than as a figure of authority.

Casselberry, “The Politics of Righteousness”

Casselberry, Judith.  2013.  The Politics of Righteousness: Race and Gender in Apostolic Pentecostalism.  Transforming Anthropology 21(1): 72-86.

Excerpt: The contours of Apostolic women’s negotiations of intraracial gender politics, majority status, and the requirement that they submit to male polity within COOLJC may be better understood by examining various intersecting sites of religious, raced, and gendered experience and expression, specifically the ways women understand themselves as holy Black women in divergent contexts. This article examines three such sites: first, the church founder’s Black cultural consciousness and “vindicationist” theology, which centers women in the Black religious experience; second, the church community’s adherence to mainstream Black traditions of struggle for full societal inclusion; and third, an interpretive gap in tenets of submission, fostered by the intersection of female spiritual authority and race politics, which translates into practices of what I term “leading from the background” and “acceptable disobedience” in intra-racial gender negotiations.  This article teases out Black Apostolic women’s lived experiences and expressions in differing contexts to highlight the methods employed as they navigate apparent contradictions and negotiate real conflicts at the intersections of religion, race, and gender. Interrogating these particularities shows that religion, race, and gender are co-constituted categories of identity and, “are always already inextricably linked…[and] wholly dependent on each other for their social existence and symbolic meanings” (Goldschmidt 2004: 7). Self-identification as “Black holy women” shapes, and is shaped by, the areas they identify as oppressive or empowering, as well as the ways they develop resistant, complicit, and assertive strategies for righteous living within the church community, in their professional lives, and homes. Black Apostolic women move through the world wrapped in the legacy of Black political culture while “wearing the breastplate of righteousness.

Lynn et. al., “Glossolalia is associated with differences in biomarkers of stress and arousal among Apostolic Pentecostals”

Lynn, Chrisopher Dana,  Jason Paris, Cheryl Anne Frye, and  Lawrence Schell (2011) “Glossolalia is associated with differences in biomarkers of stress and arousal among Apostolic Pentecostals.”  Religion, Brain & Behavior, pagination and volume not available [electronic prepublication release].

Abstract: The influence of glossolalia or ‘‘speaking in tongues’’ on biological stress and arousal is examined in a sample of Apostolic Pentecostals. Glossolalia is a form of dissociation considered by Pentecostals as possession by the Holy Spirit. Dissociation is a psychological term for partitioning of awareness and widely held to moderate stress, yet this has been difficult to affirm in culturally embedded situations. We sought to determine if glossolalic dissociation is associated with biomarkers of stress and arousal (salivary cortisol and alpha- amylase, respectively) on a religious service and a non-service day among 52 participants. We used mixed qualitative and quantitative methods to group participants as high- and low-glossolalists for preliminary comparisons and by status within their respective churches for regression analyses. Results indicate a significant influence of two glossolalia indicators on cortisol and alpha-amylase on both days, in addition to a statistically significant though not robust interaction effect between lifetime glossolalia experience and church status on the non-service day. Combined, these data suggest glossolalia experience is associated with increased physiological stress during worship and reduced stress and arousal beyond the worship context.

Werbner, “Holy Hustlers, Schism, and Prophecy”

Werbner, Richard (2011) Holy Hustlers, Schism, and Prophecy: Apostolic Reformation in Botswana. Berkeley, UC Press.

Publisher’s Description: This book examines the charismatic Christian reformation presently underway in Botswana’s time of AIDS and the moral crisis that divides the church between the elders and the young, apostolic faith healers. Richard Werbner focuses on Eloyi, an Apostolic faith-healing church in Botswana’s capital. Werbner shows how charismatic “prophets”–holy hustlers–diagnose, hustle, and shock patients during violent and destructive exorcisms. He also shows how these healers enter into prayer and meditation and take on their patients’ pain and how their ecstatic devotions create an aesthetic in which beauty beckons God. Werbner challenges theoretical assumptions about mimesis and empathy, the power of the word, and personhood. With its accompanying DVD, Holy Hustlers, Schism, and Prophecy integrates textual and filmed ethnography and provides a fresh perspective on ritual performance and the cinematic.

Klaits “Asking as Giving”

Klaits, Frederick (2011) “Asking as Giving: Apostolic Prayers and the Aesthetics of Well-Being in Botswana” Journal of Religion in Africa 41(2):206-226

Abstract: Drawing on an ethnographic description of hymns, prayers, and requests for material goods among Apostolic Christians in Botswana, this article considers how styles of asking bring aspects of the person to the attention of divine and human others. Apostolic believers regard personal well-being under circumstances of vulnerability as hinging in part on styles of prayer and asking, which entail forms of both self-assertion and engagement with the personhood of others. Experiences of vulnerability compel Apostolics’ awareness of how partible aspects of their persons, including the voice, move among them so as ideally to build up well-being. Thus prayers to God as the ultimate source of well-being frame persons in aesthetic terms so that they may be well apprehended by divine and human others. In light of Mauss’s theory of the gift, the article considers how verbal requests can foster well-being by conveying aspects of the person to divine and human hearers in ways that assert personal standing while sustaining moral consideration. An avenue is presented for comparative inquiry into the ways in which asking opens spaces of agency and obligation in religious and humanitarian discourses.

Werbner, “The Charismatic Dividual and the Sacred Self”

Werbner, Richard (2011) “The Charismatic Dividual and the Sacred Self” Journal of Religion in Africa 41(2):180-205

Abstract: The notion of `a break with the past’ foregrounds the individual as the new person reborn in Christian churches. Against that, across southern Africa Apostolic churches still face moral and metaphysical predicaments of the person being individual and, alternatively, dividual. The dividual is here taken to be someone who is composite or partible and permeated by others’ emotions and shared substances, including body dirt or sexual and other fluids. These personal predicaments are often experienced as dangerously unsettling—in need of careful spiritual regard, guidance and inspired remedy lest the person suffer ill-being, perhaps even occult harm. Dividuality opens the vulnerable person both to witchcraft attack (enemies may use organic bits for occult purposes, with malicious intent) and to pollution in contact with birth and death. In response, Apostolic church services constitute reformation. They reject indigenous tradition in forms of occult practice with charms and organic medicines—it is a sinful tradition, against God’s commandments and not Christian—but they do not deny the existence of witchcraft; nor do they start wholly afresh, even with the baptised. Apostolics find themselves earthly beings needing help and protection from God in heaven. As faithful Christians and hopeful of temporary relief, they confront the predicaments of alternative personhood within an ongoing war of good and evil. To get closer to God, if only vicariously, Apostolics turn to charismatic prophets as mediators through whom the Word of God can be heard, effectively and powerfully, and whose very bodies speak revealingly, in the gestures and postures of trance, to the needy condition of the faithful. Following a comparison with Catholic Charismatics in New England, this article addresses linguistic and phenomenological questions of Word, self and other with evidence from observed prophetic mediation by young men in séances of Eloyi, a transnational Apostolic church, and its offshoot church, Connolius, at Botswana’s capital. Included are issues of awesome narration, vicarious suffering, empathy with others, sacred cosmetics, and visionary realization.