Abstract: Although Q’eqchi’-Maya Mainstream Catholics and Charismatic Catholics in the Guatemala highlands share many of the same physical and social spaces, the relationship between them is a tense one due to their differing modes of ritual practice. Although this conflict rarely comes to a head directly, on one particular occasion a highly ranked member of a Mainstream congregation, and indeed an outspoken critic of the Charismatics, entered the village chapel during the latter’s weekly service and proceeded openly to criticize their ritual practices, leaders’ religious knowledge, and relationship to the larger institutional Catholic Church. This article analyzes this event as a means of furthering our understanding of what happens when unexpected circumstances threaten the integrity of a religious group’s ritual. How do participants try to circumvent, mitigate or otherwise manage such an occurrence? Examining the spoken and embodied actions taken by both the speaker criticizing the congregation and his intended audience sheds light on the interactive strategies each used to manage their social and ethical standing during the uneasy interaction. This article draws critical attention to the way adherents to two related but distinct forms of Christianity establish and contest their modes of religious authority through language, discourse, and bodily behavior. By investigating an episode in which two modes of Christian practice came into direct confrontation with each other, we can better understand how differing ways of being Christian are dialogically constituted.
Summary: This thesis considers the world of Christian faith, as expressed by a particular social group of which I have been a part since 1998, as an alternative knowledge system. Focusing upon the lives of a number of key agents, including myself, I argue that at the heart of this knowledge system is a charismatic relationship, in the Weberian sense, with a divine Other. This relationship is freely entered into, is conceived as involving movement into or towards an embodied, experiential and relational knowledge of God, and is often expressed by participants through such metaphors as a ‘journey’, ‘adventure’ or ‘quest’. My original contribution to knowledge is in taking a sociological concept, Weber’s notion of the charismatic relation, and innovatively applying this framework to the relation between humans and a transcendent or disembodied ‘Other’. My work responds to a) recent ‘ontological’ challenges within anthropology to ‘take seriously’ other worlds, b) invitations to those with strong religious convictions to practise anthropology without feeling that they need to lose those convictions, and c) recent debates within the anthropology of Christianity concerning how to deal with the agential characteristics of non-human/spiritual beings within ethnographic work. Through a reflexive exploration of experience, I examine how certain Christian people constitute their lives, observing how charismatic devotion to a divine Other implies both a sensorium that extends beyond the corporeal senses, as well as the ‘planting’ of various conceptual seeds that, by providing concrete metaphors of what life is, shape the lives of those willing to ‘receive’ them. As social actors seek to maintain ‘openness’ to this divine Other, a transformational journey results, in which human perception and conception are continually open to renewal. As a reflexive ethnographic account from within such an alternative knowledge system, this thesis makes an original contribution to phenomenological and sensory studies, as well as contributing to anthropological work on Christianity.
Monnot, Christophe. 2016. “From the Pit to the Pulpit: Testimonies of Suffering in a Charismatic Community.” In Religious Diversity Today: Experiencing Religion in the Contemporary World. Edited by Liam D. Murphy, 23-42. Santa Barbara: Praeger.
Excerpt: “Charismatic Christianity is defined by supernatural gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophesying, healing, and other miracles. Among Swiss Protestants, non-Pentecostal evangelical churches have adopted these charismatic gifts. Believing in miracles, charismatic groups and congregations pray for all ill persons. They support the idea that the righteous are blessed with well-being and health. With this understanding, how can Christian charismatic believers speak about their suffering to religious peers? This study tries to answer that question through an analysis of four testimonies given during a charismatic worship service.”
Abstract: In contemporary South Africa the nuclear family, made up of a husband and wife with two or three children living in a suburban area, is considered a social ideal and symbol of social and economic success. In Pentecostal Charismatic Churches the nuclear family is also held up as a symbol of success and as a sign of spiritual favour and blessing. Yet many young professional women who are members of Pentecostal Charismatic Churches struggle to find suitable husbands and marry. This paper examines why these women encounter these difficulties and how the Pentecostal Charismatic Churches in this study are opening up new social spaces in which singleness is an acceptable social state. In so doing the paper shows the complex relationship between weddings, sexuality, and economics in the life of young upwardly mobile Pentecostal Charismatic Christians.
McGraw, John (2012) “Tongues of Men and Angels: Assessing the Neural Correlates of Glossolalia.” In David Cave & Rebecca Sachs Norris, eds. Religion and the Body: Modern Science and the Construction of Religious Meaning. Leiden: Brill.
First Paragraph: “The accelerating popularity of Charismatic Christianity has brought with it a host of new sensibilities and ritual practices. Glossolalia, or ‘speaking in tongues,’ stands out among these as a particularly dramatic innovation. Typically staid churchgoers, once touched by the Holy Spirit, begin to utter strings of syllables that some claim to be the ‘language of angels.’ Recent neuroimaging studies have highlighted differences in the brains of subjects performing glossolalia in comparison to those same subjects singing a Church hymn. An investigation of the neural correlates of glossolalia highlights the importance of studying the bodily dimensions of ritual practice. But an informed analysis does not reduce social and behavioral complexities to physiological changes; rather, juxtaposing the correlates of human action from a variety of perspectives—in this case the social, the bodily, and the behavioral—suggests productive new approaches to the study of ritual. Having received the attentions of numerous scholars during the 20th and 21st centuries, glossolalia provides an excellent test case for this correlational approach to human action . . .”
Ernst, Manfred. 2012. Changing Christianity in Oceania: a regional overview. Archives de sciences sociales des religions. 157(1):29-45.
Abstract: The article summarizes major changes in religious affiliation in Oceania since World War II and especially over the past 20 years by linking the increasing diversification of Christianity in the region to globalization processes and the impact of rapid social change on societies and individuals. Based on the presentation of data the author provides evidence that new forms of Christianity, mainly of pentecostal-charismatic origins, have experienced high growth rates at the expense of the established historic mainline churches. These developments mirror very much what has been observed in other parts of the southern hemisphere. Predictions are that in two or three decades from today Oceanic Christianity will have a distinguished pentecostal-charismatic flavour. The author predicts that without fundamental reflection and renewal the future perspectives for the historic mainline churches are gloomy. According to the author they seem to be ill prepared to face the manifold challenges in their societies at the beginning of the 21st century and may lose their unique dominant status they held over the past 150-200 years in the respective island nations.