Blood – A Critique of Christianity: Book Review

Anidjar, Gil. 2014. Blood: A Critique of Christianity. Religion, Culture, and Public Life. New York: Columbia University Press.

By: Sonja Luehrmann (Simon Fraser University)

I read most of this book in one of the contexts to which it speaks most deeply: during international air travel across North America, wondering how border guards and security officers might react if they were to inspect my bag and find a book whose title signalled a critical interrogation of Christianity combined with the idea of (shedding) blood. Over the winter of 2014/15, media commentary on terror attacks in Ottawa, Sydney, and Paris kept the question of the connection between religion and bloodshed on everyone’s mind, but it was Islam whose propensity for violence and potential for peace was under interrogation. As Gil Anidjar’s previous books remind us (2003; 2007), this intense dissection of Islam for violent properties is part of a long history of suspicion by western (post)Christians against significant religious others, from the blood libel – the myth that Jews slaughtered Christian children and used their blood in sinister rituals – to traditions of mocking the prophet Muhammad as a carnal and power-hungry impostor. In Blood, Anidjar turns the question around and examines Christianity for features that might explain such seemingly disparate violent histories as the Spanish inquisition, colonialism, the global spread of capitalism, and the war on terror.

Continue reading

Ganiel and Marti, “Northern Ireland, America and the Emerging Church Movement”

Ganiel, Gladys and Gerardo Marti, 2014. “Northern Ireland, America and the Emerging Church Movement.” Journal of the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions 1(1):26-47.

Abstract: The Emerging Church Movement (ECM) is a primarily Western religious phenomenon, identifiable by its critical ‘deconstruction’ of ‘modern’ religion. While most prominent in North America, especially the United States, some of the most significant contributors to the ECM ‘conversation’ have been the Belfast-based Ikon Collective and one of its founders, philosopher Peter Rollins. Their rootedness in the unique religious, political and social landscape of Northern Ireland in part explains their position on the ‘margins’ of the ECM, and provides many of the resources for their contributions. Ikon’s development of ‘transformance art’ and its ‘leaderless’ structure raise questions about the institutional viability of the wider ECM. Rollins’ ‘Pyrotheology’ project, grounded in his reading of post-modern philosophy, introduces more radical ideas to the ECM conversation. Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles’ and ‘marginal’ location provides the ground from which Rollins and Ikon have been able to expose the boundaries of the ECM and raise questions about just how far the ECM may go in its efforts to transform Western Christianity.

Bielo, “Belief, Deconversion, and Authenticity”

Bielo, James S. 2012. Belief, Deconversion, and Authenticity among U.S. Emerging Evangelicals. Ethos 40(3):258-276.

Abstract: In this article I examine the status of belief among U.S. evangelicals organizing under the moniker of the “emerging church.” As part of their cultural critique of the conservative Christian subculture, many emerging evangelicals recast their standpoint toward the role of propositional doctrine in their definition of an authentic Christian self. I join with colleagues in the anthropology of religion, in particular the anthropology of Christianity, who are rethinking the nature of belief as a form of relational commitment. I argue that emerging evangelicals seek a faith where human–human relationships are a precondition for human–divine relations to flourish. To achieve their desired sense of community emerging evangelicals create ritual structures that foster a highly relational religiosity. I illustrate this recasting of belief through analyses of narrative and institution making, grounded in three years of ethnographic fieldwork.