Abstract: Beginning with nineteenth-century Indian curse rhetoric as a national jeremiad, and continuing into the twentieth century through Puritan-derived landscapes in fiction by Howard Philips Lovecraft and Jay Anson, Indian curses and accursed lands stand apart from other paranormal beliefs in the explicit voice they give to Euro-American anxieties over cultural authority. By imagining themselves as living in Indian terrains, accursed though they are, white Americans lay claim to the land, articulating an indigenized myth of national origin. Since the 1970s, neo-charismatic Protestants have taken a keen interest in Lovecraft-inspired religions and Indian curse lore, engaging in various deliverance ministries to exorcise individuals and landscapes, and to symbolically claim the nation for themselves.
Webster, Joseph. 2012. “The Immanence of Transcendence: God and the Devil on the Aberdeenshire Coast.” Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, DOI:10.1080/00141844.2012.688762 [first print – pagination, volume and issue not available].
Abstract: In Gamrie (a Scottish fishing village of 700 people and 6 Protestant churches), local experiences of ‘divine providence’ and ‘demonic attack’ abound. Bodily fluids, scraps of paper, video cassettes and prawn trawlers were immanent carriers of divine and demonic activity. Viewed through the lens of Weberian social theory, the experiences of Scottish fisher families show how the life of the Christian resembles an enchanted struggle between God and the Devil with the Christian placed awkwardly in-between. Because, locally, ‘there is no such thing as coincidence’, these Christians expected to experience both the transcendent ordering of life by divine providence through God’s immanence and the transcendent disordering of life by demonic attack through the Devil’s immanence. Where this ordering and disordering frequently occurred through everyday objects, seemingly mundane events – being given a washing machine or feeling sleepy in church – were experienced as material indexes of spiritual reality. Drawing on the work of Cannell (on transcendence), Keane (on indexicality) and Wagner (on symbolic obviation), this paper argues that attending to the materiality of Scottish Protestantism better equips the anthropology of religion to understand Christian experience by positing immanence as a kind of transcendence and transcendence as a kind of immanence.
Abstract: Neo-liberal globalization (also known as “millennial capitalism”) and the neo-Pentecostal-charismatic movement seem to be converging and spreading in the same areas of the globe. Against a backdrop of Pentecostal growth from its coalescence with indigenous shamanism in modern Korea, Presbyterian Elder and scientist Ki-Cheol Son, famous for his charismatic preaching and healing ministry, founded the Heavenly Touch Ministry (HTM) in Seoul in 2004. Unlike most Reformed Charismatics, he promotes the idea that God wants Christians to be successful, with special attention to financial prosperity. The success of HTM’s doctrines stressing deliverance/healing and blessings hinges on two interrelated sets of factors: first, HTM’s teachings, representing a collective aspiration within the contemporary Korean religious market, are effectively marketed by Elder Son, who has a keen perception of people’s need for miracles; and second, the teachings work in idioms (such as “Name-it-and-claim-it!”) that are familiar and accessible to a wide range of shamanistic middle-class believers struggling for financial success in the new economic climate. It seems to me that these sets of factors make identical claims, stated differently. HTM is a product of neo-liberal globalization, and its followers represent the neo-Pentecostal middle class in the global village. This paper elaborates this thesis with reference to observations at HTM’s deliverance meetings and newspaper interviews with Son.
Heuser, Andreas (2011) “‘Put on God’s Armour Now!’: the Embattled Body in African Pentecostal-type Christianity” in Sebastian Jobs and Gesa Mackenthun, eds., Embodiments of Cultural Encounters. Munster: Wasmann Verlag.
Excerpt: “Arjun Appadurai distinguishes “hard” from “soft” cultural forms by discussing processes of indigenization . . The argument that I have presented here is that the ‘theology of the embattled body’ in African Pentecostal-type Christianity has developed in to such a “hard cultural form.” . . .Pneumatology, the central theological dimension in African Pentecostal-style Christianity, reviles around the twin formula of an enacted demonology and an elaborated devil complex. . . As a hard cultural form, with all its moral, spiritual, and ritual virtues, the theology of the embattled body resist reinterpretation. In few of the gendered body politics in African Pentecostal-type churches, it changes those who are socialized in it more readily than it permits transformation of the established texture of the devil complex. . . “