Timmer, “The All Peoples Prayer Assembly in Solomon Islands”

Timmer, Jaap.  2015.  The All Peoples Prayer Assembly in Solomon Islands.  Nova Religio 18(4): 16-34.

Abstract: The notion that forebears of Solomon Islanders might be descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel is widespread among To’abaita speakers in North Malaita, and it features in a particular way in the theology of the popular All Peoples Prayer Assembly (APPA), also known as the Deep Sea Canoe Movement. Prominent in this boast of an Israelite genealogy is a utopian fantasy of a just “Israel” grounded in the ancestral soil of the island of Malaita. This article describes the APPA worldview as an alternative modernity that is meaningful to the To’abaitans because it provides a new sense of self and a shared destiny. Although APPA’s theology relates to the people’s socio-economic concerns, it reveals more clearly the continuity of some key cultural models through changing global influences, local histories and cultural dynamics.

Liebelt, “Mama Mary”

Liebelt, Claudia. 2014. The “Mama Mary” of the White City’s Underside: Reflections on a Filipina Domestic Workers’ Block Rosary in Tel Aviv, Israel. In Migrant Domestic Workers in the Middle East: The Home and the World, edited by Bina Fernandez and Marina de Regt.  Pp: 95-116. New York: Palgrave. 

Excerpt: Each Friday, a loose network of Catholic migrant domestic workers, almost exclusively women from the Philippines, carries a figure of the Virgin Mary through the marginalized neighborhoods of southern Tel Aviv, Israel. As the figure is carried from one participant’s home to another of this so-called block rosary, they believe “she” (the Virgin Mary) blesses these homes and the surrounding neighborhood, hears hundreds of the women’s petitions, creates a community of devotees, and performs miracles. Against the backdrop of the troubled neighborhood’s Friday night life and the turbulence of the devotees’ own lives, “Mama Mary,” as she is tenderly addressed, has come to stand for compassion, refuge, and protection. This chapter seeks to describe and analyze domestic workers’ Marian devotion in a complex Middle Eastern locale. In doing so, this chapter contributes to the literature on diaspora, gender, and religion and investigates ritual performance and processes of homemaking in the context of female migrants’ diasporic journeys and a gendered global economy based on the international division and feminization of labor, especially in the field of reproduction and care.

Feldman and Young, eds. “Pilgrimage to the Holy Lands”

Religion and Society: Advances in Research, volume 5, 2014, features an edited collection on “Pilgrimage to the Holy Lands” edited by Jackie Feldman and Donna Young.

Introduction: Contested Narratives of Storied Places – the Holy Lands
Jackie Feldman

Guiding Settler Jerusalem: Voice and the Transpositions of History in Religious Zionist Pilgrimage
Alejandro I. Paz

Changing Colors of Money: Tips, Commissions and Ritual in Christian Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
Jackie Feldman

Age of Innocence: The Symbolic Child and Political Conflict on American Holy Land Pilgrimage
Hillary Kaell

‘The Empty Tomb’ as Metaphor: Finding Comfort in Nothingness
Donna Young

The Accidental Pilgrim: Olive Pickers in Palestine
Anne Meneley

Afterword
Ellen Badone

Gunner and Smith, eds. ‘Comprehending Christian Zionism’

Gunner, Goran and Robert O. Smith, eds. 2014. Comprehending Christian Zionism: Perspectives in Comparison. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. 

Publisher’s Description: The issue of Christian Zionism is one that is fiercely debated within theology, the church, politics, and society. Comprehending Christian Zionism brings together an international consortium of scholars and researchers to reflect on the network of issues and topics surrounding this critical subject. The volume provides a lens on the history of Zionism within Christian theology and offers a constructive, multidimensional path for assessment and introspection around the meaning of Zionism to Christian faith and practice.

Contents:

1. Christian Zionism in Contemporary Perspective—Göran Gunner
2. Saying ‘Peace’ When There is No Peace—Elizabeth Phillips
3. “A fool for Christ”—Aron Engberg
4. Broadcasting Jesus’ Return—Matt Westbrook
5. Walking in the Mantle of Esther: “Political” Action as “Religious” Practice—Sean Durbin
6. Christian Zionism at Jerusalem Church in Copán Ruinas, Honduras, an “Out-of-the-Way” Place—William Girard
7. Christian Zionist Pilgrimage in the Twenty-First Century—Curtis Hutt
8. Living in the Hour of Restoration—Faydra L. Shapiro
9. Christian Zionism and Main Line Western Christian Churches—Rosemary Radford Ruether
10. Palestinian Christian Reflections on Christian Zionism—Mitri Raheb
11. From the Institutum Judaicum to the International Christian Embassy—Yaakov Ariel
12. Mischief Making in Palestine—Mae Elise Cannon
13. Israelis, Israelites, and God’s Hand in History—Timo R. Stewart
14. The Rise of Hitler, Zion, and the Tribulation—Gershon Greenberg
15. Inverting the Eagle to Embrace the Star of David—George Faithful
16. Conclusion—Robert O. Smith

Walking Where Jesus Walked: Book Review

Kaell, Hillary. 2014. Walking Where Jesus Walked: American Christians and Holy Land Pilgrimage. New York: NYU Press.

By: Jackie Feldman (Ben Gurion University)

“On each trip, certain interpenetrations are articulated and shaped by group leaders, Many, however, are not. At the back of the bus, pilgrims make the experience meaningful in ways that guides and tour operators may not expect and cannot predict. Pilgrims keep these deeply felt connections to themselves, and they color each trip in very personal ways.” (Kaell 2014: 80)

Although I have been working with American Holy Land pilgrims for over three decades, both as anthropologist and as tour guide, Hillary Kaell’s book surprised me. The perspective she has chosen – accompanying and talking with women before, during and after the voyage – places the voyage within a longue durée that was invisible to me as tour guide, and only partially visible as researcher. Rather than privilege the narratives spoken into bus microphones by guides and pastors/priests, Kaell places her microphone with the woman in the back, who rarely expresses her desires or thoughts in public on the tour. This perspective is a useful corrective to scholars who focus on ecclesiastical guidelines, sermons, recited public prayers, guides’ explanations, and the goals made explicit by the pilgrim/tour industry or the pastors who organize and lead groups. Kaell’s concentration on the lived experience of 50-75 year-old Catholic and evangelical American women traveling to the Holy Land demonstrates how the geographical, political or even biblical context of the sites and routes of the Holy Land may serve as the background for an intensely personal trajectory. This personal path is a continuation of the home lives of ‘middle-old’ aged women, who make up a major portion of Holy Land pilgrims. Without ignoring denominational distinctions, Kaell reminds us that the pilgrimage experience is rooted in profoundly American, (mainly) middle-class values that cut across traditional religious lines. Continue reading

Kaell, “Walking Where Jesus Walked: American Christians and Holy Land Pilgrimage”

Kaell, Hillary. 2014. Walking Where Jesus Walked: American Christians and Holy Land Pilgrimage. New York: New York University Press. 

Publisher’s Description: Since the 1950s, millions of American Christians have traveled to the Holy Land to visit places in Israel and the Palestinian territories associated with Jesus’s life and death. Why do these pilgrims choose to journey halfway around the world? How do they react to what they encounter, and how do they understand the trip upon return? This book places the answers to these questions into the context of broad historical trends, analyzing how the growth of mass-market evangelical and Catholic pilgrimage relates to changes in American Christian theology and culture over the last sixty years, including shifts in Jewish-Christian relations, the growth of small group spirituality, and the development of a Christian leisure industry.

Drawing on five years of research with pilgrims before, during and after their trips, Walking Where Jesus Walked offers a lived religion approach that explores the trip’s hybrid nature for pilgrims themselves: both ordinary—tied to their everyday role as the family’s ritual specialists, and extraordinary—since they leave home in a dramatic way, often for the first time. Their experiences illuminate key tensions in contemporary US Christianity between material evidence and transcendent divinity, commoditization and religious authority, domestic relationships and global experience.

Hillary Kaell crafts the first in-depth study of the cultural and religious significance of American Holy Land pilgrimage after 1948. The result sheds light on how Christian pilgrims, especially women, make sense of their experience in Israel-Palestine, offering an important complement to top-down approaches in studies of Christian Zionism and foreign policy.

Durbin, “‘I will bless those who bless you'”

Durbin, Sean.  2013.  “I will bless those who bless you:” Christian Zionism, Fetishism, and Unleashing the Blessings of God.  Journal of Contemporary Religion 28(3): 507-521.

Abstract: This article focuses on the concept of ‘blessing’ Israel that has become common among contemporary American Christian Zionists. After introducing a theological scheme that has dominated discussions of contemporary Christian Zionism, the article critically examines one of the emerging narratives concerning the (re)discovery of Christian Zionists’ Jewish roots and the way the Jewish contribution to Christianity is framed. Following this, the article considers the way Israel and Jews are understood to hold a distinct place in the network of world redemption and how contemporary Israel acts as a marker—what is referred to as a ‘signifier of stability’—that helps Christian Zionists locate God’s ongoing work in the world. Finally, the article discusses how Christian Zionists ‘bless’ Israel in practical ways as a form of submission to God, a reminder of their relationship with God, and a way to locate themselves in the redemptive process.

Kaell, “Trash Talk: US Pilgrims in Israel-Palestine”

Kaell, Hillary (2012) “Trash Talk: US Pilgrims in Israel-Palestine.” Anthropology News 53(8):12-13.

Opening Paragraph: “Each year nearly 300,000 US Christians walk where Jesus walked,’ traveling halfway around the world to visit biblical sites in Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). As they tread hallowed ground, gaze from bus windows, and snap photos at panoramic lookouts, these pilgrims notice trash: litter, abandoned cars, unkempt houses. Garbage is always present at idealized sites, of course, but most tourists overlook it (Urry, 2002). In the Holy Land, however, it is too symbolically resonant to ignore. In fact, ‘trash talk’ serves a crucial role in the trip’s discourse. It offers US pilgrims a way to speak in a moral register about Israelis and Palestinians without engaging regional politics directly, which most try hard to avoid.”

Durbin, “For Such a Time as This”

Durbin, Sean. 2012. “For Such a Time as This”: Reading (and Becoming) Esther with Christians United for Israel.

Abstract: A great deal of work on contemporary Christian Zionism focuses on the apocalyptic eschatology of premillennial dispensationalism, critiquing it from an idealistic perspective that posits a direct line of causality from “belief” to action. Such critiques frequently assert that since Christian Zionists are biblical literalists, they read apocalyptic texts such as Revelation and Ezekiel with the goal of making the events they find predicted in these books come about in the world. This article takes a different approach. Although many Christian Zionists can be considered “literalists,” they read themselves into the text typologically. Special attention is paid to the book of Esther which is shown not to function primarily in a prophetic or apocalyptic role, but as a tool to help Christian Zionists understand political action, construct identity, and strengthen faith.

Feldman, “Abraham the Settler, Jesus the Refugee”

Feldman, Jackie. 2011. Abraham the Settler, Jesus the Refugee: Contemporary Conflict and Christianity on the Road to Bethlehem. History & Memory 23(1): 62-95.

Abstract: By examining tour brochures, practices of landscape display, posters and tour guiding narrations, I seek to understand how Bethlehem and the “separation wall” between Jerusalem and Bethlehem are integrated into the experience of Western Christian pilgrims of a variety of theological orientations. I argue that current practices of display and narration promote particular political views of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, and lend them authority by saturating them with particular Christian meanings and associations. The study contributes to our understanding of pilgrimage as a site of contested discourses in which local actors sacralize the landscape while making their understandings of the conflict seem self-evident and divinely justified.