Abstract: This paper explores the story of the formation and subsequent activities of a church women’s group in Maisin villages and women’s experiences of Christianity more broadly, in relation to the changing production and uses of traditional bark cloth (tapa), a signature women’s product which has become a marker of Maisin identity. While the influence of the local Mothers’ Union has waxed and waned over the past 60 years, tapa cloth has had a continuing influence upon its fortunes. Tapa cloth has been the chief means for church women to raise funds to support their activities and the local church. However, we argue that, more fundamentally, tapa has shaped women’s gendered Christian identities, experiences and history, mediating relationships with men, between generations of women, and with various sorts of ‘missionaries’ who have often justified their intrusions in terms of improving women’s lives.
Publisher’s Description: Bourdieu in Africa: Exploring the Dynamics of Religious Fields offers a view of religions as social games played by interested actors. Analyzing practices as strategic moves, this critical approach conceptualizes the religious field as relations of exchange and competition between experts and laity, and explores how the actors’ habitus, including religious beliefs, serve to misrecognize and thus legitimize relations of power within the religious sphere and beyond.
The authors discuss the volatile religious fields of Nigeria, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and South Africa, with their variably configured tensions between African traditions, Christianity and Islam, but also consider the interrelations of religion with other social fields, with politics, economy, education and law.
Abstract: This paper traces the development of energy policy in the mainline churches beginning with Margaret Mead and René Dubos’s 1974 commission to prepare a report to the National Council of Churches on the use of plutonium as a commercial fuel. The report stirred a controversy and a broader examination of energy ethics that culminated in the adoption in 1979 of a National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. policy paper and encouraged constituent denominations to make their own studies of energy policy. The development and implementation of these policies is followed from 1980 to the present, using the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as a representative mainline denomination. This turn to ethical reasoning to support change in U.S. energy policy is a hopeful development, given the stalemate in such discussion when framed in scientific or political terms.
Abstract:Do local church organists form communities? As ritual specialists, church organists have long played an indispensible role in facilitating North American and European Christian worship. Despite the diverse musical practices of Christianity, most mainline Protestant Sunday morning organ music falls within a relatively narrow range of repertoire and performance practice. Such musical continuity implies a level of communication between organists. Yet, since most organists work similar hours on Sunday mornings, they only infrequently observe each other during services. What explains the musical similarities? Do organists share educational backgrounds and sources of repertoire? How does musical information travel between organists? How does the contemporary reconfiguration of mainline Christianity impact organists’ sense of community? In this paper, I explore these issues through one basic question: do local organists form a musical community?
Abstract: The organizational niche, a fruitful concept from the organizational ecology literature, frames this study on the diverse orthodoxy of congregations within the same denomination. Congregations diversify along a conservative-to-liberal continuum, which lessens niche overlap with nearby congregations in their denomination. Pastors and priests in United Methodist and Episcopal congregations in three U.S. regions were able to locate their congregations (and other congregations in their denomination in close proximity) along this conservative-to-liberal continuum, an indication that orthodoxy distinctions were important to congregational identity. In comparison, Assemblies of God congregations showed little intradenominational diversity in orthodoxy, since sectarian boundaries narrow their niche. Theoretical and methodological implications of this intradenominational diversity are explored.