Matsuzato & Danielyan, “Faith or Tradition”

Matsuzato, Kimitaka, and Stepan Danielyan. 2013. Faith or Tradition: The Armenian Apostolic Church and Community-Building in Armenia and Nagorny-Karabakh. Religion, State and Society 41(1) pp. 18-34

Abstract: It is no secret that the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC) is closely connected with Armenian nationality and Armenian states (Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh). Previous studies have concentrated on surveying the privileges granted to it by these Armenian states. This study goes further by elucidating complementary relations between the AAC and these states in community-building. These states are suffering from the incompetence of local governments created by radical municipal reforms and the decollectivisation of agriculture during the 1990s. They need the help of the AAC, which is potentially able to mobilise rural intellectuals via church (parish) councils. The AAC wishes to reinforce its position, which it sees as endangered by various ‘sectarian’ challenges. Its weak appeal to faith (insufficient evangelisation) gives Protestant ‘sectarians’ abundant room for proselytism, against which the AAC intends to struggle ‘from below’ by its deeper involvement in community-building.

Naumescu, “Learning the ‘Science of Feelings'”

Naumescu, Vlad. 2012. Learning the ‘Science of Feelings’: Religious Training in Eastern Christian Monasticism. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, Volume 77: Issue 2. Special Issue: Learning Possession

Abstract:

In Eastern Christianity novitiate is a period of learning to experience the presence of God in one’s life and the world. Novices follow the hesychast prayer, a mystical tradition that leads them to an experiential knowledge of God. In this paper, I argue that novitiate should be regarded as a complex learning process involving specific assemblages of contextual, cognitive, body-sensory and emotional aspects. By educating their attention and emotion novices learn to see beyond and within reality and thus discover the potentiality of people and things ‘in the likeness of God’. Religious transmission happens not only through embodied practice and the active acquisition of religious knowledge but, more importantly, through the work of the imagination. Novices’ orientation towards the transcendent requires an expansion of the imaginative capacities beyond their ‘routine’ functioning. Imagination could be thus seen as a key cognitive capacity through which they learn to experience God.

Naumescu, “Old Believers’ Passion Play”

Naumescu, Vlad. 2013. Old Believers’ Passion Play: The Meaning of Doubt in an Orthodox Ritualist Movement. In Ethnographies of Doubt: Faith and Certainty in Contemporary Societies, ed. Mathijs Pelkmans. New York: Palgrave, 85-118.

Volume Description: Religious and secular convictions have powerful effects, but their foundations are often surprisingly fragile. New converts often come across as stringent believers precisely because they need to dispel their own lingering doubts, while revolutionary movements survive only through the denial of ambiguity. This book shows that a focus on uncertainty and doubt is indispensable for grasping the role of ideas in social action. Drawing on a wide range of cases, from spirit mediums in Taiwan to Maoist revolutionaries in India, from right-wing populists in Europe to converts to Pentecostalism in Central Asia, the authors analyse the ways in which doubt is overcome and, conversely, how belief-systems collapse. In doing so, Ethnographies of Doubt provides important insights into the cycles of faith, hope, conviction and disillusion that are intrinsic to the human condition.

Kostarelos, “Short-Term Missions in the Orthodox Church”

Kostarelos, Frances. 2013. Short-Term Missions in the Orthodox Church in North America. Missiology 41(2):179-186.

Abstract: This article examines beliefs, institutions, and social changes shaping short-term missions in the Orthodox Church. It directs attention to key theological principles guiding short-term missions. The article provides a descriptive account of short-term mission activity informed by Orthodox perspective. It frames questions to guide future study of short-term missions in the Orthodox Church.

Leichtman, “From the Cross”

Leichtman, Mara A. 2013. From the Cross (and Crescent) to the Cedar and Back Again: Transnational religion and politics among Lebanese Christians in Senegal. Anthropological Quarterly 86(1):35-75.

Abstract: This article examines the changing relationship between religion, secularism, national politics, and identity formation among Lebanese Christians in Senegal. Notre Dame du Liban, the first Lebanese religious institution in West Africa, draws on its Lebanese “national” character to accommodate Lebanese Maronite Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christians in Dakar, remaining an icon of “Lebanese” religion, yet departing from religious sectarianism in Lebanon. As such, transnational religion can vary from national religion, gaining new resonances and reinforcing a wider “secular” ethno-national identity.

Zigon, “On Love”

Zigon, Jarrett. 2013. On Love: Remaking Moral Subjectivity in Post-rehabilitation Russia. American Ethnologist 40(1):201-215.

Abstract: Love, I argue, is a demand around which moral experience—and thus moral subjectivity—takes shape. Love entails the struggle to ethically remake oneself, and the response to its unavoidable demand has consequences for both oneself and others. I examine the moral experience of love as it was lived by two former participants in a Russian Orthodox Church–run heroin rehabilitation program in St. Petersburg. My discussion thus contributes conceptually and ethnographically to the growing literature on the anthropology of moralities.

Bandak, “Problems of Belief: Tonalities of Immediacy among Christians of Damascus”

Bandak, Andreas. 2012. Problems of Belief: Tonalities of Immediacy among Christians of Damascus. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 77(4):535-555.

Abstract

This article examines the different effects Christianity has among Christians of Damascus. Instead of focusing on devout subjects, I trace out the ramifications Christianity has in different settings. Christianity sets different kinds of foregrounds and backgrounds which in this article are attended to during the Feast of the Holy Cross. During this Christian feast, a great variety of themes are brought into play with different kinds of relations to what it is to be a Christian in Damascus. I argue that what I term tonalities of immediacy is a fertile way to understand how contingencies and histories are played upon in concrete situations. The problem of belief, I argue, is not settled by pointing to a particular Christian and Western heritage or to default reactions against imagined certainties; rather the interplay between faith and scepticism may be a productive lens through which to grasp local Christian concerns.

Shenoda, “The Politics of Faith: On Faith, Skepticism, and Miracles among Coptic Christians in Egypt”

Shenoda, Anthony. 2012. The Politics of Faith: On Faith, Skepticism, and Miracles among Coptic Christians in Egypt. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 77(4):477-495.

Abstract

The relationship of faith and skepticism has rarely been discussed by anthropologists. Drawing on ethnographic work among Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt, this article explores this relationship, particularly through the lens of the miraculous. By focusing on what might be at stake in Coptic miraculous tales that address Coptic Church-State relations as well as Muslim-Christian sectarian tensions, this article pushes for an analysis of faith and skepticism that sees them as products of social relationships. An emphasis is placed on skepticism not as opposing faith, but as potentially cultivating it, especially when that skepticism is of the Muslim Other. I conclude by suggesting that if socio-political miracles often say something about the narrator’s piety, they are also stories that highlight a commitment to persecution as central to Christian faith while simultaneously offering joy and empowerment to the Copts that recount and listen to them

Roudometof, “The Glocalisations of Eastern Orthodox Christianity”

Roudometof, Victor (2012) “The Glocalisations of Eastern Orthodox Christianity.” European Journal of Social Theory.  ISSUE AND VOLUME NOT AVAILABLE, ONLINE PREPUBLICATION.

Abstract: This article introduces the notion of multiple glocalizations as a means of analysing Christianity’s historical record and argues that multiple glocalizations are constitutive of the intertwining between religion and historical globalization. It proposes that four concrete forms of glocalization can be observed: vernacularization, indigenization, nationalization and transnationalization. Each of these offers different combinations of universal religiosity and local particularism. The salience of this interpretation is demonstrated through a cursory analysis of the historical record of Christianity’s fragmentation. It is argued that the very construction of distinct religious traditions (Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism) is an expression of this broader process. Finally, the historical record of Eastern Orthodox Christianity is examined in order to provide for additional historical instances of these forms of glocalization.

Lofstedt, “Religious Revival among Orthodox and Pentecostals in Russia”

Lofstedt, Torsten. 2012. Religious Revival among Orthodox and Pentecostals in Russia: causes and limitations. Religion, State, and Society 40(1):92-111.

Abstract: In Russia in the late 1980s and early 1990s churches and denominations of all kinds grew quickly. Among those that grew most quickly were the Pentecostals. My impression is that by the mid-1990s, however, the growth rate for the leading Pentecostal denominations had slowed down considerably. In this paper I try to ascertain whether this in fact is the case and if so, what the causes for the slowdown in growth might have been. Because denominations have been reticent in sharing official membership statistics, I have looked for evidence of denominational growth rates in other places and have found evidence for a slowdown. I have then sought to explain the end of the revival among the Pentecostals. I find that the weakening of the Pentecostal churches is coupled with the strengthening of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russian society. The Orthodox Church has come to serve as an ethnic marker and it has successfully persuaded its adherents that non-Orthodox forms of Christianity are foreign sects. While I present little new empirical material, I ask new questions of the material available which help explain the slowdown in church growth among Russian Pentecostals.