Haynes, “Why can’t a pastor be president of a ‘Christian Nation’?”

Haynes, Naomi. 2018. Why can’t a pastor be president of a “Christian Nation”? Pentecostal Politics as Religious Mediation. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review. 41(1): 60-74.

Why has Nevers Mumba, one of Zambia’s most famous Pentecostal leaders, been so unsuccessful in his two presidential bids? Previous analyses have blamed Mumba’s political woes on a presumed Pentecostal belief that politics is a lesser vocation than the pastorate. In contrast to these interpretations, I argue that Pentecostals in Zambia are very committed to the notion that, at least ideally, their leaders should be pastors, and more specifically that they should be effective mediators of the divine covenant established when Zambia was declared a “Christian nation.” The problem with Mumba is, therefore, not that pastors are not supposed to be politicians, but rather that he has failed to convince believers that he is a good mediator. This article opens up new horizons in the study of Pentecostal politics, suggesting that populism in countries with high Pentecostal populations is increasingly defined by the capacity for religious mediation.

 

Cantón-Delgado, Manuela, “Gypsy leadership, cohesion and social memory”

Cantón-Delgado, Manuela.  2017. Gypsy leadership, cohesion and social memory in the Evangelical Church of Philadelphia.  Social Compass.  Early online publication. 

Abstract: Nowadays, although throughout Europe the Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim and Protestant denominational identities remain among Roma, the conversion rate would suggest the number of Roma Pentecostal will have numerically overtaken all the others in just a few years’ time. The uniqueness of Spanish Gypsy Pentecostalism contradicts some of the stereotypes of global Pentecostalism and resides in its organisational complexity and hierarchical structure, its rapid institutionalisation as a sole church, the thorough theological training of its leaders, and its autonomy both from the State and from the European and Latin American Pentecostal Roma Movement. This article is structured around a life history and two concerns: (a) the role of the constant circulation of the gypsy evangelical ministers as regards charisma and leadership; (b) the growing transfer of prestige from the respected gypsy elders to the young evangelical pastors and their role in wide pacification processes involving ethnic cohesion and kinship.

Jennings, “Great Risk for the Kingdom”

Jennings, Mark Alan Charles.  2017. Great Risk for the Kingdom: Pentecostal-Charismatic Growth Churches, Pastorpreneurs, and Neoliberalism.  In, Multiculturalism and the Convergence of Faith and Practical Wisdom in Modern Society, Ana-Maria Pascal, ed.  Pp. 236-249.

Abstract: Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity (“PCC”) has successfully navigated the challenges modernity poses to religion, growing rapidly in the twentieth century. Toward the end of the twentieth century, however, neoliberalism began its ascent to its current hegemonic status. Neoliberalism reconfigures social institutions as marketized practices with a measurable ‘payoff’. PCC adapted to this challenge in the form of a “growth churches,” adopting many of the characteristics of neoliberalism. In adopting a homogenous model and method of ‘best practice’ in order to facilitate growth; offering a ‘prosperity’ theology that fits well with the development of human capital; and endorsing the universalization of risk through modelling “pastorpreneur” leadership, it is argued in this chapter that growth churches are a paradigmatic example of a late modern religious phenomenon accommodating neoliberalism in a largely uncritical manner. The chapter concludes with some observations that critique this association between neoliberalism and growth churches.

Lauterbach, “Christianity, Wealth, and Spiritual Power”

Lauterbach, Karen.  2017.  Christianity, Wealth, and Spiritual Power in Ghana.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Publisher’s Description: This book centers around mid-level charismatic pastors in Ghana. Karen Lauterbach analyzes pastorship as a pathway to becoming small “big men” and achieving status, wealth, and power in the country. The volume investigates both the social processes of becoming a pastor and the spiritual dimensions of how power and wealth are conceptualized, achieved, and legitimized in the particular context of Asante in Ghana. Lauterbach integrates her analysis of charismatic Christianity with a historically informed examination of social mobility—how people in subordinate positions seek to join up with power. She explores how the ideas and experiences surrounding the achievement of wealth and performance of power are shaped and re-shaped. In this way, the book historicizes current expressions of charismatic Christianity in Ghana while also bringing the role of religion and belief to bear on our understanding of wealth and power as they function more broadly in African societies.

Yidana, “From Divine Word to Divine Wealth”

Yidana, Adadow.  2014. From Divine Word to Divine Wealth: Sociological Analysis of the Developmental Phases of Pentecostal Churches in Ghana.  Asian Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences 2(2): 346-354.

Abstract: There is an ongoing debate regarding the proliferation of Pentecostal churches in Africa and Ghana in particular. Consequently, Pentecostal denominations are seen as routes through which people gain fame and make wealth. Using a data collection in Ghana in the city of Tamale between July and December 2013, this paper provides an analysis of the different developmental phases of Pentecostal churches in Ghana. The results points to an increasing numbers of Pentecostal churches in Ghana. This increased is partly due to the increasing number of educated elites who have taken advantage of the economic potential in establishing Pentecostal churches. The paper reveals that the real intention of almost all pastors who have planted their churches is to see it grow to become a mega church or reaching a true entrepreneurial stage. The paper further reveals that it is not just a one stop journey, but has to pass through stages before achieving the self fulfilling stage. The paper thus concludes that in as long as the industry remains lucrative, a number of educated elites will join the vacation.

Kaufman, “A Plea for Ethnographic Methods”

Kaufman, Tone Stangeland.  2014.  “A Plea for Ethnographic Methods and a Spirituality of Everyday Life in the Study of Christian Spirituality: A Norwegian Case of Clergy Spirituality.” Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality 14(1): 94-102.

Excerpt: What counts as “real spirituality” or “real pastoral spirituality”? What can be sustainable sources of spiritual nourishment for clergy and others who are employed by the church? These questions might call for a wider understanding of pastoral spirituality than has traditionally been the case, and also for the willingness to look for such spirituality outside the explicitly “religious or spiritual sphere.” The quotes above are taken from open ended, in-depth interviews with ordained pastors in my Norwegian, Lutheran context. The twenty-one strategically sampled interviewees of this study on clergy spirituality all served as pastors in the Church of Norway (CofN) at the time they were interviewed.

At the outset of my research, my focus was primarily the contemplative or devotional practices of the clergyHowever, during the analysis, the salience and significance of everyday practices related to children and family life began emerging as a pattern worth exploring more in depth. This is a discovery that I would have probably not reached had I only studied classical texts written by spiritual figures such as Julian of Norwich, St. John of the Cross, or Evelyn Underhill.

This essay, then, has a twofold purpose; one material and one methodological. Materially, it makes a plea for the significance of an everyday spirituality not only for lay (people), but also for clergy, at least in non-Catholic traditions. This might also apply to lay leaders and deacons in Catholic contexts. Methodologically, I want to suggest that an ethnographic approach might enrich the study of Christian spirituality by expanding the sources (or data) to be explored, and by challenging or nuancing existing categories of the field. The ethnographic lens gives access to the spiritual experiences of contemporary people who have not written—or are not in the position to write—spiritual texts themselves.