Abstract: Kingdom tok is an expression that is increasingly used in Honiara. It describes a set of ideas and practices related to what Solomon Islanders see as a recent ‘season’ in their history. Such a season is characterised by the reappropriation of particular meanings of their faith that they perceive as influenced by recent historical processes such as the colonial era, the introduction of Christianity, and the first few decades from independence. In terms of ‘Kingdom’, they envision the possibility to challenge political hierarchies, social stratification, and issues of governance, as well as to re-define their identities in relation to a general state of empowerment. In Honiara, Pentecostal churches and groups with a strong identification with Judaism make use of Kingdom tok discourses. I claim that they experience the actualisation of Kingdom tok as concrete projects of social action and service provision, which they see as concrete alternatives to historical churches, the state, and the ‘way of the waitman’.
Publisher’s Description: The Handbook of Global Contemporary Christianity: Themes and Developments in Culture, Politics, and Society maps the transformations, as well as the continuities, of the largest of the major religions – engaging with the critical global issues which relate to the faith in a fast changing world. International experts in the area offer contributions focusing on global movements; regional trends and developments; Christianity, the state, politics and polity; and Christianity and social diversity. Collectively the contributors provide a comprehensive treatment of health of the religion as Christianity enters its third millennium in existence and details the challenges and dilemmas facing its various expressions, both old and new. The volume is a companion to the Handbook of Contemporary Global Christianity: Movements, Institutions, and Allegiance.
Abstract: The article shows that in Foucault’s late 1970s and early 1980s analyses of pastoral, conductive power—most essentially in early and medieval Christianity—the issue of sight and visual perception recurs and occupies a crucial status. In Foucault’s discussion, these Christian relations of power, knowledge, and truth are attached with a surveying gaze that is both totalizing as well as individualizing, one that is mobilized by the thrust towards perfect visibility, transparency, and illumination of the subject turned into an object. The intention is also to develop Foucault’s analysis further, by demonstrating how Christian, providential government can be and actually has been detached from the totalizing modality of optics, and instead become articulated with a very different sort of sight and seeing, one that is non-totalizing and affirms its own limits. The article maintains that from this angle, Foucault’s conception of modern, economic-liberal governmentality has essential convergences with the Christian form of providential government, even though Foucault himself leaves these convergences partly inarticulate.
Abstract: In August 2010, Côte d’Ivoire commemorated fifty years of independence. Local Pentecostal churches likewise celebrated the jubilee, marking the liberation of slaves after seven times seven years of servitude as promised in Leviticus 25: 8–10. This reading of independence was closely linked to the incumbent president’s political project of refondation based on a premillennial understanding of the interrelatedness of past, present and future. In this article, I explore Pentecostal political rhetoric and performances of the past during the jubilee celebrations, and the post-electoral crisis of 2010–2011. Drawing on empirical research into memory at work in Côte d’Ivoire, I question the instrumentalist paradigm used in analysis of religious ways of thinking about the world. By emphasizing performances of the past and collective memory, I explain how being born-again is enacted as politics and how politics are perceived in terms of faith.
Abstract: In Pentecostal political theology in Africa, there has been a movement from Pentecostal disjunction from state and society towards conjunction on governance levels. This eventually led to disillusionment with Pentecostal policymaking, both within African Pentecostal milieus and public discourses. The entrance of Pentecostal actors onto the political stage in African countries dates back to the transformative years from 1989 to 1993, in which democratic movements all over the continent were challenging autocratic presidential regimes. This era has been termed in political science the “second democratization” after the immediate postcolonial era of nation building in the 1960s. Almost invisible before, Pentecostal political impact was growing enormously and transformed into varied efforts to ‘pentecostalize’ governance since the turn of the millennium. In view of selected West African political cultures and Kenya discussed in this special issue of Nova Religio, a dialectics in Pentecostal visions of politics becomes obvious: The diversity of political strategies testifies to African Pentecostal potency in public discourses, but once entangled in actual policymaking, Pentecostal praxis discredits self-images of superiority in politics.
Publisher’s Description: Within recent decades Pentecostal/charismatic Christianity has moved from an initially peripheral position to become a force to be reckoned with within Africa’s religious landscape. Bringing together prominent Africanist scholars from a wide range of disciplines, this book offers a comprehensive and multifaceted treatment of the ways in which Pentecostal-Charismatic movements have shaped the orientations of African Christianity and extended their influence into other spheres of post-colonial societies such as politics, developmental work and popular entertainment. Among other things, the chapters of the book show how Pentecostal/charismatic Christianity responds to social and cultural concerns of Africans, and how its growth and increasingly assertive presence in public life have facilitated new kinds of social positioning and claims to political power.
Contributors: Allan Anderson, Richard Burgess, Jean Comaroff, Dave Garrard, Paul Gifford, Andreas Heuser, Ben Jones, William Kay, J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu , Martin Lindhardt, John F. McCauley, Katrien Pype, Jane Soothill, Ilana van Wyk
Bialecki, Jon. 2014. Diagramming the Will: Ethics and Prayer, Text, and Politics. Ethnos 1-23 (DOI: 10.1080/00141844.2014.986151)
Abstract: Framing prayer as an ethical exercise that operates on a recalcitrant will, this essay examines both this practice in the Vineyard, an American Neocharismatic church, and texts written by Vineyard pastors for the purposes of instructing believers in how to engage in prayer. It argues that the same abstract play of forces can be identified in both these areas. But that does not mean the two areas are identical. While prayer as a practice is marked by a certain indetermination about how and in what ways prayer is effective, instructional material about prayer are shown to be much more exacting. However, different choices among pastors in how they situate prayer is shown to have specific political effects; it also suggests some of the benefits for an anthropology of ethics in being careful to disarticulate ethical practice from texts describing means to properly engage in ethical practice.
Abstract: Drawing upon extensive oral history interviews and long scale participant observation in two London churches, an ethnically diverse Catholic parish in Canning Town and a predominantly West-African Pentecostal congregation in Peckham, this article compares and contrasts differing Christian expressions and understandings of ‘civic engagement’ and gendered articulations of lay social ‘ministry’ through prayer, religious praxis and local politics. Through community organizing and involvement in the third sector, but also through spiritual activities like the ‘Catholic Prayer Ministry’ and ‘deliverance’, Catholics and Pentecostals are shown to be re-mapping London – a city ripe for reverse mission – through contesting ‘secularist’ and implicitly gendered distinctions between the public and private/domestic, and the spiritual and political. Greater scholarly appreciation of these subjective understandings of civic engagement and social activism is important for fully recognizing the agency of lay people,and particularly women often marginalized in church-based and institutional hierarchies, in articulating and actuating their call to Christian citizenship and the (re)sacralization of the city
Elisha, Omri. 2013. All Catholics Now? Spectres of Catholicism in Evangelical Social Engagement. In The New Evangelical Social Engagement edited by Brian Steensland, Philip Goff, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Excerpt: “Addressing an audience of conservative leaders and lobbyists in February 2012, evangelical pundit and former governor Mike Huckabee boldly announced, “We are all Catholics now.” The surprising rallying cry, coming from an ordained Southern Baptist pastor, was in response to a controversy over an Obama administration proposal to require private employers, including religious organizations, to provide insurance coverage for contraception. Catholic bishops came out vigorously opposing the measure, and Huckabee’s show of solidarity, in the name of religious liberty and defeating President Obama, was adopted by a variety of high-profile conservatives, including evangelicals as well as other non-Catholics. In July, in what was heralded as an unprecedented move, evangelical flagship Wheaton College joined Catholic University of America in a lawsuit against the federal mandate.
Such politics of affinity may seem counterintuitive, but they make sense in the context of an election year when two GOP contenders (Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum) and the party’s vice presidential nominee (Paul Ryan) were Roman Catholics with strong support among conservative evangelicals. Indeed, evangelicals and Roman Catholics have found ways to get along for decades, demonstrating repeated, albeit cautious, willingness to forge mean- ingful partnerships despite stark doctrinal differences and mutual recrimi- nations. From the ecumenism of the Billy Graham crusades to the abortion activism of the religious right, to interfaith dialogue groups like Catholics and Evangelicals for the Common Good (spearheaded by veteran bridge-builders like Ron Sider), evangelicals and Catholics routinely find common cause around moral, political, and social issues. In recent years, leaders and intel- lectuals of both traditions have come together to form coalitions and working groups, issuing influential (and controversial) manifestos such as the landmark “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” document of 1994 and the Manhattan Declaration of 2009. The charismatic renewal movement opened up multiple lines of communication and joint worship that continue to influence adherents in both camps. And as is evident in this book, especially in chapters 2, 9, and 10, politically and socially engaged evangelicals have been borrowing conceptual tools and mobilization strategies from Catholic activists for many years.
Aside from formal partnerships and dialogues, there are subtle and implicit resonances between contemporary evangelical and Catholic sensi- bilities that are less conspicuous but worth investigating as well. This chapter is an attempt to think about notable features and cultural characteristics of evangelicalism’s new social engagement that recall or resonate with Roman Catholic theology and practice, with an emphasis on shared motivational themes especially as applied to ministries of social welfare. While the fact that evangelicals and Catholics are able to come together around certain social and political issues is significant, issue agreement is only one marker of elective affinity. By framing my discussion in terms of resonance (intentional or otherwise) rather than collaboration, I point to underlying affinities between these two traditions, and, more important, I highlight the ways that divergent traditions separated by centuries of theology and ritual practice may find themselves drawn into closer alignments in their modalities of religious and social action, resulting from gradual shifts in public consciousness. The possible ways in which uniquely evangelical influences make their way into Catholic ministries and services merit exploration as well, but this is not within the purview of my discussion here.”