Abstract: Contemporary forms of Pentecostalism, such as that of the Faith Movement, are often represented as inherently global, constituting a religion ‘made to travel’ and to missionize across the world. I argue that while much attention has been paid to proselytization as a catalyst in encouraging transnational activities among such Christians, more analysis is needed of how Pentecostalists represent each other in the construction of global imaginaries. The imagined and enacted networks that result assert connections between like-minded believers but also valorize the power of distance in the creation of landscapes of religious agency whose power is illustrated through such tropes as ‘number’, ‘mobility’, ‘presence’ and ‘conquest’. I juxtapose two Prosperity-oriented movements, that of the Swedish Word of Life and the Nigerian Redeemed Christian Church of God, to indicate further how Christians who appear to be conjoined via common forms of worship appear, from another perspective, to be inhabiting and moving across disjunct global landscapes and cartographies as they engage in very different forms of mobility.
Abstract: What does it mean to talk of the religion ‘of’ a given country? I reflect on an edited volume dealing with religion in Britain and consider two related themes: the secular considered as ‘absence’ or ‘presence’, and the siting of religion not in conventional denominations or ritual practices but in spaces of encounter between religions, and between the so-called ‘religious’ and ‘secular’.
Abstract: The authors focus on strategies and aesthetics of urban expansion in Lagos and London by members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. On the one hand, these two metropolises represent very different forms of urban governance and religious context. On the other, they are juxtaposed and conjoined in significant ways as believers seek to fulfill spiritual and economic aspirations. ‘London-Lagos’ becomes a stretched city space that is created but also traversed as members negotiate diasporic linkages in the remaking of their lives as both believers and urban citizens.
Abstract: This brief afterword comments on the papers from this special issue, arguing that each explores current complexities of interactions between national and transnational orientations, but also helps to nuance understandings of the global through the invocation of history. As a result, we not only observe the interplay between colonial and post-colonial regimes of religion and politics, but also gain an appreciation of transnational religious impulses that were in operation well before the last few decades of explicitly ‘global consciousness’. Christianisation has a significant history in the regions covered, but it cannot be understood through crude, unilinear models of development or progress.
Coleman, Simon. 2012. “Afterword: De-exceptionalising Islam.” In Articulating Islam: Anthropological Approaches to Muslim Worlds. Edited by Magnus Marsden and Bryan Turner, 247-258. New York: Springer.
Excerpt: “The point here is not to argue, in procrustean fashion, that, far from being irredeemably ‘Other’, Islam actually turns out to be just like other world religions, such as Christianity. This kind of claim – a kind of Orientalism replaced by a form of intellectual McDonaldization – would combine ethnographic naivety with a contradiction of this volume’s message concerning Islam’s ‘immanent’ resistance to being separated out into an autonomous realm of belief and action. However, such reflections should lead us to a question raised about the anthropology of any world religion, once we start to worry at ‘exceptionalisms’ or ‘essentialisms’: what is actually gained by confining our theoretical questions and comparisons to cases relating to any single religion? This issue is raised forcefully by Chris Hann (2007:402) in relation to the burgeoning anthropology of Christianity, where he criticizes the idealism behind calls to explore the ‘cultural logic’ of the religion, and indeed questions (ibid.:406) Joel Robbins’s attempt (2003) to present the anthropology of Islam as exemplary for that of Christianity. Hann summarizes Robbins’s approach as stating that ‘similar progress [to that made on Islam] might be made with Christianity if all those working on Christian groups were to prioritize the theme of religion and engage systematically with each others’ work’ (Hann 2007:406). By ways of contrast, Hann challenges the very idea of demarcating one world religion as a suitable domain for comparison, and argues instead for an approach that proceeds on the basis of identifying analytical problems (such as Christian and non-Christian ideas of transcendence, Catholic versus Muslim notions of mediation, and so on). In some respects, we already see this approach played out in the present volume. For instance Retsikas invokes the work of Thomas Csordas (1994) on charismatic Catholicism in juxtaposing Charismatic and experiences of the immanent presence of the divine. Gabriele vom Bruck’s invocation of David Freedberg’s The Power of Images, (1989) in her discussion of photographic representations of women also opens a window to the kind of comparative observations that Freedberg himself makes . . .. “
Excerpt: Where on earth to begin with the rich but deeply disturbing material presented to us on BishopAccountability.org? (For an example, see the documents relating to the Province of St. Barbara.) How to confront the archive’s huge volume but also the extent of its moral charge?
I also have a number of questions about what we are, or should be, looking at—the proper boundaries of the object of our inquiry.
Is this a particularly American phenomenon? After all, clerical sexual abuse has been reported in many parts of the world, even if nation-wide inquiries have been instituted in just a few places, such as the U.S. and Ireland. And is this an exclusively Christian (or even Catholic) phenomenon? In fact, a Chicago Tribune story from 2011reported the laxity of control over Buddhist monks who engage in sexual abuse in the U.S., though interestingly the tenor of the story implies that the problem was the lack of central control of such priests, whereas in the cases we’re looking at here there are clear problems with the center itself.
But can we even say that this is an exclusively or an especially religious phenomenon and be sure that the levels of abuse we’ve witnessed in the archive greatly exceed those in society at large? That last question has to be asked, even if the answer seems likely to be in the affirmative.
A more historical question relates to the framing and trajectory of the issue in the archive itself and whether, for instance, we can discern a shift away from an exclusively spiritual framing of behavior by church officials towards one where both legal and psychiatric languages are being brought in, if sometimes also conspicuously ignored.
Thinking about the archive in terms of the history of Christianity prompts another question for me. I wonder about the extent to which invoking history suggests both causality and context. In other words, does locating these sexual acts in the context of the history of Christianity or Catholicism either explain them or explain them away? The answer to both of these questions should, I think, be “no,” but we still need to look for patterns and shifts in the trajectories of opinion or activity that we might deem to be significant. In what follows, I use different histories to show how they inflect my readings of the archives, though I do not attempt to connect these four historical fragments in a systematic way . . .
Abstract: This article explores forms of history and memory constructed around the Christian pilgrimage site of Walsingham, England. While exploring different ways of appropriating the past exhibited by pilgrims, ranging from “reliving,“ “remixing,“ and “reframing,“ the article argues that Walsingham’s powerful symbolic resonances emerge in part from its role as a context for “archeotheology,“ whereby a sacramental religious ideology is reinforced by the forms of ruination evident at key points of the site.
Coleman, Simon. 2012. Christianities in Oceania: Historical Genealogies and Anthropological Insularities. Archives de sciences sociales des religions. 157(1): 13-28.
Abstract: I explore the themes contained in this special issue by asking how papers prompt us to ask: What difference does Christianity make—to “culture”, to relations with the state or nation, to the self? This question must be inflected by the realization that Christianity has a long-standing history in Oceania, and has become part of the religio-political landscape that contemporary believers inhabit and sometimes react against. Posing the question also involves an examination of how papers juxtapose versions of history (broader processes of reproduction and transformation over time) with religiously-motivated historiographies (how Christians themselves understand and construct the present in relation to the past). I use these reflections to argue for the usefulness of exploring distinctions and resonances among three orientations towards culture discernible in the papers as a whole: those of being “of”, “against” and “for” culture.
Abstract: I focus on the experience of time and perception of history within the Word of Life charismatic ministry in Sweden, demonstrating the mutual implication of the physical and the temporal, the biographical and the historical, in members’ lives. While conversion draws on a personal frame of reference in relation to the passage of time, spiritualised temporality can also be given a more ambitious frame, incorporating major events that might lead to Christ’s return. Believers wrestle with at least two ways of dealing with history. One pertains to a mimetic relation to previous action: invoking history. The other involves the articulation of something discontinuous and new, an ‘event’ that moves towards the ultimate salvationist and transformative aims of the faith: making history. Both raise the question of how novelty can be invoked through deploying cultural resources that, seemingly paradoxically, recall actions taken in the past – a process I term ‘historiopraxy’.
Publisher’s Description: This interdisciplinary introduction offers students a truly global overview of the worldwide spread and impact of Christianity. It is enriched throughout by detailed historic and ethnographic material, showing how broad themes within Christianity have been adopted and adapted by Christian denominations within each major region of the world.
- Provides a comprehensive overview of the spread and impact of world Christianity
- Contains studies from every major region of the world, including Africa, Asia, Latin America, the North Atlantic, and Oceania
- Brings together an international team of contributors from history, sociology, and anthropology, as well as religious studies
- Examines the significant social, cultural, and political transformations in contemporary societies brought about through the influence of Christianity
- Takes a non-theological approach, focusing instead on the impact of and response to Christianity
- Discusses Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic, and Orthodox forms of the faith
- Features useful maps and illustrations
- Combines broader discussions with detailed regional analysis, creating an invaluable introduction to world Christianity
This is an engaging multidisciplinary introduction to the worldwide spread and impact of Christianity. Bringing together chapters from leading scholars in history, sociology, anthropology, and religious studies, this book examines the major transformations in contemporary societies brought about through the influence of Christianity.
Each chapter shows how the broad themes within Christianity have been adopted and adapted by Christian denominations within each major region of the world. In this way, the book paints a global picture of the impact of Christianity, enriched by detailed historic and ethnographic material for each particular region. Throughout, the chapters examine Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox forms of Christianity. The combination of broader perspectives and deep analysis of particular regions, illuminating the social, cultural, political, and religious features of changes brought about by Christianity, makes this book essential reading for students of world Christianity.