Abstract:In Christian traditions of “speaking in tongues,” glossolalia refers to an explicitly linguistic form of involvement with the deity, one carried out through denotationally unintelligible behavior. Its religious legitimacy depends on its being speech and not merely speech-like. South Korean Christians practice glossolalia widely across denominations, commonly in cacophonous settings of group prayer. Combined, glossolalia and cacophony impose limits on “normal” linguistic functions while reinforcing ideological commitments to language itself. Glossolalia should be conceptualized as cultural semiosis that is said to contain, and can therefore be justified by, an ideological core of language, but that is in fact produced at the ideological limits of language. This dynamic shapes how practitioners discern the nature of communication with their deity and with one another.
Abstract: The background to this article is the controversy caused in 1980s South Korea when some theologians accused Yonggi Cho’s Full Gospel theology of syncretizing “shamanism” with Christianity. In this article, I shall problematize the use of both “shamanism” and “Pentecostalism” in this controversy. Instead, I shall set the episode in the wider context of what might be called Korean traditional religion, which has an animistic cosmology. By pointing to an affinity between Korean Protestantism more generally and Korean traditional religion that goes back at least to the 1907 Korean Revival, I shall argue that the Pentecostal–Charismatic and the liberationist strands of Korean Protestantism together represent a developing understanding of what it means to do Christian theology in the context of animism – or in a land of many spirits.
Abstract: This article proposes some analytical and methodological approaches to the urban ethnography of the human voice. Drawing on research among Protestant Christians in Seoul, South Korea, I consider the voice along three semiotic dimensions: the relationship between body and sound, the relationship between speech and song, and the relationship between the literal voice and more metaphorical understandings of voice (as perspective, political position, personhood, style, etc.). By focusing on Seoul’s rapid postwar urbanization, the growth of Protestant Christianity, and the intersection of these two phenomena in the suppression and erasure of signs of struggle and hardship by a certain population among the city’s Christians, I demonstrate how a focus on the human voice has the potential to illuminate important issues in the urban ethnography of newer Asian ‘megacities.’
Abstract: This ethnographic analysis of the pragmatic links among forms of address, honorifics, and narratives of spiritual maturity clarifies a conflict between two Christian models of social change in South Korea: absolute social rupture and transcendence, and progressive shifts in social orientation and institutional self-location. The focus is on a Protestant proposal for all Korean Christians to address one another with the terms hyŏngje-nim (brother) and chamae-nim (sister). While these terms promised to combine the intimacy of siblinghood with the clear marking of Christian status, they generally had the interactional effect of establishing distance where there was to be closeness and lowering where there was to be esteem. Furthermore, a simplification of address to these two basic kinship terms threatened to establish an ascetic mode of pragmatics that would override the intricate formal coding and indexing of status differentiation by the enregistered honorifics of Korean. Combined, these limited forms of address and the severe restriction of social deixis generated yet further conflict between different chronotopic formulations of social relations, namely between the narrative timespace internal to specific kinds of Korean social relations, and the generalized external narrative timespace of modern Korean Christian society at large.
Publishers’s Description: A Moving Faith captures the dynamic shift of Christianity to the South and portrays a global movement that promises prosperity, healing, empowerment, and gender equality by invoking neo-Pentecostal and Charismatic resources. It postulates that neither North America nor Europe is the current center of the Christian faith.
The book provides a detailed overview of how migration of Christians from the South enriches the North, for instance, Pope Francis brings newness, freshness, and the vigor characteristic of the South. While describing Christianity’s growth in the South, it suggests that, in fact, there is no center for this global faith. It explores this great move of Christianity by focusing on representative mega churches in South Korea, Brazil, Peru, Ghana, Nigeria, Australia, India, and the Philippines.
Abstract: This article explores how undocumented Peruvian laborers have established a significant presence within some of Korea’s powerful evangelical churches through their identification of respuestas (answers or signs) from God. Many Peruvians arrived in Korea in the early 1990s on their way to more profitable labor destinations, such as Japan or Europe, but stayed after finding factory work. Through their conversions to Protestantism in Korea, they have begun to identify events such as unplanned pregnancies or their ability to evade deportation as signs that their migration to Korea was predestined. Through promoting their respuestas to various audiences, Peruvians not only recast their unlikely migration as predestined but change their own status from being economic laborers to recognized leaders within Korean churches. Korean church leaders embrace Peruvians and respuestas as a way to promote their church’s own cosmopolitan image and desires for launching global missions to locations such as Peru. As such, respuestas are a common framework through which migrants and church leaders co-create their global aspirations and experiences.
Abstract: This article ethnographically analyzes the practices of deaf young adults in Bangalore, India. As sign language is not used by families, schools, or other institutions, the church is a crucial educational space. Churchgoing provides deaf young adults with opportunities to orient themselves toward other deaf young adults, to develop new ideas of self and other, and to value sign language.
Silcott, William & Jens Kreinath. 2013. Transformations of a ‘religious’ nation in a global world: Politics, Protestantism and ethnic identity in South Korea. Culture and Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal 14(2):223-240.
Abstract: In an increasingly globalised world, matters of national identity are no longer confined solely to domestic politics. This paper proposes that Christianity in South Korea is engaged in a mutually reinforcing relationship with the construction of Korean national identity, particularly concerning historical dynamics of both Westernisation and the formation of nationalism. In positioning the role of religion in the creation of a national image, the conflicts and contestations between religious groups will become politically effective. As actors in the political and religious field attempt to reflexively create an image of Korea that transcends national borders and anticipates to overcome domestic and ethnic divides, religion becomes more than an article of faith through its entanglement with national politics. By recognising the impact of Westernisation and its historical implications for this process, it becomes possible to approach the formation of Korean identity from a new angle by accounting for the efficacy of the self-reflexive image.
Han, Ju Hi Judy (2011) ‘“If You Don’t Work, You Don’t Eat”: Evangelizing Development in Africa.’ In New Millennium South Korea: Neoliberal Capital and Transnational Movements, ed. Jesook Song. London: Routledge.
Excerpt: Work or else starve – these unkind words were uttered partly out of frustration. Two South Korean Christian missionaries from Global Mission Frontier (GMF) were presenting a week-long economic development seminar to approximately 30 local government officials and municipal employees crowded inside a modest hotel room in Mwanza, Tanzania. The seminar leader, Deacon Shin, had begun by introducing himself as hailing from the prosperous land of Samsung and the LG Group (two of the world’s biggest conglomerates) but he failed to impress – the participants had never heard of these corporate brands. “How about Hyndai?” Deacon Shin asked in disbelief. “You must surely have seen all the Hyundai advertising during the World Cup?” Apparently not. Deacon Shin shook his head in dismay, and explained that there are large, powerful companies from Korea, and that their very success stands as proof of the miracle of Korean economic development . . . It was then that Deacon Shin suddenly instructed everyone to stand up and stretch – and shout after him, “You don’t work, you don’t eat!” When some chuckled, he said firmly, “This is in the Bible!” and pointed to the Bible in his hand. Indeed, there it was in Second Thessalonians of the New Testament: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” He explained that this verse captured the key to Korea’s economic miracle, and rallied the class in fist-pumping chants for several minutes: “No work, no eat! No work, no eat!”