Abstract: I explore the troubled relationship between anthropology and conservative Christianity, represented here by Prosperity-oriented Pentecostalism. My interest is not only in the complex boundaries erected between social scientific and religious practice, but also in the ways both involve the construction of ethical orientations to the world that are chronically constituted by the deployment of boundaries that play on movements between the foregrounding and backgrounding of ethical standpoints. One implication of my argument is that we need to consider more carefully the temporality of ethical framing of action. Another is that anthropology must acknowledge the fragmented, even ironic and playful, aspects of Pentecostal practice.
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’.