Presterudstuen, “Performing Masculinity Through Christian Devotion”

Presterudstuen, Geir Henning.  2015. Performing Masculinity Through Christian Devotion: Methodism, Manhood and Colonial Mimicry in Fiji. Interventions, early online publication.

Abstract: Although the academic research on religion in Fiji and the South Pacific is substantial, there are few examples of studies that connect religion with the larger discourses of Fijian tradition and social life. Even fewer are the ones linking culturally specific notions of gender performances to Christian devotion. By utilizing the theoretical framework of colonial mimicry,1

I argue that the Christianization of Fiji, particularly its continued impact on the social organization of modern Fijian society, has been reliant upon its collusion with premodern Fijian notions of gender, power and consanguinity. Based on historical enquiries and ethnographic material, I develop the argument that while conversion may be understood as the conscious adoption and mimicking of the western notion of religion as presented by Wesleyan misGeir Henning Presterudstuensionaries in the 1800s, the Fijian understanding of their Christianity, the merging between Christian belief and Fijian social protocol and the consequent development of culturally specific articulations of Christian devotion have produced substantial differences from western theological practice and teaching. A central distinction is the close link between performances of masculinity and Christian devotion found among Fijian Methodists.

Herbal, “Turning to Tradition”

Herbal, (The Rev.) D. Oliver.  2014.  Turning to Tradition: Converts and the Making of an American Orthodox Church.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Publisher’s Description: Recent years have seen increasing numbers of Protestant and Catholic Christians converting to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. In this book D. Oliver Herbel examines Christian converts to Orthodoxy who served as exemplars and leaders for convert movements in America during the twentieth century. These convert groups include Carpatho Rusyns, African Americans, and Evangelicals.

Religious mavericks have a long history in Americaa tradition of being anti-tradition. Converts to orthodoxy reject such individualism by embracing an ancient form of Christianity even as they exemplify it by choosing their own religious paths. Drawing on archival resources including Rusyn and Russian newspapers, unpublished internal church documents, personal archives, and personal interviews, Herbel presents a close examination of the theological reasons for the exemplary converts’ own conversions as well as the reasons they offered to persuade those who followed them. He considers the conversions within the context of the American anti-tradition, and of racial and ethnic tensions in America. This book offers the first serious investigation of this important trend in American religion and the first in-depth investigation of any kind of African-American Orthodoxy.

Flinn, “Pollapese Catholicism”

Flinn, Juliana. 2013. Pollapese Catholicism as Strategy. Oceania 83(1): 16-30.

Abstract: Indigenous groups creatively incorporate outside institutions, including Christianity, for local purposes. Furthermore, people who see themselves as observing tradition may also construe themselves as being Christian and citizens of a nation. Despite the original external origins of Christianity, meaning becomes locally constructed and asserted for local purposes so that religion as practiced is about local, regional, or national concerns rather than commitment to particular dogmas, institutions, and hierarchy. A case in point are the people of Pollap in the Caroline Islands of Micronesia, who converted to Christianity in the middle of the twentieth century through the efforts of a Catholic catechist. Today the islanders practice a vibrant version of Catholicism in which local symbols and beliefs infuse imported Catholic ritual, and in which biblical verses and imagery support secular, political strategies. Pollapese seem less concerned with theology and more with behavior that demonstrates good character. As they attempt to exploit and reconcile potentially conflicting guides for behavior from the realms of religion, tradition, and government, they make strategic use of their understandings of Catholicism’s dictates for political and social purposes.