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Co-existing through Opposition

Competitive Theologies and Cohesion in a Spanish Village

Josep Almudéver Chanzà


Beyond ethnographic portrayals of religious competition as conducive to rupture and separation, this article shows forms of intradenominational competitive coexistence that allow for both the social reproduction of the community of faith and religious change and innovation. In a Spanish village, Catholic congregants compete not only to secure worldly resources such as priestly time or church-owned spaces, but also over the legitimacy of differing understandings of human–divine relationships and of the role of religion in a postsecular society. Here, competition involves forms of epistemic posturing, a denial of the priest's power as arbiter, and the appeal to the state as facilitator. Intradenominational competition between iconoclasts and ‘traditional’ Catholics redefines the community as a complex of competing theologies, even as it courts schism and difference.