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Eschatology, Ethics, and Ēthnos

Ressentiment and Christian Nationalism in the Anthropology of Christianity

Jon Bialecki

locate them, and—as developments in the anthropology of Christianity suggest—there are also many paths to get there. But one path starts at Virginia Beach, Virginia. While there are many fine lodging establishments in this city, if you are going to be

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Aparecida Vilaça

This article is an ethnographic essay on the notion of an 'ontological turn', taken here in its literal sense of ontological change. It explores a specific sociocosmological transformation – one resulting from the conversion of an Amazonian people, the Wari', to Christianity – via the concept of ontology. The central question here concerns the relationship between an Amazonian animist/perspectivist ontology and the naturalism characteristic of Christian-Western thought. Through a critical reading of the notion of ontological change advanced by Descola (2013) in Beyond Nature and Culture, the article aims to show that the transformation experienced by the Wari' with the arrival of Christianity can be described neither as a linear transition between ontologies, nor as the result of the foregrounding of conceptions or kinds of relationship previously found in an encompassed form. The separation between humans and animals, and the constitution of an inner self typical of Christian naturalism, are becoming gradually absorbed into the Wari' world now but were non-existent and inconceivable in their traditional universe. An examination of the translation choices made by the Evangelical missionaries from the New Tribes Mission and the apprehension of these ideas by the Wari' suggests a complex and non-linear transition between the two ontologies.

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Shu-Yuan Yang

Christianity functions as a significant identity marker for the Bunun, an Austronesian-speaking indigenous people of Taiwan. However, identity construction and boundary maintenance are not given by them as immediate reasons for conversion. Instead, the continuity between Bunun traditional beliefs and Christianity is commonly viewed as the most important reason why the latter took strong hold among the Bunun. This article aims to explain why this is so, and to illustrate how the Bunun have transformed Christianity from a foreign religion into something that is familiar, indigenous, and of their own. Among the local Christians, theology is downplayed in favor of piety, which is cultivated and expressed through practical activities. Healing, in particular, is seen as a demonstration of the power of the Christian God and constitutes the Bunun experience of Christianity.

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Marxism and Christianity

Dependencies and Differences in Alasdair MacIntyre's Critical Social Thought

Peter McMylor

Alasdair MacIntyre, a leading moral philosopher in the English speaking world, was from his earliest intellectual formation influenced profoundly both by Christianity and Marxism. MacIntyre argues that Marxism has religious roots, in that it gains its vision of the good life of peace and reconciliation from Christianity, mediated by Hegel, but makes this life historically concrete. The article views MacIntyre's early intellectual career as a case study in the productive tension generated by an analysis of the connections between Christianity and Marxism. It is suggested that by examining the similarities and differences of these two traditions, MacIntyre points to the sources of radicalism that lie at the apparently conservative heart of western culture and reveals aspects of the continuing significance of this culture's religious background. He also points to the difficulties both traditions have in engaging with modern liberal culture.

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The Case for Religious Transmission

Time and Transmission in the Anthropology of Christianity

Vlad Naumescu

Acknowledging the growing interest in issues of religious transmission, this article reviews two promising yet contradictory approaches to religion that could be described as historicist and universalist. It offers an alternative view premised on their convergence in a pragmatic approach that can link the material, contextual, and institutional dimensions of transmission with corresponding cognitive, perceptive, and emotional processes. This perspective recognizes the historicity of religious transmission and its cognitive underpinnings while attending to the materiality of its semiotic forms. The article focuses on the relationship between time and transmission in recent ethnographies of Christianity that show how Christian temporalities influence perceptions of social continuity or rupture and individuals' becoming in history. Within this frame, it examines the case of Old Believers, an apocalyptic movement that emerged out of a schism in seventeenth-century Russian Orthodoxy, to indicate how a pragmatic approach works in practice.

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Pentecostalism and 'National Culture'

A Dialogue between Brazilian Social Sciences and the Anthropology of Christianity

Cecília L. Mariz and Roberta B.C. Campos

This article aims to show how the hegemonic interpretation of Pentecos- talism in Brazil has difficulty recognizing changes caused by these churches to 'local' cultures. We argue that this tendency can be explained by a widespread adherence to structuralist theories of society combined with an unwillingness to accept the reimag- ining of a national culture historically built up by Brazilian social science. We suggest that the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God has been the Pentecostal church most studied by Brazilian researchers because it provides a powerful means to indicate the strength of 'Brazilian culture'. Through our analysis of more recent studies, we point out the salience of these debates to wider questions relating to the emergent anthropology of Christianity, concluding that since neither discontinuities nor continuities can be denied in the field, the focus on one or the other dimension should be seen as a methodological choice rather than an orientation specifically arising from empirical observation.

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Gediminas Lankauskas

This article examines The Word of Faith, one of the largest congregations of "modern" charismatic Christians in post-Soviet Lithuania. The ethnographic focus is on the church's extensive network of trust, altruistic exchange, and sociability, known as bendravimas. These networks are theorized as a kind of civil society that allows its members to claim "ethical distinction" and enables them to take a critical stance toward the surrounding social milieu, perceived to be in moral disarray. The Word of Faith is discussed in relation to the national Catholic Church (its principal religious rival) and vis-à-vis broader Lithuanian society. The article suggests that it is concrete everyday practices deemed to be moral and civil, rather than abstract Christian precepts, that motivate Word of Faith believers to be "good people." It is also argued that such practices constitute important means for engendering and reproducing the charisma of this "modern" evangelical congregation.

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Rebekka King

“I didn’t know that we were the repugnant other,” my student Tracy exclaimed as she entered the classroom and tossed her books on the table. “I didn’t know that anthropologists were interested in studying us at all!” “Yes, I imagine it comes as a surprise,” I responded as I finished moving the classroom desks into a semi-circle that was intended to facilitate the creation of spaces marked by open dialogue and diversity—core pedagogical concerns of the institution at which I was teaching. It was the second day of class, and Tracy’s comments were in response to Joel Robbins’s (2003) article “What Is a Christian? Notes toward an Anthropology of Christianity.” His discussion of Susan Harding’s infamous ‘repugnant cultural other’, which Robbins describes as an “anomalous mixture of the similar and the different” (ibid.: 193), had hit a nerve. Tracy’s question about anthropological interests in the Christian subject was an expected one, given that I was leading a special topics seminar on the Anthropology of Christianity to master of divinity students at the Candler School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary affiliated with Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Introduction

Toward a Comparative Anthropology of Muslim and Christian Lived Religion

Daan Beekers

remarkable lack of comparative work across religious traditions. In the last 15 years or so, the anthropology of religion has branched into separate subfields, including, most notably, the anthropologies of Islam and Christianity. While these specialized

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Afterword

Comparison in the Anthropological Study of Plural Religious Environments

Birgit Meyer

bifurcation of the study of religion in Africa into separate fields of scholarship focusing on Islam and Christianity, respectively. Achieving this goal requires thinking about and conducting comparison. While scholars of religion are well equipped to gain