EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W063)

A mysticism for all: conceptions of the individual and conditions for the emergence of neo-evangelical Protestantism

Location Arts Classhall H
Date and Start Time 27 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenors

Christophe Pons (CNRS) email
Virginie Vaté (CNRS) email
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Long Abstract

This workshop addresses the sociocultural transformations that are induced by the emergence of Charismatic and neo-Pentecostals churches. The second half of the 20th century has been a time of profound changes in the history of Christian proselytising. Whereas Christianity has been perceived as a form of imperial domination, we are now witnessing this same Christianity being used as a powerful tool for claiming local identities. This reversal of perspective has led to unexpected conversions and missionary involvement. The shift is also based on profound local transformations of the conception of the individual, the main focus of this workshop. One of the central characteristic of neo-Evangelical churches is the importance they grant to every individual, by emphasising to the extreme the idea of a powerful intimacy between oneself and Jesus, now viewed as a universal and polysemous figure of the supernatural world. This "mysticism for all", to which social actors are drawn by a "theology of personal success", serving as a path to both salvation and entry into modernity, generates and accompanies unprecedented individuation processes. The workshop aims to comprehend these profound metamorphoses in the field of self-representation as keys to understanding the success of neo-Evangelical churches.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Atlantic spiritualities: African Pentecostal churches in Lisbon

Author: Ambra Formenti (FCSH/NOVA )  email
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Long Abstract

The spreading of charismatic and neo-Pentecostals churches in contexts of diaspora and migration, entails the creation of specific scenarios and issues. In the last decades the presence of migrants coming from Africa and Latin America produced the emergence of new configurations of Christianity in European urban spaces. The town of Lisbon is an emblematic case of religious encounter, a space of contact among different experiences of spirituality coming from the Atlantic shores.

The contribution is aimed at exploring the role of religion in the process of identity construction among migrant groups and, in particular, the case of African Pentecostal churches in Lisbon.

The analysis will be focused on the following topics:

1) public and private dimensions of religious identity;

2) transnational networks and processes;

3) theology of prosperity and migratory projects of the worshippers;

4) representations of gender and sexuality.

Evangelism in Tunisia: accommodating Christian conversion in a Muslim context

Author: Katia Boissevain (CNRS)  email
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Long Abstract

In this presentation, based on fieldwork in Tunis, I will describe how, in Tunis today, men and women who chose to exit their Muslim faith and convert to protestant evangelism have to negotiate their place in different spheres. I will address three of these. On the first hand, I will look into the many ways their relation to their families may be reconfigured over time, from rejection to acceptance or resignation. On the second hand, I will outline how these new Christians relate to the State with regard to religious practice and civil acts such as marriages and burials. The Tunisian constitution states that its religion is Islam, while it also guarantees religious freedom. Converts are well aware of this constitutional right and intend to defend it if necessary. Finally, as a newly constituted group, the question of transmission of practices, discourses and values to the next generation is crucial, and I will analyse how this group's identity is delineated and maintained.

Transnational prayer chains: the religious self between nation, narration, and imagination

Author: Sebastian Schueler  email
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Long Abstract

The emergence of Pentecostal and neo-evangelical prayer networks in the last two decades can be understood as a new form of religious transnationalism. Prayer, as a highly intimate ritual form, spreads across many nations, connects individuals from all around the world and with different denominational backgrounds, and acts as a driving force in global Pentecostalism. Further, prayer chains also give rise for new 'sacred' landscapes which become negotiated and narrated in the religious imaginary. In my presentation I will examine certain transnational prayer networks and their impact on representations of the Self within those sacred landscapes. Prayer, I will show, transcends national boundaries and at the same time reinforces national and territorial consciousness. This way, the religious Self becomes negotiated between the local and the global, between 'sacred' and 'profane' landscapes, and between individual prayer and the religious community of a transnational movement.

Prestige and transgression: intimacy with Jesus and social religious changes in the Faroe Islands

Author: Christophe Pons (CNRS)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper seeks to understand the great changes that neo-pentecostal and charismatic revivalisms provoked in the little nordic society of Faroe Islands. During the mid 1980', a new conception of Jesus landed to the archipelago, and quickly settled new free churches all around the country. So far it gained some remarkable success among attenders of traditional darbyst and lutheran congregations. Today, it is worth to consider it as a little revolution for such a conservative religious society. One of the greatest changes is the local conception of the god mad, the "good person". The paper examines how the intimacy with Jesus allows social transgressions and builds a new type of authority and prestige, and what are their influences on local traditional churches.

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This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.