Catholic Italy is a destination for migrants from Nigeria and Ghana, who bring their own form of Christianity—Pentecostalism, the most Protestant of Christian faiths. At the heart of Annalisa Butticci’s ethnography is a paradox. Believers on both sides are driven by a desire to find sensuous, material ways to make the divine visible and tangible.
Aimee Semple McPherson was the most flamboyant and controversial minister in the United States between the world wars, building a successful megachurch, a mass media empire, and eventually a political career to resurrect what she believed was America's Christian heritage. Sutton's definitive study reveals the woman as a trail-blazing pioneer, her life marking the beginning of Pentecostalism's advance to the mainstream of American culture.
In postapartheid Cape Town—Africa's gay capital—many Pentecostal men turned to "ex-gay" ministries in hopes of “curing” their homosexuality in order to conform to conservative Christian values and African social norms. In Desire Work Melissa Hackman traces the experiences of predominantly white ex-gay men as they attempt to forge a heterosexual masculinity and enter into heterosexual marriage through emotional, bodily, and religious work. These men subjected themselves to daily self-surveillance and followed prescribed behaviors such as changing how they talked and walked. Ex-gay men also saw themselves as participating in the redemption of the nation, because South African society was perceived as suffering from a crisis of masculinity in which the country lacked enough moral heterosexual men. By tying the experience of ex-gay men to the convergence of social movements and public debates surrounding race, violence, religion, and masculinity in South Africa, Hackman offers insights into the construction of personal identities in the context of sexuality and spirituality.
With fifty-one million people worldwide actively worshiping in Pentecostal circles, Pentecostalism is not only the single largest movement in Protestantism, but is arguably the single most important religious movement in modern times. But where did these Pentecostals come from? And how did a movement that began obscurely in turn-of-the-century Kansas come to have so much meaning for so many millions of people?
This biographical study of Charles Fox Parham offers a fascinating account of this movement’s origins in the American Midwest and of the one man most responsible for giving that movement its identity. An inspired itinerant preacher from the Kansas prairies, Parham pieced together the unique Pentecostal theology and dedicated his short life to spreading his message of divine hope—a message that was to strike a responsive chord in the hearts of a hard-working people discouraged by frequent economic depression. His story is one of both triumph and defeat, the saga of a sickly farm boy who by the age of thirty-three had converted almost ten thousand followers and yet, less than five years later, had fallen into obscurity, his name besmirched by scandal and his leadership repudiated by the very movement he had struggled so tirelessly to inspire.
Exhaustively researched, Fields White Unto Harvest is an in-depth study of the sociological significance of the Pentecostal movement, its roots in the evangelical thought of the late nineteenth century, and the several directions of its growth in the twentieth. Through Parham’s story, woven into a fascinating narrative by James Goff, we achieve a new understanding of the man behind the movement that would eventually alter the landscape of American religious history.
In 2001, a collection of open and affirming churches with predominantly African American membership and a Pentecostal style of worship formed a radically new coalition. The group, known now as the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries or TFAM, has at its core the idea of “radical inclusivity”: the powerful assertion that everyone, no matter how seemingly flawed or corrupted, has holiness within. Whether you are LGBT, have HIV/AIDS, have been in prison, abuse drugs or alcohol, are homeless, or are otherwise compromised and marginalized, TFAM tells its people, you are one of God’s creations.
In Filled with the Spirit, Ellen Lewin gives us a deeply empathetic ethnography of the worship and community central to TFAM, telling the story of how the doctrine of radical inclusivity has expanded beyond those it originally sought to serve to encompass people of all races, genders, sexualities, and religious backgrounds. Lewin examines the seemingly paradoxical relationship between TFAM and traditional black churches, focusing on how congregations and individual members reclaim the worship practices of these churches and simultaneously challenge their authority. The book looks closely at how TFAM worship is legitimated and enhanced by its use of gospel music and considers the images of food and African American culture that are central to liturgical imagery, as well as how understandings of personal authenticity tie into the desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Throughout, Lewin takes up what has been mostly missing from our discussions of race, gender, and sexuality—close attention to spirituality and faith.
Grant WACKER Harvard University Press, 2001 Library of Congress BR1644.5.U6W33 2001 | Dewey Decimal 289.94097309041
In this lively history of the rise of pentecostalism in the United States, Grant Wacker gives an in-depth account of the religious practices of pentecostal churches as well as an engaging picture of the way these beliefs played out in daily life.
The core tenets of pentecostal belief—personal salvation, Holy Ghost baptism, divine healing, and anticipation of the Lord’s imminent return—took root in the first quarter of the twentieth century. Wacker examines the various aspects of pentecostal culture, including rituals, speaking in tongues, the authority of the Bible, the central role of Jesus in everyday life, the gifts of prophecy and healing, ideas about personal appearance, women’s roles, race relations, attitudes toward politics and the government. Tracking the daily lives of pentecostals, and paying close attention to the voices of individual men and women, Wacker is able to identify the reason for the movement’s spectacular success: a demonstrated ability to balance idealistic and pragmatic impulses, to adapt distinct religious convictions in order to meet the expectations of modern life.
More than twenty million American adults today consider themselves pentecostal. Given the movement’s major place in American religious life, the history of its early years—so artfully told here—is of central importance.
“It’s not a process,” one pastor insisted, “rehabilitation is a miracle.” In the face of addiction and few state resources, Pentecostal pastors in Guatemala City are fighting what they understand to be a major crisis. Yet the treatment centers they operate produce this miracle of rehabilitation through extraordinary means: captivity. These men of faith snatch drug users off the streets, often at the request of family members, and then lock them up inside their centers for months, sometimes years.
Hunted is based on more than ten years of fieldwork among these centers and the drug users that populate them. Over time, as Kevin Lewis O’Neill engaged both those in treatment and those who surveilled them, he grew increasingly concerned that he, too, had become a hunter, albeit one snatching up information. This thoughtful, intense book will reframe the arc of redemption we so often associate with drug rehabilitation, painting instead a seemingly endless cycle of hunt, capture, and release.
In the House of the Serpent Handler offers an intimate and engrossing look at the latest generation of Pentecostal believers who “take up” venomous snakes as a test of their religious faith. Focusing on several preachers and their families in six Appalachian states, journalist Julia C. Duin explores the impact that such twenty-first-century phenomena as social media and “reality television” have had on rituals long practiced in obscurity.
As Duin reveals, the mortal snakebite suffered by pastor Mack Wolford in 2012 marked the passing of the torch to younger preachers Jamie Coots and Andrew Hamblin, who were featured in the 2013 series Snake Salvation on the National Geographic Channel. Seeing their participation in the show as a way of publicizing their faith and thus winning converts, Coots and Hamblin attempted to reinvent the snake-handling tradition for a modern audience. The use of the internet, particularly Facebook, became another key part of their strategy to spread their particular brand of Christianity. However, Coots’s own death in 2014 was widely reported after the TV series was canceled, while Hamblin, who emerges as the central figure in the book, was arrested and tried after a shooting incident involving his estranged wife. His hopes of becoming a serpent-handling superstar seemingly dashed, Hamblin spent several months in prison, emerging more determined than ever to keep to the faith. By the end of the narrative, he has begun a new church where he can pass on the tradition to yet another generation.
Duin’s thorough, sympathetic reporting and lively style bring the ecstatic church services she witnessed vividly to life, and through interviews and quotations from the principals’ Facebook postings, she has allowed them to express their beliefs and reveal their everyday lives in their own words. She also gives the reader an up-close view of how a reporter pursues a story and the various difficulties encountered along the way. Together these elements frame a striking picture: the young practitioners of a century-old custom—one so often dismissed as bizarre by outsiders—adjusting to the challenges of the new millennium.
Julia C. Duin, the former religion editor for the Washington Times, has published articles in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and other national publications. She is the author of five previous books, including, most recently, Days of Fire and Glory: The Rise and Fall of a Charismatic Community.
Pentecostals throughout Jamaica and the Jamaican diaspora use music to declare what they believe and where they stand in relation to religious and cultural outsiders. Yet the inclusion of secular music forms like ska, reggae, and dancehall complicated music's place in social and ritual practice, challenging Jamaican Pentecostals to reconcile their religious and cultural identities. Melvin Butler journeys into this crossing of boundaries and its impact on Jamaican congregations and the music they make. Using the concept of flow, Butler's ethnography evokes both the experience of Spirit-influenced performance and the transmigrations that fuel the controversial sharing of musical and ritual resources between Jamaica and the United States. Highlighting constructions of religious and cultural identity, Butler illuminates music's vital place in how the devout regulate spiritual and cultural flow while striving to maintain both the sanctity and fluidity of their evolving tradition.Insightful and original, Island Gospel tells the many stories of how music and religious experience unite to create a sense of belonging among Jamaican people of faith.
How has Pentecostalism, a decidedly American form of Christian revivalism, managed to achieve such phenomenal religious ascendancy in a former British colony among people of predominately African descent? According to Diane J. Austin-Broos, Pentecostalism has flourished because it successfully mediates between two historically central yet often oppositional themes in Jamaican religious life—the characteristically African striving for personal freedom and happiness, and the Protestant struggle for atonement and salvation through rigorous ethical piety. With its emphasis on the individual experience of grace and on the ritual efficacy of spiritual healing, and with its vibrantly expressive worship, Jamaican Pentecostalism has become a powerful and compelling vehicle for the negotiation of such fundamental issues as gender, sexuality, race, and class. Jamaica Genesis is a work of signal importance to all those concerned not simply with Caribbean studies but with the ongoing transformation of religion andculture.
In The Labor of Faith Judith Casselberry examines the material and spiritual labor of the women of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc., which is based in Harlem and one of the oldest and largest historically Black Pentecostal denominations in the United States. This male-headed church only functions through the work of the church's women, who, despite making up three-quarters of its adult membership, hold no formal positions of power. Casselberry shows how the women negotiate this contradiction by using their work to produce and claim a spiritual authority that provides them with a particular form of power. She also emphasizes how their work in the church is as significant, labor intensive, and critical to their personhood, family, and community as their careers, home and family work, and community service are. Focusing on the circumstances of producing a holy black female personhood, Casselberry reveals the ways twenty-first-century women's spiritual power operates and resonates with meaning in Pentecostal, female-majority, male-led churches.
Today 12.5 million U.S. Latinos self-identify as Protestant, and Assemblies of God is the destination for one out of four converts. Gastón Espinosa reveals the church's struggle for indigenous leadership, racial equality, women in the ministry, and immigration reform and shows why "Silent Pentacostals" are an activist voice in Evangelical politics.
In The People’s Zion, Joel Cabrita tells the transatlantic story of Southern Africa’s largest popular religious movement, Zionism. It began in Zion City, a utopian community established in 1900 just north of Chicago. The Zionist church, which promoted faith healing, drew tens of thousands of marginalized Americans from across racial and class divides. It also sent missionaries abroad, particularly to Southern Africa, where its uplifting spiritualism and pan-racialism resonated with urban working-class whites and blacks.
Circulated throughout Southern Africa by Zion City’s missionaries and literature, Zionism thrived among white and black workers drawn to Johannesburg by the discovery of gold. As in Chicago, these early devotees of faith healing hoped for a color-blind society in which they could acquire equal status and purpose amid demoralizing social and economic circumstances. Defying segregation and later apartheid, black and white Zionists formed a uniquely cosmopolitan community that played a key role in remaking the racial politics of modern Southern Africa.
Connecting cities, regions, and societies usually considered in isolation, Cabritashows how Zionists on either side of the Atlantic used the democratic resources of evangelical Christianity to stake out a place of belonging within rapidly-changing societies. In doing so, they laid claim to nothing less than the Kingdom of God. Today, the number of American Zionists is small, but thousands of independent Zionist churches counting millions of members still dot the Southern African landscape.
After an explosion of conversions to Pentecostalism over the past three decades, tens of millions of Nigerians now claim that “Jesus is the answer.” But if Jesus is the answer, what is the question? What led to the movement’s dramatic rise and how can we make sense of its social and political significance? In this ambitiously interdisciplinary study, Ruth Marshall draws on years of fieldwork and grapples with a host of important thinkers—including Foucault, Agamben, Arendt, and Benjamin—to answer these questions.
To account for the movement’s success, Marshall explores how Pentecostalism presents the experience of being born again as a chance for Nigerians to realize the promises of political and religious salvation made during the colonial and postcolonial eras. Her astute analysis of this religious trend sheds light on Nigeria’s contemporary politics, postcolonial statecraft, and the everyday struggles of ordinary citizens coping with poverty, corruption, and inequality.
Pentecostalism’s rise is truly global, and Political Spiritualities persuasively argues that Nigeria is a key case in this phenomenon while calling for new ways of thinking about the place of religion in contemporary politics.
In Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform, McLoughlin draws on psychohistory, sociology, and anthropology to examine the relationship between America's five great religious awakenings and their influence on five great movements for social reform in the United States. He finds that awakenings (and the revivals that are part of them) are periods of revitalization born in times of cultural stress and eventuating in drastic social reform. Awakenings are thus the means by which a people or nation creates and sustains its identity in a changing world.
"This book is sensitive, thought-provoking and stimulating. It is 'must' reading for those interested in awakenings, and even though some may not revise their views as a result of McLoughlin's suggestive outline, none can remain unmoved by the insights he has provided on the subject."—Christian Century
"This is one of the best books I have read all year. Professor McLoughlin has again given us a profound analysis of our culture in the midst of revivalistic trends."—Review and Expositor
The Rise to Respectability documents the history of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and examines its cultural and religious impact on African Americans and on the history of the South. It explores the ways in which Charles Harrison Mason, the son of slaves and founder of COGIC, embraced a Pentecostal faith that celebrated the charismatic forms of religious expression that many blacks had come to view as outdated, unsophisticated, and embarrassing.
While examining the intersection of race, religion, and class, The Rise to Respectability details how the denomination dealt with the stringent standard of bourgeois behavior imposed on churchgoers as they moved from southern rural areas into the urban centers in both the South and North.
Rooted in the hardships of slavery and coming of age during Jim Crow, COGIC’s story is more than a religious debate. Rather, this book sees the history of the church as interwoven with the Great Migration, class tension, racial animosity, and the struggle for modernity—all representative parts of the African American experience.
Pentecostalism is currently the fastest-growing Christian movement, with hundreds of millions of followers. This growth overwhelmingly takes place outside of the West, and women make up 75 percent of the membership. The contributors to Spirit on the Move examine Pentecostalism's appeal to black women worldwide and the ways it provides them with a source of community and access to power. Exploring a range of topics, from Neo-Pentecostal churches in Ghana that help women challenge gender norms to evangelical gospel musicians in Brazil, the contributors show how Pentecostalism helps black women draw attention to and seek remediation from the violence and injustices brought on by civil war, capitalist exploitation, racism, and the failures of the state. In fleshing out the experiences, theologies, and innovations of black women Pentecostals, the contributors show how Pentecostal belief and its various practices reflect the movement's complexity, reach, and adaptability to specific cultural and political formations.
Contributors. Paula Aymer, John Burdick, Judith Casselberry, Deidre Helen Crumbley, Elizabeth McAlister, Laura Premack, Elizabeth A. Pritchard, Jane Soothill, Linda van de Kamp
Pentecostal serpent handlers, also known as Signs Followers, hold a literal interpretation of a verse in the New Testament’s Gospel of Mark which states that, among other abilities, true believers shall be able to “take up serpents.” For more than a century members of this uniquely Appalachian religious tradition have handled venomous snakes during their worship services, risking death as evidence of their unwavering faith. Despite scores of deaths from snakebite and the closure of numerous churches in recent decades, there remains a small contingent of serpent handlers devoted to keeping the practice alive.
Who are the serpent handlers? What motivates them to continue their potentially lethal practices through the generations? Documentary photographer Lauren Pond traveled to West Virginia in search of answers to these questions. There she met Pastor Randy “Mack” Wolford, one of the best-known Signs Following preachers in the region, and spent the following year documenting Mack and his family. The course of her work changed dramatically in May 2012, when Mack, then forty-four years old, suffered a fatal rattlesnake bite during a worship service she attended. Pond photographed the events that followed and has continued her relationship with Mack’s family.
Test of Faith provides a deeply nuanced, personal look at serpent handling that not only invites greater understanding of a religious practice that has long faced derision and criticism; it also serves as a meditation on the photographic process, its ethics, and its capacity to generate empathy.
Published by Duke University Press and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University
In 1906, William J. Seymour (1870–1922) preached Pentecostal revival at the Azusa Street mission in Los Angeles. From these and other humble origins the movement has blossomed to 631 million people around the world. Gastón Espinosa provides new insight into the life and ministry of Seymour, the Azusa Street revival, and Seymour's influence on global Pentecostal origins. After defining key terms and concepts, he surveys the changing interpretations of Seymour over the past 100 years, critically engages them in a biography, and then provides an unparalleled collection of primary sources, all in a single volume. He pays particular attention to race relations, Seymour's paradigmatic global influence from 1906 to 1912, and the break between Seymour and Charles Parham, another founder of Pentecostalism. Espinosa's fragmentation thesis argues that the Pentecostal propensity to invoke direct unmediated experiences with the Holy Spirit empowers ordinary people to break the bottle of denominationalism and to rapidly indigenize and spread their message.
The 104 primary sources include all of Seymour's extant writings in full and without alteration and some of Parham's theological, social, and racial writings, which help explain why the two parted company. To capture the revival's diversity and global influence, this book includes Black, Latino, Swedish, and Irish testimonies, along with those of missionaries and leaders who spread Seymour's vision of Pentecostalism globally.