Anthropology of Religious Conversion by Andrew Buckser, Stephen D. Glazier

By Andrew Buckser, Stephen D. Glazier

The Anthropology of non secular Conversion paints an image of conversion way more complicated than its well-known snapshot in anthropology and non secular reports. Conversion is particularly seldom easily a unexpected second of perception or proposal; it's a swap either one of person cognizance and of social belonging, of psychological perspective and of actual adventure, whose unfolding relies either on its cultural surroundings and at the special people who suffer it. The e-book explores spiritual conversion in various cultural settings and considers how anthropological methods will help us comprehend the phenomenon. Fourteen case stories span historic and geographical contexts, together with the modern usa, smooth and medieval Europe, and non-western societies in South Asia, Melanesia, and South the USA. They speak about conversion to Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and Spiritualism. Combining ethnographic description with theoretical research, authors reflect on the character and that means of conversion, its social and political dimensions, and its dating to person non secular event.

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22 Such action takes on many different referents of meaning. On a personal level, it can imply the adoption of a bold and entrepreneurial character that is not regarded as conventionally Swedish and that is sometimes criticized by outsiders as being typically American. It also implies a criticism of other, older denominations that have let the revivalist spirit die down and become not just institutionalized but also too introverted. More broadly, the Faith rhetoric of outreach can be read as denying the possibility of limiting ambition in cultural, economic, or even political terms, or of submitting to Swedish state bureaucracy.

Testimonies from revival meetings and reports from missionaries talk of how thousands of people are being saved in Sweden and abroad. Although, admittedly, brains are not perceived as being “washed,” these believers do talk of minds, souls, and spirits being “renewed” by the acceptance of Jesus as Lord? ”6 Conversion as an event and as a practice is regularly articulated by Word of Lifers: through the prayer formulae suggested to nonbelievers that can be deployed as easy-to-use recipes for self-con~ersion;~ through altar calls at the ends of services; through radio and television programs, audiocassettes, videos, and websites that apparently reach out to the unsaved; and through numerous accounts of conversions located in personal testimonies, missionary reports, and so on.

Flinn (1999: 58) criticizes the view that charismatic conversion essentially involves an instantaneous event, and he mentions in evidence the period of “suspension’’ or indecision that may precede the event itself. Such periods are also common among new converts to the Word of Life. Continuous Conversion? 25 9. There are parallels here with analyses of overseas missions that emphasize the need to focus on missionaries as well as the missionized (Comaroff 1985). 10. There may be parallels here with the chapter in this book by Glazier (chapter 12) looking at conversion as a syncretist, ambiguous process.

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