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The kingdom and its subjects : charisms, language, economy, and the birth of a progressive politics in the vineyard

  • Author(s): Bialecki, Jon
  • et al.
Abstract

This dissertation, based on fieldwork performed in Southern California churches and small prayer meetings, uses ethnographic description of quotidian devotional, communicative, and economic practices, as well as a depiction of an emerging progressive politics, as an entry -point to the question of the formal constitution of the subject in the Vineyard, a Southern California originated but now world-wide Neo-Charismatic church-planting movement. Starting with the founding of the Vineyard in the early nineteen-eighties, this project traces out how the Vineyard attempted to meld together Evangelical and Pentecostal models of religious practice. These two forms of religiosity value separate and to a considerable degree incommensurable stances towards the questions of divine alterity - Pentecostal modes favor a participation at the level of interiorized immanence with an otherwise transcendent God, while Evangelical-inflected practice consists of a fiduciary submission to a divinity who is conceived as being exterior to one's self. This dissertation argues that in the Vineyard these two forms, rather than melding together in a form of intra-Christian syncretism, continue to exist side-by-side in what Slavoj Žižek would call a "parallax," and that the resulting tension between these two forms not only explains the dynamics of much of the Vineyard's current practices, but also serves to complicate the existing explanatory framing of language ideology, hermeneutics, theories of temporality, exchange theory, and political thought as currently presented in much of the contemporary anthropology of Christianity.

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