Friday, October 6, 2006

Reform anthropology while it's still legal

Posted By on 10.06.06 at 09:00 PM

Didja ever try to measure the circumference of a circle with a yardstick?  That seems to be the problem with anthropologists studying Christianity.

"Christian ideas of time and belief emphasize radical discontinuities both in people's experience (at conversion) and in world history (at Jesus' birth and at his second coming), while anthropologists have always stressed the continuity of cultural traditions over time," says University of California, San Diego, anthropologist Joel Robbins in this press release.  (The article on which it's based is in Current Anthropology's December issue, published by the University of Chicago Press, abstracts only available without $$ and not up yet anyway.)  "Christian converts tend to represent the process of becoming a Christian as one of radical change.  One does not evolve into a convert."

Actually, one might -- don't conversion narratives often show various preparations and foreshadowings?  But whatever.  Any discipline that can't think about discontinuities (real or perceived) without its head exploding is about as useful as a suntan in a blizzard. 

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