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No Caller ID for the Soul: Demonization, Charisms, and the Unstable Subject of Protestant Language Ideology

From: Anthropological Quarterly
Volume 84, Number 3, Summer 2011
pp. 679-703 | 10.1353/anq.2011.0034



The ethnography of Christianity has only one area where a sort of Khunian "normal science" has been achieved: Christian Language practices has been agreed on as a topic of vital and sustained ethnographic interest, and is usually understood analytically as being shaped by a referentially oriented, individuating "Christian [or, at times, Protestant] Language Ideology." Relying on a review of the ethnographic literature regarding Christian Language use, and on an impromptu deliverance from demons observed during fieldwork with "The Vineyard," a Southern California originated but now world-wide Church Planting movement, this article argues that such an understanding is not wrong, but only partially apprehends the relevant dynamics of language use. This piece posits that Christian language use can be understood by delineating two sharply contrasting, but both valued, forms of speech—"centripetal" and "centrifugal"—each of which has different implicit concerns about the importance of self-identity and the sorts of boundaries that comprise the ethical subject.