The Thomas Souls Ministry - onto-praxis, dividualism, and charismatic Catholicism at Lake Chambri, Papua New Guinea

Falck, Christiane (2019) The Thomas Souls Ministry - onto-praxis, dividualism, and charismatic Catholicism at Lake Chambri, Papua New Guinea. Oceania, 89 (3). pp. 301-315.

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Abstract

The Thomas Souls Ministry is a prayer group founded by Catholics from the middle Sepik. It is led by a spirit of the dead called Thomas who takes possession of a Nyaura (West Iatmul) woman to preach, prophesy, counsel, and heal. While a prominent debate within the Anthropology of Christianity argues for radical change and rupture with the pre-Christian self and society, I suggest that continuity within change is found in the way my interlocutors have made Christianity their own. I argue that the local concept of the person defined by aspects of dividualism and reflecting ontological premises of people's lifeworld has strongly influenced the way Christianity was appropriated. In current religious practices people put these premises into action and reinforce them in intersubjective encounters with the divine other. Analysing people's 'onto-praxis', I argue that the Thomas Souls Ministry can be understood as part of a re-empowerment process that re-appropriates local meanings, spirits, and practices despite, and in fact against, the influence of the Catholic mission proselytizing in the region.

Item ID: 61008
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1834-4461
Keywords: religious change, Christianity, dividual, personhood, ontology, Sepik, spirits
Copyright Information: © 2019 Oceania Publications.
Funders: James Cook University (JCU), Moesgaard Museum
Projects and Grants: JCU Postgraduate Prestige Scholarship
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2019 07:40
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology @ 100%
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