In collective worship and in their everyday lives, religious believers continually fuse together the ideas and practices they encounter in their community and society, in their places of worship, and in their personal experiences of the divine. This dissertation, based on six years of engaged, intensive ethnography with a community of Pentecostal believers in the southern United States, flows from the proposition that people’s individual religious identities are not simply products of their faith community. Rather, religious people constantly negotiate individual and communal religious identities, and both are continually changing as they shape one another in dynamic relationship. In this work, three spaces of religious practice serve as lenses through which to view religious identity production. The first, music and musical worship, offers a perspective on the crucial role of music in the church and its often transformative role in individual and collective identity formation. The second, a creative effort at evangelistic outreach through drama ministry, presents an opportunity to look at the choices a body of believers makes in order to present itself and its vision of Christian life to the surrounding community, and at the ways that individual and group identities change, conflict, and grow through collective creativity. The third space of religious practice, entrances and exits from the church community, invites a closer examination of the ways that relationships between individual and communal religious identities are built and dismantled, and the ways that identities are formed as narrative constructions. All of these spaces of practice and identity production take shape between the individual, the social, and the divine, as believers continually take into account their relationships not only with other believers and non-believers, but also with God and lesser supernatural agents. Taking seriously these believers’ accounts and insights reveals understandings of the everyday process of building religious identities that have much in common with complex social theories of identity and everyday life, but are in some ways broader and more holistic.
|Advisor:||Hinson, Glenn D.|
|Commitee:||Hinson, Glenn D., Holland, Dorothy C., Peacock, James L., Skinner, Debra, Wacker, Grant|
|School:||The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill|
|School Location:||United States -- North Carolina|
|Source:||DAI-A 71/06, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Religion, American studies, Cultural anthropology|
|Keywords:||Church, Drama, Drama ministry, Identity, Living religion, Music, Musical worship, Pentecostalism, Practice|
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