'In God's hands': Pentecostal Christianity, morality, and illness in a Melanesian society

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    In preparation for the imminent end of the world, converts to new evangelical forms of Christianity among the Lelet of New Ireland must practise constant self-scrutiny and self-discipline. Previously wrongdoing was unproblematic if concealed; now signs of sin are keenly sought in self and others. Illness, as God's punishment, is a significant sign of sin. To be cured, the ill must be scrupulously virtuous - thus doubly introspective. This accent on moral agency makes illness a source of public and internalized shame, intensifying an impetus towards a new form of conscience. Illnesses and deaths undergo a tortuous process of evaluation, in the light of competing traditional, biomedical, and new religious views. The new has not swept away the old; rather, change is incorporated in ways that are difficult to predict. The development of an internalized conscience in Lelet converts, though theoretically likely, cannot be taken for granted.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)496-514
    JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
    Volume16
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

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