Passports to Eternity: Whales' Teeth and Transcendence in Fijian Methodism

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Christianity is often considered a religion of transcendence, in which divinity “goes beyond” human space and time. Recent anthropological scholarship has noted, however, that claims to transcendence must be expressed materially. This chapter examines the ways in which Fijian Methodists attempt to achieve a kind of Christian transcendence in which they escape negative influences of the vanua (land, chiefdoms, and the “traditional” order generally). They do so by offering sperm whales’ teeth to church authorities in order to apologise and atone for the sins of ancestors. Such rituals do not achieve the transcendence they aim for, however, as the whales’ teeth-the material tokens offered to gain divine favour-gain their ritual value precisely because of their attachment to the vanua.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationFlows of Faith: Religious Reach and Community in Asia and the Pacific
    Editors Lenore Manderson, Wendy Smith and Matt Tomlinson
    Place of PublicationDordrecht Heidelberg London New York
    PublisherSpringer Science + Business Media
    ISBN (Print)9789400729315
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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