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Studies in Social Analysis
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Straying from the Straight Path
How Senses of Failure Invigorate Lived Religion
Edited by Daan Beekers and David Kloos
146 pages, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78533-713-0 $95.00/£68.00 Hb Published (October 2017)
eISBN 978-1-78533-714-7 eBook
“Straying from the Straight Path is a timely and theoretically sophisticated book on an important topic in the contemporary anthropology of religion and ethics. By looking at ethical perfection and failure in dialectical interaction, it provides a much-needed theoretical mediation of a heretofore fractious issue in the anthropology of religious ethics.” • American Ethnologist
“This rich collection of ethnographic studies of failure goes a long way in moving anthropological accounts of ethical and religious life beyond false dichotomies, including the very distinction between failure and success itself.” • Michael Lambek, Canada Research Chair University of Toronto Scarborough
If piety, faith, and conviction constitute one side of the religious coin, then imperfection, uncertainty, and ambivalence constitute the other. Yet, scholars tend to separate these two domains and place experiences of inadequacy in everyday religious life – such as a wavering commitment, religious negligence or weakness in faith – outside the domain of religion ‘proper.’
Straying from the Straight Path breaks with this tendency by examining how self-perceived failure is, in many cases, part and parcel of religious practice and experience. Responding to the need for comparative approaches in the face of the largely separated fields of the anthropology of Islam and Christianity, this volume gives full attention to moral failure as a constitutive and potentially energizing force in the religious lives of both Muslims and Christians in different parts of the world.
Daan Beekers is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies of Utrecht University. He is trained as an anthropologist at the universities of Amsterdam and Oxford and obtained his PhD in anthropology from VU University Amsterdam.
David Kloos is a researcher at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) in Leiden, The Netherlands. He is the author of Becoming Better Muslims: Religious Authority and Ethical Improvement in Aceh, Indonesia (Princeton University Press, forthcoming).
Subject: General Anthropology Religion
Introduction: The Productive Potential of Moral Failure in Lived Islam and Christianity
David Kloos and Daan Beekers
Chapter 1. In What Does Failure Succeed? Conceptions of Sin and the Role of Human Moral Vulnerability in Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity
Joel Robbins and Leanne Williams Green
Chapter 2. “I’m a Weak Servant”: The Question of Sincerity and the Cultivation of Weakness in the Lives of Dutch Salafi Muslims
Martijn de Koning
Chapter 3. Success, Risk and Failure: The Brazilian Prosperity Gospel in Mozambique
Linda van de Kamp
Chapter 4. Fitting God in: Secular Routines, Prayer and Deceleration among Young Dutch Muslims and Christians
Chapter 5. The Ethics of Not-Praying: Religious Negligence, Life Phase and Social Status in Aceh, Indonesia
Chapter 6. Moral Failure, Everyday Religion and Islamic Authorization
Epilogue: Religion, Lived Religion and the ‘Authenticity’ of Failure
Mattijs van de Port
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