‘Stories, senses and the charismatic relation’: a reflexive exploration of Christian experience

Barnes, Jamie Wallis (2015) ‘Stories, senses and the charismatic relation’: a reflexive exploration of Christian experience. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

[img] PDF - Published Version
Download (1MB)

Abstract

This thesis considers the world of Christian faith, as expressed by a particular social group of which I have been a part since 1998, as an alternative knowledge system. Focusing upon the lives of a number of key agents, including myself, I argue that at the heart of this knowledge system is a charismatic relationship, in the Weberian sense, with a divine Other. This relationship is freely entered into, is conceived as involving movement into or towards an embodied experiential and relational knowledge of God, and is often expressed by participants through such metaphors as a ‘journey’, ‘adventure’ or ‘quest’. My original contribution to knowledge is in taking a sociological concept, Weber’s notion of the charismatic relation, and innovatively applying this framework to the relation between humans and a transcendent or disembodied ‘Other’. My work responds to a) recent ‘ontological’ challenges within anthropology to ‘take seriously’ other worlds, b) invitations to those with strong religious convictions to practise anthropology without feeling that they need to lose those convictions, and c) recent debates within the anthropology of Christianity concerning how to deal with the agential characteristics of non-human/spiritual beings within ethnographic work. Through a reflexive exploration of experience, I examine how certain Christian people constitute their lives, observing how charismatic devotion to a divine Other implies both a sensorium that extends beyond the corporeal senses, as well as the ‘planting’ of various conceptual seeds that, by providing concrete metaphors of what life is, shape the lives of those willing to ‘receive’ them. As social actors seek to maintain ‘openness’ to this divine Other, a transformational journey results, in which human perception and conception are continually open to renewal. As a reflexive ethnographic account from within such an alternative knowledge system, this thesis makes an original contribution to phenomenological and sensory studies, as well as contributing to anthropological work on Christianity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion. Mythology. Rationalism > BL0624 Religious life
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2015 09:50
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2015 09:50
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/58054

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update