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Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua by Joel Robbins

By Joel Robbins

In a global of rapid and sweeping cultural changes, few have visible alterations as speedy and dramatic as these skilled by way of the Urapmin of Papua New Guinea within the final 4 many years. A distant humans by no means at once "missionized," the Urapmin started within the Nineteen Sixties to ship younger males to check with Baptist missionaries dwelling between neighboring groups. by way of the overdue Seventies, the Urapmin had passed through a charismatic revival, forsaking their conventional faith for a Christianity intensely serious about human sinfulness and pushed via a continuing experience of millennial expectation. Exploring the Christian tradition of the Urapmin, Joel Robbins indicates how its preoccupations supply keys to realizing the character of cultural swap extra quite often. In so doing, he bargains one of many richest on hand anthropological bills of Christianity as a lived faith. Theoretically bold and engagingly written, his publication opens a different viewpoint on a Melanesian society, non secular adventure, and the very nature of fast cultural change.

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Additional info for Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society (Ethnographic Studies in Subjectivity, 4)

Sample text

I discuss the Min regional ritual system and Urapmin morality and social structure extensively in other parts of this book. But because they are so important to its argument, a brief introduction to them here will help to orient the analyses that follow. It also allows me to introduce the geography of the Min region and some of the basic elements of the way the Urapmin are organized both socially and in space. The physical layout of Min country provides the map on which the traditional regional ritual system was laid out (see map 1).

It also allows me to introduce the geography of the Min region and some of the basic elements of the way the Urapmin are organized both socially and in space. The physical layout of Min country provides the map on which the traditional regional ritual system was laid out (see map 1). In this system, each group possessed its own rituals, sacra, and bodies of sacred knowledge. Every group’s rituals, sacra, and bodies of knowledge were necessary to the successful operation of the system. But each group’s endowments were also ranked relative to the others, such that the rituals, sacra, and sacred knowledge of some groups were important to the fertility (including both agricultural success and the growth of boys into warriors) of the whole region, and those of other groups were primarily important in ensuring their own fertility.

Inasmuch as Urapmin social structure motivated their sensitivity to moral issues, it played a role in providing the terms in which they understood the humiliations of the colonial era. As important to my argument, however, is the way it also made it possible for the Urapmin to respond so quickly and successfully to those humiliations; for it is one thing to want to change and another to succeed in doing so. A brief sketch of Urapmin social structure will make clear the way it facilitated the project of change the Urapmin undertook.

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