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«Pastures of Plenty»: Tracing Religio-Scapes of Prosperity Gospel in Africa and Beyond

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Edited By Andreas Heuser

Prosperity Gospel, a controversial strand in global Christianity, relates material wealth to divine blessing. Originating in American Pentecostal milieus, it is most successful in Africa. Authors from four continents present interdisciplinary, multi-sited and comparative analyses of Prosperity Gospel in Africa and beyond. Prosperity theologies adapt to varied political contexts and travel outside Pentecostalism into the wider religious arena. Its components trigger discourses within ecumenical Christianity and are transformed in transnational Christian networks of migrants; they turn up in African shrine religion and African Islam. Pastures of Plenty maps the evolving religio-scapes of Prosperity Gospel.
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Are Blessings for Sale? Ritual Exchange, Witchcraft Allegations, and the De-alienation of Money in Tanzanian Prosperity Ministries

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← 308 | 309 → Martin Lindhardt

Abstract Based on long term ethnographic research, this article explores how the Prosperity Gospel has taken root in Iringa, a regional sub-capital in south central Tanzania. While the appeal of the Prosperity Gospel is beyond dispute, I argue that this kind of Christianity also creates a couple of challenges to itself. The first is the failure of promises of economic blessings to materialize. The second challenge is an inbuilt risk that the relationship between Christians and God becomes contractual and conceived of in purely instrumentalist, impersonal and economic cost/benefit terms. I argue that the Prosperity Gospel has gained ground within Iringa´s religious landscape not only by offering people spiritual assistance in their search for wealth, but also by addressing widespread concerns regarding the legitimate and the potentially dangerous sources of wealth. Drawing on anthropological studies of different spheres of exchange I demonstrate how a set of ritual strategies are deployed in order to de-alienate money, thus separating it from the impersonal market sphere in which it mostly circulates and allowing it to enter into another sphere. Finally, I argue that holistic conceptions of wealth and the emphasis on the cultural values of slowness and transparency enable Pentecostals to come to terms with the absence or delay of material blessings.

Among the many and complex reasons for the explosive growth of Pentecostal Christianity all over Sub- Saharan Africa within the last four decades, the increasing dominance of the so-called Prosperity Gospel gains...

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