Pathways to Heaven: Contesting Mainline and Fundamentalist Christianity in Papua New Guinea
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How does global Christianity relate to processes of globalisation and modernization and what form does it take in different local settings? These questions have lately proved to be of increasing interest to many scholars in the social sciences and humanities. This study examines the tensions, antagonisms and outright confrontations that can occur within local Christian communities upon the arrival of global versions of fundamentalism and it does so through a rich and in-depth ethnographic study of a single case: that of Pairundu, a small and remote Papua New Guinean village whose population accepted Catholicism, after first being contacted in the late 1950s, and subsequently participated in a charismatic movement, before more and more members of the younger generation started to separate themselves from their respective catholic families and to convert to one of the most radical and fastest growing religious groups not only in contemporary Papua New Guinea but world-wide: the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
This case study of local Christianity as a lived religion contributes to an understanding of the social and cultural dynamics that increasingly incite and shape religious conflicts on a global scale.
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