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Here, it would seem that the Pentecostals articulate a global template that is about fear of abusive connectivity and fear that invisible evil forces are inclined to follow lines of communication opened up by new technologies. The technologies are merely shells for hidden occult forces, and the Christian mobilization against this form of connectivity is now just as global as the multinational companies that develop the technologies. In Melanesia, there are many references to the inherent moral perils in new technologies, but it is perhaps not the technologies themselves or the companies behind them that are demonized to the same degree.
This may be because there is a less developed culture of consumerism.
Brands are very limited—many are Chinese or Australian products—and their importance in consumer desire is mostly limited to fulfilling kinship network obligations rather than individual consumption. Even in urban places like Port Vila , Honiara, or Port Moresby , the standard tins of beer, cartons of cigarettes, bags of rice, or shorts and t-shirts figure as currencies that certainly have an exchange value, but they do not come with the phantasmagorical promise of individual pleasure, future happiness, or self-fulfillment that has become normal in consumerist worlds.
In the Trobriand Islands, technology and material possessions may be a source of envy , with Trobriand witches perhaps representing the moral perils of individual consumption, but the main issue with witches is that they hinder productivity. This includes prayer groups, open-air preaching, and a focus on productive responsibilities to the nuclear family, and the church community. For witches, it is taboo to touch a broom or coconut husks used for cleaning saucepans or making fires for cooking , thus indicating that they are immune to the normal work that women do.
Tidiness, productivity, order, and female beauty are central qualities in the Pentecostal church and qualities that are resisted by witches. Witches in the Trobriands used to be anonymous and had hidden relational capacities. Now, women may suddenly start confessing inside Pentecostal churches—admitting that they are hiding witchcraft capacities inside their body.
By confessing and clearing the place taken up by the witch creature, they leave this space to Jesus. The attention, then, is on the convergence of faith and financial success Newell , p. The relationship between sorcery and the economy is also the concern of Knut Myhre in Chap. He describes how Chagga-speaking people in Tanzania understand the phenomenon of the albino murders that have become a national concern in recent years. According to news reports albinos are targeted for their body parts, which are used in witchcraft to bring people good luck.
Body parts, and especially albino body parts, have become part of an informal economy, portrayed in the media as a perverted trade. A severed arm found outside a church is discussed as a case in point, and Myhre demonstrates that the arm features in church discourse not as a commodity but in the transformed capacity of a body part that is central in the circuity of the life force.
In witchcraft the arm is turned against the circuity of life. The difference between Catholics and Pentecostals in this area lies in their respective ways of tapping into this circuity of dwelling and life. Whereas Catholics envelop witchcraft and turn it around through their ceremonies, Pentecostals, as well as politicians and the state, wish to detach witchcraft from life-processes altogether because it is regarded as an evil interference.
Detailed spiritual maps were essential. The same occurs in the most remote corners of Melanesia. A successor of this was Operation Joshua, which took place in Telefolmin using a template for a spiritualized geographical space, a cartographic imagery, and a view of a military-like operation of spiritual cleansing , p.
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Jorgensen draws on the work of Meyer and Robbins to state that Pentecostal Christianity is alternating between world-breaking and world-making. By choosing the Telefolmin ancestral house as a site for spiritual warfare, Operation Joshua restored the centrality of Telefolmin ritual knowledge, but by destroying the home of the ancestral cult. In this way, Telefolmin could recapture their centrality in the universe—placing it back on the spiritual map, so to speak.
Thus, it is not necessarily the past that is at issue, but rather the main regimes of social control. When society is governed by ritual forms, shamans, oracles, or kinship-based leadership, this is targeted as demonic by the Pentecostals. In different settings modern technologies, capitalist companies, or government policies may be the new targets see Pype, this volume.
Across Melanesia, recent years have seen the demonization of museums and ancestral cultural heritage, but also demonization of foreign missionaries and state agencies. During the presidential election in Vanuatu in , Pentecostal pastors joined hands to protect the city of Port Vila from malign forces. In Chap.
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The outcome of this at the household level is that they are now physically fenced in and protected from foreign malevolent influences, symbolizing the constant spiritual struggle that goes on inside. In such a situation where the person, the household, and the nation are sites of invasive forces, spiritual mapping and detailed modes of governance are potent.
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This is world-breaking, in the sense that such activities cut social life into manageable and compartmental domains, with clear boundaries between person and person, between yards and houses, and between communities. This form of urban spiritual campaign is also closely linked to the spiritual cleansing that Tom Bratrud in Chap.
During an intensive period in , the entire Christian congregation of the small island of Ahamb in Vanuatu came out of their church building and besieged every corner of their island in order to drive out demons and evil spirits. It culminated in a witch hunt, where people of the congregation ganged up on accused witches, and in the end killed them by hanging them in the community hall. For places like Port Vila or Telefolmin, Kinshasa or Luanda , this means that Pentecostalism is omnipresent: its activities are about cleaning, dividing, dissecting, observing, and healing.
It performs pervasive rituals for transforming and separating good from evil, clean from unclean, and seeks to create people who are protected from bad spiritual influences. Spiritual warfare is a form of ritual practice wherein the person, the neighborhood, or even the nation is continually defended and protected against alien invasion. This also means that Pentecostalism tends to overflow the boundaries between different forms of Christianity and between religion and everyday practice and forms of life see Eriksen et al.
This observation is further elaborated upon in Chap. Andersen does not connect this to Pentecostalism as a religious doctrine but demonstrates how the Pentecostal faith and participation in it becomes an alternative space of belonging for the nurses, who live away from home in order to work in health institutions in rural areas.
In their mediation between largely autonomous rural communities and an increasingly distanced state, their Pentecostal vision transcends place-boundedness: hence, they are also able to transcend local understandings of sorcery and witchcraft. Koen Stroeken in Chap. His research background in traditional healing brings him to perceive Pentecostalism to be particularly influential in terms of certain cosmological and social practices. Like Myhre, Stroeken deals with the logic of the break that Pentecostals make with witchcraft. Whereas Myhre located this as a break with the circuity of life forces, Stroeken points to the Pentecostal tendency to collapse what were previously multiple frames of existence and cosmology.
Stroeken describes how, for instance, healer and witch are part of the same frame for Pentecostals, since they treat magic , bewitchment, divination , ritual sacrifice, and spirit possession as belonging to one domain. Even though peril is inherently inside the person and inside society, it is still Other and alien. Importantly, it also involves keeping this realm close but separate.
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In the chapters that follow we observe that Pentecostalism puts in place a particular form of governance or social ordering. Whereas state forms of governance, such as policing or schooling, stop short of powers to regulate the social life of households or the inner person—except through direct attack, violence , and destruction—the often rhizomatic forms of Pentecostal spiritual campaigns gain direct access.
A further hypothesis might also be suggested—that Pentecostalism, in these moral governance campaigns, runs up against other forms of governance, and that the ensuing friction creates a lot of the social energy and heat that we see in the Pentecostal churches. Pentecostals see it as a counterforce to dwelling and the circuity of life, to draw on Myhre, and they pursue witchcraft in the domain of dwelling in order to banish it, cast it out, and destroy it.
Witchcraft seeks out life forces and vital substances and it strikes down relations of intimacy, to the extent that Pentecostalism sets itself up in that same realm in social life—by, in a sense, following witchcraft into its domain of intimacy and social relations. Pentecostalism thereby becomes a form of presence in social life that populates anew the space of witchcraft.
This is simultaneously a way of taking hold of the person and making her into a different person: a productive versus a destructive person; an arduous and laborious person; a person aware and conscious of, and perceptive about, the future of the community and her family. Pentecostal witchcraft in this case is a new regime of witchcraft that overturns the social life of the Trobriands as we know it as a classic case in anthropology.
The epigraph to this chapter is drawn from Arnold , p. Skip to main content Skip to sections. Advertisement Hide.