Politics as a Vocation: Prayer, Civic Engagement and the Gendered Re-Enchantment of the City
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AbstractDrawing upon extensive oral history interviews and long scale participantobservation in two London churches, an ethnically diverse Catholic parish inCanning Town and a predominantly West-African Pentecostal congregationin Peckham, this article compares and contrasts differing Christian expressionsand understandings of ‘civic engagement’ and gendered articulations of laysocial ‘ministry’ through prayer, religious praxis and local politics. Throughcommunity organizing and involvement in the third sector, but also throughspiritual activities like the ‘Catholic Prayer Ministry’ and ‘deliverance’, Catholicsand Pentecostals are shown to be re-mapping London – a city ripe for reversemission – through contesting ‘secularist’ and implicitly gendered distinctionsbetween the public and private/domestic, and the spiritual and political. Greaterscholarly appreciation of these subjective understandings of civic engagementand social activism is important for fully recognizing the agency of lay people,and particularly women often marginalized in church-based and institutionalhierarchies, in articulating and actuating their call to Christian citizenship andthe (re)sacralization of the city.
Religion and Gender 3(1), 22-41 (2013)