Kirsch, “Intangible Motion”

Kirsch, Thomas.  2014.  “Intangible Motion: Notes on the Morphology and Mobility of the Holy Spirit.”  In, The Social Life of Spirits, edited by Ruy Blanes and Diana Espirito Santo, 33-51.

Excerpt: Recent anthropological studies on pneumatic churches oscillate between a fascination with the emphasis in these churches on the located (embodied) immanence of the Divine and the observation that pneumatic forms of Christianity have massively grown in popularity and turned into a religious movement of global proportions.  the latter is most pronounced in work on the globalization of Pentecostalism (e.g. Anderson 2004; Cox 1996; Martin 2002; Meyer 2004; Robbins 2004), which not only foregrounds the role of modern mass communication and mass organization in creating (imagined) Pentecostal communities but also emphasizes the circulation of Pentecostal messages across continents, more particularly, the spatial diffusion of “ideas, media products, preachers, and believers” (Meyer 2010, 120).

However, astonishingly, neither Andre Drooger’s (2001) reminder that Pentecostalism’s expansion should be explained not solely with reference to external circumstances but also with regard to its internal religious characteristics nor the emergent interest by anthropologists in Christian pneumatology (cf. Maxwell 2012) has led to a detailed empirical assessment and thorough theoretical reflection of the ways in which the “global portability of pneumatic Christianities… depends… on the portability of the Holy Spirit and the spirits it battles, on their fluidity and capacity to circulate through flexible transnational church and immigrant networks” (Vasquez 2009, 280)…