Friday, April 28, 2006

100 years -- or is it 2000? -- of Pentacostalism

As I type, I'm listening to a fascinating discussion of Pentacostalism -- a 100 year old movement that now includes 500,000 of the 2 billion Christians in the world -- with Krista Tippett on Minnesota Public Radio's Mid-morning program. Here's a link that should take you to where you can listen for yourself, and to links to other background information. (I'm not sure how long this link will survive, but MPR keeps an archive of its programs and it would be available somewhere on its site with a little looking.)

If there was one word of the discussion that kept coming back again and again, it was "power." It would be hard for a Quaker to listen to this program and ask, "Why does this all sound so familiar?" It was for this one, anyway.

One of many insights she shared is that she is confident that the growth of Pentacostalism in Latin America is intimately connected with the political turn to the left in many countries in that region. (Not there, alas.) (I liked the joke she repeated: The Catholic Church has a preference for the poor, but the poor preferred Pentacostalism.) She connects it to the Power that Pentacostalism brings to its adherents, most of whom were previously disenfranchised. She also articulates the often misunderstood distinctions between Pentacostals and fundamentalists and evangelicals.

I've been a big fan of Krista Tippett's for as long as her program, Speaking of Faith has been on the air and I highly recommend it to all. (I only wish it didn't overlap with our preparation for going to meeting on Sunday mornings. . . . but I can hear it again on Sunday evenings at 9.)

Added a little later: Simultaneously with this post, and without prior consultation, Kwakersaur posted a very thoughtful essay on Pentacostalism and Quakerism that goes a lot deeper into the subject and points out very important differences.


Robin M. said...

Here is a link to a helpful article about Pentecostals, from Christianity Today, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Azuza Street Revivial.

About 15 years ago, I was working in a rural area of Chiapas, Mexico, for a Roman Catholic/liberation theology type parish. One evening, one friend said he didn't understand why some of the people in the area were converting to these new gringo religions. Another friend pointed out that in these new "gringo" religions, they taught, among other things, abstinence from alcohol, which for some women (and men) was the best thing to ever happen to their family - less domestic violence, less wasting money, better attention to family responsibilities. Some of the Catholics just laughed at the idea of not drinking alcohol being a good thing, but I have carried that thought with me all these years.

earthfreak said...

That's really interesting.

I was in Guatemala a little over a year ago, studying spanish for a week. We had one on one classes with local teachers. One day my teacher and I spent the whole day arguing religion (which was funny, in my terribly inadequate spanish!) - and my overall impression was similar. She talked about a brother of hers who drank a lot, and wasnt' taking care of his child, and wasnt' going to church. They were all very intertwined for her.

The subject of alcohol is interesting. I myself don't find alcohol appealing, but will drink it now and then in social situations. I know it's a terrible problem for some people, and tend to think that our society would be better off without it (I know plenty of people who drink regularly without a problem, but I don't know anyone who drinks and could really argue that it's a *good* thing) - Sometimes I'm surprised that we as quakers don't have more of a stance against it - as it is best unnecessary, and at worst quite destructive, but it seems we don't take united stands on much anymore.

There's a whole post of its own, or a hundred...