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City of God: Christian Citizenship in Postwar Guatemala by Kevin Lewis O'Neill

By Kevin Lewis O'Neill

In Guatemala urban this present day, Christianity is not only a trust system--it is a counterinsurgency. Amidst postwar efforts at democratization, multinational mega-churches have conquered road corners and kitchen tables, guiding the devoted to construct a sanctified urban brick via brick. Drawing on wealthy interviews and broad fieldwork, Kevin Lewis O'Neill tracks the tradition and politics of 1 such church, taking a look at how neo-Pentecostal Christian practices became acts of citizenship in a brand new, politically suitable period for Protestantism. targeting daily practices--praying for Guatemala, talking in tongues for the soul of the state, organizing prayer campaigns to strive against unparalleled degrees of crime--O'Neill unearths that Christian citizenship has re-politicized the trustworthy as they fight to appreciate what it capacity to be a believer in a desperately violent crucial American urban. cutting edge, creative, conceptually wealthy, City of God reaches throughout disciplinary borders because it illuminates the hugely charged, evolving courting among faith, democracy, and the kingdom in Latin America.

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Guatemalans of all stripes wear their citizenship (as well as their faith) like a thick skin rather than a light jacket. Foucault’s notion of governmentality is, of course, not without its limitations. Foucault’s work is grounded in a vision of the independent an introduction 15 ONeill_Intro 7/27/09 1:50 PM Page 16 nation-state that does not take transnationalism into account; yet the kinds of political rationalities employed and assumed by citizens of postwar Guatemala do not obey borders. True to Arjun Appadurai’s estimation, citizens now exist within “new geographies of governmentality” (2001, 24).

Bishop Juan José de Aycinena, on September 15, 1863, preached on Guatemala’s independence from Spain: “What more could a nation desire than what this magnificent promise offers? God is no less just nor liberal with us than for the Hebrew nation who served as an example of what the Christian church had to become. . Behold the reason why our republic, being a Catholic congregation, has the right to appropriate the divine promise, and if we fulfill the divine condition—and time will an introduction 7 ONeill_Intro 7/27/09 1:50 PM Page 8 tell—God will not change the rules: He will reward the good and punish the evildoers” (Sullivan-González 1998, 2).

11 In 1900 an overwhelming 81 percent of all Protestants were Caucasian, whereas by 2005 this number had dropped to 43 percent as Protestant Christianity continued to spread beyond the Western world. 5 percent of Asians were Protestant. By 2000 the percentages had risen to 27 percent of Africans, 17 percent of Latin Americans, and 5 percent of Asians. 5 percent in 2000. This is more than a 1,000 percent increase (Shah 2004, 118). The most dramatic Protestant growth emerges in Pentecostal, charismatic, and neo-Pentecostal churches.

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