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Reason to Believe: Cultural Agency in Latin American Evangelicalism (The Anthropology of Christianity)

Reason to Believe: Cultural Agency in Latin American Evangelicalism (The Anthropology of Christianity)
Author: David Smilde
ISBN 13: 9780520249431
ISBN 10: 520249437
Edition: 1
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: 2007-07-02
Format: Paperback
Pages: 277
List Price: $34.95

"David Smilde has given us the most sophisticated and rigorous ethnography of Evangelicalism in the Americas, north or south. And he uses that ethnography to generate a persuasive theory of 'cultural agency.' His analysis moves from the particular to the general, and from the concrete to the abstract, with unusual facility."—Jeff Goodwin, New York University

"This book masterfully combines ethnographic description with sophisticated theoretical analysis of the role that religion plays in the lives of men who are struggling with alcohol, drugs, and gambling in Venezuela. Based on three years of in-depth interviewing and observation in Caracas, David Smilde's study beautifully portrays the dynamics of male culture in a violent city and describes why some individuals decide to convert to the Pentecostal faith. Smilde makes a major contribution to our understanding of human agency, cultural empowerment, and the role of conservative religion."—Donald E. Miller, author of Reinventing American Protestantism: Christianity in the New Millennium

"This is a significant achievement. Smilde combines fascinating data with a thorough and compelling reworking of theories of cultural change and religion. His emphasis on cultural change as the practice of imaginative rationality opens a valuable path for understanding what conversion means to those in the middle of the process. Coming to believe involves more than the disembodied play of mental abstractions. It arises within daily life and is best understood within the rich context of cross pressures and desires for a more healthful and satisfying existence. Smilde reveals not only that we can convince ourselves to believe, but that we all do it every day."—Daniel H Levine, author of Popular Voices in Latin American Catholicism