Being and Becoming Pentecostal
Chapter 4 is about the process of being and becoming Pentecostal and the specific ways in which converts negotiate evangelical identity on the ground, distinguishing themselves as Christians apart. This chapter explores the folk construction of “cristiano” as a public category of personhood and considers the practical strategies Pentecostals use to claim orthodox or “true” Christian status. The author advances the argument that the core of Dominican Pentecostalism in urban barrios is the performance of piety and not personal conviction or belief, per se. Converts ultimately constitute themselves as exceptional Christians through public rituals of personal affirmation: namely, the interrelated conventions of conversion (and adult baptism), testimony, and the observance of behavioral prohibitions, practices that together articulate key evangelical themes of transformation and discontinuity. This chapter theorizes Pentecostal ritual practice as projects of identity formation that precede conviction and make belief possible, but not necessary.
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