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Invocation: The Anthropology Ministry

Invocation: The Anthropology Ministry

(p.1) Invocation: The Anthropology Ministry
Filled with the Spirit
Ellen Lewin
University of Chicago Press

I never expected to study religion. Even after decades as an anthropologist, my firmly secular upbringing had left me with a skepticism about faith that made it hard to take it seriously, even as an academic pursuit. Certainly my anthropological training, especially its deeply relativistic stance on pretty much everything, meant that I understood in some remote intellectual way that religious sentiments and beliefs are important parts of people’s lives as well as the cultural wholes that are the foundation of our work (and our world), and that they are not to be taken lightly. But I never felt entirely comfortable participating in religious rituals. Though I went to many such events during my study of lesbian and gay commitment ceremonies, I focused on what else they meant besides worship of the divinity, and in the case of weddings and commitment ceremonies, that was usually a lot. I understood that belief and faith were real, but I didn’t internalize this understanding enough to find my footing when I played a role in a ritual setting....

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