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

By Kevin Lewis O'Neill

In Guatemala urban this day, Christianity is not just a trust system--it is a counterinsurgency. Amidst postwar efforts at democratization, multinational mega-churches have conquered road corners and kitchen tables, guiding the trustworthy to construct a sanctified urban brick by means of brick. Drawing on wealthy interviews and vast 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 correct period for Protestantism. concentrating on daily practices--praying for Guatemala, conversing in tongues for the soul of the state, organizing prayer campaigns to strive against extraordinary degrees of crime--O'Neill reveals that Christian citizenship has re-politicized the trustworthy as they try to appreciate what it capability to be a believer in a desperately violent principal American urban. cutting edge, resourceful, conceptually wealthy, City of God reaches throughout disciplinary borders because it illuminates the hugely charged, evolving courting among faith, democracy, and the nation in Latin America.

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Most spoke in tongues, but the ones who did not focused their prayers toward very concrete problems, such as urban violence, the national economy, and divorce. They prayed. They wept. They exhausted themselves in behalf of Guatemala. And, when it was all over, they returned to the megachurch for a two-hour Sunday service. There the congregation greeted an introduction 3 ONeill_Intro 7/27/09 1:50 PM Page 4 them like soldiers returning from battle. Chapter 3 makes the argument that in many ways they were.

We have no other options . . without a doubt. . We have the key in our hands. ”5 Every Christian has the unending responsibility to unify as well as purify the nation. Setting aside Dr. Caballeros’s problematic flattening of postwar ethnic identity, at least for now, it is important to note that making good on one’s moral obligation to transform Guatemala starts with the believer’s own heart and mind; it is a neo-Pentecostal rationality based on a causal logic where the thoughts and feelings of an individual form his or her actions, and these actions eventually congeal into habits, molding character and, ultimately, the nation.

In one of the stranger grabs for power in Guatemalan history, Serrano tried to take full control of the country; a combination of protesters, government officials, and international investors stopped his dictatorial efforts. The full reason for his coup d’état remains unclear, but many speculate that the coup was Serrano’s own way of avoiding corruption charges, which he continues to skirt today by residing in Panama (Steigenga 1999, 162). Regardless of Montt’s and Serrano’s damaged presidencies, neoPentecostalism remains a politically viable religious movement, which is why the growth and influence of Guatemala City’s neo-Pentecostal population are at the very center of this study.

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