Dreams and Nightmares of Modernity

Voor deze ene keer: een blog in het Engels. Dit is een voorpublicatie van het artikel dat ik heb geschreven voor het jaarlijkse Word & Context-tijdschrift van Justo Mwale Theological University College. Nieuwsgierig geworden? Laat het even weten, dan stuur ik je het hele artikel toe.

Dreams and Nightmares of Modernity

Accusations and testimonies of Satanism in Zambia

Aren’t we all looking for a comfortable life, unburdened by worries about illness and need? For students at Justo Mwale Theological University College, modernity and the process of becoming ‘modern’ are intrinsically linked to acquiring more wealth and better health. But where in classical sociological theory modernity is thought to go hand in hand with secularization and a decline in the social relevance of religion, in Zambia Christianity and modernity seem to be a package deal.

Christianity, modernity and globalization are important forces in Zambia’s urban areas. These forces are expected to bring development and prosperity. But have they really brought the measure of health and wealth that people have been looking for? For some the answer would be yes – but many more are experiencing poverty and need in the face of unattainable riches. The happy few that have prospered are commonly mistrusted. Questions are raised: Did he acquire his wealth in a legitimate way, or were other, darker, powers involved? Dreams of modernity can all too easily turn into a nightmare of alleged Satanic rituals.

Is it a coincidence that especially in Pentecostal churches, with their emphasis on prosperity, testimonies of involvement in Satanism are quite popular? In this article I want to place Zambian accusations and testimonies of Satanism in the context of the search for modernity, health and wealth.

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