Sin, Sociality, and the Unbuffered Self in US Evangelicalism
This chapter draws on fieldwork on evangelical megachurches in Knoxville, Tennessee. Focusing on the social interactions and spiritual aspirations of a men's fellowship group, this chapter argues that these groups should not be read in solely individualistic terms, as only reinforcing Protestant ethics of self-discipline and self-actualization. As this ethnographic involvement in evangelicalism as a lived religion reveals, evangelicals are taught to become involved in the spiritual and emotional lives of others and to allow such involvement by others. This emphasis on what the chapter terms the “immersive sociality” of these relational networks and communities of practice thus challenges—without completely displacing—the long-standing popular and academic assumption that the values of evangelical theology are primarily individuating in their emphasis and effects.
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