Angels and Grass: Church, Revival, and the Neo-Pauline Turn

Jon Bialecki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay takes note of the fact that Alain Badiou published both Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism and Deleuze: The Clamor of Being in the same year and of the resulting controversy that has emerged from Badiou's (and his followers') critique of the propriety and efficaciousness of Gilles Deleuze–inspired forms of political praxis and subjectivity. In a move to adjudicate between the competing claims that arose from this debate, this essay asks whether a juxtaposition of contemporary Pentecostal and charismatic global Christianity—as captured by a newly emerging anthropology of Christianity—with Badiou's description of an original first-century Pauline Christian militancy could bring clarity to these issues. Starting with a reading of some key work and ethnography by Joel Robbins (one of the establishing figures in the anthropology of Christianity) and supplementing it with a brief review of some of the wider ethnographic literature, this essay argues that the contemporary Pentecostal/charismatic global resurgence bears the mark of two distinct yet intertwined modalities of subjectivity and praxis, church and revival, each of which are similar, respectively, to the competing forms of subjectivity and praxis championed by Badiou and Deleuze. The essay then closes with the open question of whether secular liberatory anticapital movements could borrow from this heterogeneous mix of tactics in an attempt to produce a challenge and an alternative to the current system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-717
JournalSouth Atlantic Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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