Calamity Management and the Role of Sacred Ambivalence

Corinne G. Dempsey

in Kerala Christian Sainthood

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780195130287
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834136 | DOI:
 Calamity Management and the Role of Sacred Ambivalence

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Juxtaposes local European Christian saint traditions with Kerala's Hindu and Christian practices as a means for understanding cross‐cultural responses to evil, calamity, and the problem of theodicy. By locating a number of similarities among local Christian traditions across cultures, this chapter challenges the notion, expressed primarily through institutional channels, that certain “unorthodox” (or undesirable) beliefs and practices found in Kerala's saint traditions are necessarily of Hindu origin. Lying at the root of this inconsistency are local beliefs in the healing efficacies of sacred material objects as well as their questionable benevolence; such beliefs contradict official Christianity's tendency to clearly distinguish spiritual from material and good from evil. The chapter also examines instances in which ambivalent sacred power, representing a particular calamity as well as its cure, has its place within both Christian and Hindu popular traditions.

Keywords: cross‐cultural; European Christian; evil; healing; Hindu; Kerala; local Christian; saint; theodicy

Chapter.  12883 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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