Amidst a catastrophic civil war that began in 1983 and ended in 2005, many Dinka people in Sudan repudiated their inherited religious beliefs and embraced a vibrant Anglican faith. Christianity and Catastrophe in South Sudan chronicles the emergence of this grassroots religious movement, arguing that Christianity offered the Dinka new resources that allowed them to cope with a rapidly changing world and provided answers to the spiritual questions that war raised.
Christianity and Catastrophe in South Sudan is rooted in extensive fieldwork in South Sudan, complemented by research in the archives of South Sudanese churches and international humanitarian organizations. The result is a detailed profile of what Christianity means to a society in the middle of intense crisis and trauma, with a particular focus on the roles of young people and women, and the ways in which the arrival of a new faith transformed existing religious traditions.
Christianity and Catastrophe in South Sudan stakes out a new field of inquiry in African Christianity. Jesse Zink has written a must-read for all interested in the ongoing crises in Africa and, in particular, the vexed relationship between violence and religion.
About the Author
Jesse A. Zink is an Anglican priest and principal of Montreal Diocesan Theological College in Montreal, Quebec. Previously, he was director of the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide in Cambridge, UK. He is the author of three previous books about Anglicanism and the world church, including Backpacking through the Anglican Communion.
What People are Saying About This
Zink’s impressive study of religious change in South Sudan draws together crucial themes in the study of contemporary Africa and global Christianity. His narrative masterfully weaves together discussions around violence, migration, state-building and religion to answer the question of what lay behind the dramatic growth in Christian conversion amongst Southern Sudanese in the twentieth century. This important book convincingly demonstrates that conversion to Christianity in contemporary Africa needs to be understood in the light of the dramatic social changes of the modern period.
Zink’s careful archival and oral history research ably demonstrates how, in the 1980s and 1990s, a church profoundly influenced by women and young men organized, sang, and prophesied itself into being. He shows how Sudanese Anglicanism challenges many of the assumptions found in the study of African Christianity. In clear, lucid prose Zink argues convincingly for a church that is at once transnational and local. His book is immensely valuable to anyone interested in South Sudan, Anglicanism, or the relationship between conflict and religious faith.
Jesse Zink’s Christianity and Catastrophe in South Sudan is a great scholarly work on Jieng [Dinka] faith development and its struggle for identity. This important work carefully chronicles the genesis of the Jieng Christian faith journey and its implications for the future of traditional and cultural heritage. It is a must-read for Jieng Christians and all those who love to understand the complexities of the Jieng worldview and culture in relation to biblical faith.
Zink provides one of the most richly documented and ‘insiderly’ accounts of an African conversion movement to date. Combining an extensive oral archive of song, sermon, and prophetic utterance with the personal papers of many of the key figures, he charts the full chronological sequence of religious change within Dinka religion. The result is a remarkable account of the social and cultural transformation of a people who for the most part had been resistant Western missionaries but were led into an act of collective repentance by their own Christian prophets in response to the violence and forced migration of Sudan’s Second Civil War.