You have to be born again : converting through narrative



Year of publication 2012
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Religious conversion is traditionally perceived as a new beginning for individual. It refers to change of one's beliefs and behavior and we usually learn about this process from convert's testimonies. These accounts might be, though, the part of conversion process as such. Neophytes gradually learn how to express own experience and past appropriately by listening to others' stories and reading Bible at specific courses or particular camps designed to adopt such a story by outsiders and then perceive themselves through these stories. Newcomers then tell their story in a front of other members demonstrating and legitimizing their membership in a group. This "witnessing" is perceived as an evidence of a "born again" experience, after which neophyte is accepted by the group. Witnessing, as a collective practice, is not designated just for this occasion, but it is a part of regular group practices such as a prayer meetings. What cognitive and social processes are in a game? What is the role of these conversion narratives in terms of group dynamics? Paper will probe these questions through an ongoing fieldwork in Christian Protestant group in Czech Republic.
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