Christianity and Catastrophe in South Sudan
Civil War, Migration, and the Rise of Dinka Anglicanism
Studies in World Christianity
285 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: October 2018
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.
Zink’s work is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of what Anglican Christianity looks like around the world at the local level. Here, a Christianity that is both local and global, liturgical and biblical, and that does its theology orally through sermon, prayer, and hymn enables people and communities in conflict, fear, and uncertainty to find a place to stand, a future to anticipate, a God to trust.~Canon Wheeler, Church Times
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.~Isaiah Majok Dau, General Overseer, Sudan Pentecostal Church
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.~Joel Cabrita, University Lecturer in World Christianity, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge
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.~Emma Wild-Wood, Senior Lecturer, African Christianity and African Indigenous Religions, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh
…Zink looks at how a classical missionary organization, the Church Missionary Society (CMS) of the Anglican Church, allowed local Dinka Christian leaders, including both men and women, to oversee, guide, and consolidate the conversion process. This is a well-documented, well-told story of an important recent development in Christian history, and it will be appreciated by anyone interested in African Christianity or world Christianity more generally.~Choice
At the heart of the significance of this story is the profound insight it gives into the potential of Christian theology, vision, values and spiritual power to work in dialogue and harmony but also disruption and challenge with African cultures and traditions, and to renew them and equip them for the diverse threats and challenges of the modern age~Andy Wheeler, Sudan Studies
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.~David Maxwell, Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Emmanuel College, Cambridge
The book is essential both for those interested in church growth and in the Sudans. At the same time, it has much broader implications for anyone interested in religious change and anyone interested in the consequences of war.~Naomi R. Pendle, Journal of Church and State