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Residual Masculinity and the Cultivation of Negative-Charisma in a Caribbean Pentecostal Community

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The Anthropology of Religious Charisma

Part of the book series: Contemporary Anthropology of Religion ((CAR))

Abstract

This chapter considers men, masculinity, and charismatic authority among Pentecostal Christians in the Dominican Republic. Above is a selection from the conversion narrative of someone I call Juan Carlos. Limited space here prevents me from detailing his testimony in its entirety, but what I have included are particulars that have become commonplace in the conversion narratives of Pentecostal men in urban barrios throughout the country.1 Through these testimonies Juan Carlos and others like him claim a certain type of authority and male prestige that are critical, I propose, to the ways in which he and other male converts legitimate their transformation in Christ and shape their new identities as Christian leaders and as men of God.

I left Nagua around the age of 16 and moved to la 42, in Capotillo [a depressed area of Santo Domingo, notorious for crime and violence]. You know what they move there, right? Anything and everything; it’s a drug cartel. I arrived there as a jovencito (youth) with little experience. I had many dreams. I allied myself with the tígueres (macho men) in the neighborhood; the tígueres there are ruthless. When I arrived it was something else. There were many people there who knew me from Nagua and they said that they were going to kill me, because, you know, I was involved in the vices, the games, the drinking, the gangs. I remember like it was yesterday... I made a lot of money selling drugs there in Capotillo. Lots of money, but I would drink it... We would go to the club and, you know, we weren’t thinking about anythingI was youngWith machete in hand I would go out on the streets with my gang to fight. I knew how to “dance” the machete. Even on the twenty -fourth of December I was in the streets. I remember going up and down the barrio with a machete in hand and a bag of drugs in the other. Selling to people, and waiting for othergangs

When I converted to the gospel the Lord immediately cast away my problems. I accepted the bible and I began to give testimony that God had indeed transformed me. Now I go to Capotillo, where I once sold drugs, and I preach. Where I used to sell drugs, now I go and I speak against drugs. When I go there the men say “But my God, you are different. You are much younger now! You look much better now, what is happening?” And I say that I have Christ now. Because remember, I used to spend 30 days a month in the streets, “smashed,” with a machete in hand and with a.38 at my side. So now when I go there the men they say “but you are much younger now!” It’s that I have Christ and I’m not in sin... Since converting I am a serious man, I work more, I am soon going to have ten years in the gospel. I go to where I used to sell drugs, I preach and go with my bible and nobody desires to do anything bad to me, nor do I desire to have other women. God has done a cleansing in me... God has told me to be an example for other drug addicts and I want to be an example to other drug addicts. I want to go to different countries and testify to God, because there are people who are in this life that don’t believe that they can change. I preach that there is still hope; everything is not lost... I was a drug addict and now I am free. I was a macheteroa bandoleroand today I am free.

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Charles Lindholm

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© 2013 Charles Lindholm

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Thornton, B.J. (2013). Residual Masculinity and the Cultivation of Negative-Charisma in a Caribbean Pentecostal Community. In: Lindholm, C. (eds) The Anthropology of Religious Charisma. Contemporary Anthropology of Religion. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137377630_6

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