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In: Journal of Religion in Africa
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In: Journal of Religion in Africa

Abstract

The exorcism of Michael Taylor in 1974, which led to murder, pushed Anglican exorcisms into the public gaze. This article proposes a particular trajectory of Anglicanism and the preternatural into popular culture and popular awareness of religion. The Taylor case was one of the catalysts for private anxiety among clergy about the preternatural in the Church of England. By the early 1970s, some clergy ignited public debate including open letters and television appearances to declare the Church of England should not exorcise and complete belief in the accounts of the Gospels was not necessary. Their debate moved to television, some clergy declaring on talk shows the Church should not exorcise, others consenting to be filmed exorcising. Clergy exorcising on screen gave visual cues and content to fictional drama that traversed different genres and channels. This article identifies a common element to drama showcasing the Church and the preternatural, showing the institution and its clergy as weak or absent in the face of evil. Drama brought to the fore clerical concerns that engaging publicly with the preternatural made the Church seem theologically confused and denuded of spiritual authority, a point reinforced by the tragic real-world consequences of the Anglican exorcism of Michael Taylor.

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In: Journal of Religion in Europe

Abstract

In various cultures around the world, past and present, many natural and cultural sites are deemed sacred. What are sacred landscapes? What are the spiritual foundations for their formation? How are they formed? How are they protected? The answers to these questions help frame a discussion of sacred landscapes within the context of their meaning, origin, and management processes as lived experiences of specific societies. In Tanzania the linkages between biodiversity and the worldview of a society have partly been acknowledged but remain unexplored. This paper applies a mixed research approach to studying sacred forests among the Bena community of Njombe in Tanzania. Rather than looking exclusively at the sacred forests in themselves as places, the paper underscores the linkage of human-nature-spirituality as key in explaining the history of sacred forests. It establishes that, among the Bena, the sacredness of a place was founded on the relationship between the visible and the invisible worlds – relations that led to the formation of various mystical-religious homelands’ sacred places that are protected through mythologies.

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In: Journal of Religion in Africa