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Religions 2016, 7(6), 69; doi:10.3390/rel7060069

The Apparatus of Belief: Prayer, Technology, and Ritual Gesture

Department of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Max Planck Institute, Hermann-Föge-Weg 11, 37073 Göttingen, Germany
Academic Editors: Douglas J. Davies and Michael J. Thate
Received: 19 April 2016 / Revised: 25 May 2016 / Accepted: 31 May 2016 / Published: 7 June 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and the Individual: Belief, Practice, and Identity)
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Abstract

Through a focus on the early history of a mass mediated ritual practice, this essay describes the “apparatus of belief,” or the specific ways in which individual religious belief has become intimately related to tele-technologies such as the radio. More specifically, this paper examines prayers that were performed during the immensely popular Healing Waters Broadcast by Oral Roberts, a famous charismatic faith healer. An analysis of these healing prayers reveals the ways in which the old charismatic Christian gesture of manual imposition, or laying on of hands, took on new somatic registers and sensorial attunements when mediated, or transduced, through technologies such as the radio loudspeaker. Emerging from these mid-twentieth century radio broadcasts, this technique of healing prayer popularized by Roberts has now become a key ritual practice and theological motif within the global charismatic Christian healing movement. Critiquing established conceptions of prayer in the disciplines of anthropology and religious studies, this essay describes “belief” as a particular structure of intimacy between sensory capacity, media technology, and pious gesture. View Full-Text
Keywords: prayer; technology; healing; Pentecostal; belief; ritual; transduction; radio prayer; technology; healing; Pentecostal; belief; ritual; transduction; radio
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Blanton, A. The Apparatus of Belief: Prayer, Technology, and Ritual Gesture. Religions 2016, 7, 69.

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