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Religions 2016, 7(7), 81; doi:10.3390/rel7070081

“Show Us Your God”: Marilla Baker Ingalls and the Power of Religious Objects in Nineteenth-Century Burma

Ho Center for Buddhist Studies, Department of Religious Studies, Stanford University, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
Academic Editors: Douglas James Davies and Michael J. Thate
Received: 16 April 2016 / Revised: 26 May 2016 / Accepted: 30 May 2016 / Published: 23 June 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and the Individual: Belief, Practice, and Identity)
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Abstract

This essay examines the unusual evangelical work of Marilla Baker Ingalls, an American Baptist missionary to Burma from 1851–1902. By the time of her death in Burma at the age of 75, Ingalls was known as one of the most successful Baptist evangelists among Burmese Buddhists. To understand the extraordinary dynamic of Ingalls’ expanding Christian community, this essay focuses on two prominent objects at the Baptist mission: A life-sized dog statue that Ingalls kept chained at the edge of her property and a massive banyan tree covered with biblical illustrations and revered by locals as an abode of divine beings. This essay argues that these objects transformed Ingalls’ American Baptist Christianity into a kind of Burmese religion that revolved around revered objects. Through an examination of the particular shrine practices that pulled people into the Baptist mission, this essay reflects on the larger context of religious encounter, conflict, and representation in modernizing Burma. View Full-Text
Keywords: Christianity; Buddhism; missions; Burma; United States; visual culture; material culture Christianity; Buddhism; missions; Burma; United States; visual culture; material culture
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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Kaloyanides, A. “Show Us Your God”: Marilla Baker Ingalls and the Power of Religious Objects in Nineteenth-Century Burma. Religions 2016, 7, 81.

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