Drawing on the work of Webb Keane and Joel Robbins in the anthropology of Christianity, furnished with the influential work of Charles Hirschkind in the anthropology of Islam, and the ethnographic studies of Tom Wagner and Mark Jennings on Pentecostal worship music, this article critically examines ideas of sincerity in the musical practices of Pentecostal megachurches. Making use of ethnographic data from research on congregational music in South Africa, including interviews with a variety of Pentecostal musicians, this article argues that the question of Protestant sincerity, understood following Keane as emphasizing individual moral autonomy and suspicion of external material religious forms for expressing one’s inner state, is particularly acute in the case of the Hillsong megachurch. Employing the full array of spectacular possibilities made available by the contemporary culture industry, Hillsong churches centralize cultural production and standardize musical performance whilst simultaneously emphasizing individual religious experience. It is argued that Pentecostal megachurches seek to realize a form of sincere mimicry grounded in learned and embodied practices.
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