October 21, 2020

Jointly authored by Dr. Kate Kingsbury*, David B. Metcalfe**, and Dr. Andrew Chesnut The season of death is upon us. October is here impending Halloween with its cavalcade of crones, ghosts and goblins together with the Catholic holy days of All Saints and All Souls, known in Latin America as Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 1st and 2nd. Included in these fall festivals are two familiar faces whose skeletal visages afford them special attention during… Read more

October 4, 2020

“The Bible returns to the presidential palace.” That’s what the Bolivian interim President Jeanine Áñez stated at her inauguration last November. Her turbulent administration is met with a lot of resistance from the ‘left’, but enjoys plenty of support from the Evangelical churches which are rapidly gaining ground throughout Latin America. The presidents of Mexico and Brazil were elected with explicit support from Evangelical churches. The political and religious landscapes of Latin America are shifting rapidly. A proud Catholic church stands on the… Read more

August 28, 2020

  By Dr. Kate Kingsbury and Dr. R. Andrew Chesnut Since what is now the fastest growing new religious movement which centers on the Mexican folk saint of death went public in 2001 it has faced a formidable foe in the Catholic Church. However the latest crusade against Santa Muerte, dubbed by Mexican clergy  “a macabre symbol of the drug trade” and a “satanic cult”, comes from Evangelical Protestants. They have also been inveighing against Santa Muerte for many years… Read more

July 30, 2020

Co-authored by Dr. Andrew Chesnut and Dr. Kate Kingsbury* Glaringly absent from most of the news stories on the notorious Houston-based physician and pastor Dr. Stella Immanuel, who has gone viral for her recent endorsement by President Trump, is her religious affiliation.Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a video in which Dr. Immanuel as part of the insidious cabal of physicians “America’s Frontline Doctors” promoted hydroxychloroquine as an efficacious treatment for COVID-19 and questioned the effectiveness of masks… Read more

July 25, 2020

During the second half of the 19th century in the mountain towns of New Mexico and southern Colorado, Mexican-American Catholics personified death as a female skeletal figure known as both Doña Sebastiana and Comadre Sebastiana. “Comadre” has no direct English translation but is what one calls the godmother of their own child. Sebastiana, as will be examined in detail, derives from the male saint, Sebastian, the Roman martyr. Holy Week processions organized by the Penitentes, Catholic brotherhoods originating in Spain… Read more

June 28, 2020

First published by Oxford University Press in 2012 with the second edition in 2017, my book Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint has been translated into both Spanish and Polish and now the Turkish edition is forthcoming this summer with Ganesha Press of Ankara. To that end I asked my research partner, Dr. Kate Kingsbury,* an Oxford-trained anthropologist of religion at the University of Alberta, to write the foreword for the Turkish edition. Dr. Kingsbury and I have… Read more

June 14, 2020

Co-authored by Dr. Kate Kingsbury* and Dr. Andrew Chesnut It’s Brazil that’s been in the news recently for the persecution of practitioners of the Afro-Brazilian religions of Candomble and Umbanda at the hands of Pentecostal gangs who issue death threats to devotional leaders in an effort to expel them from their urban turf, especially in Rio de Janeiro. The latest victim of Pentecostal persecution in Latin America, however, is not in the nation with the largest absolute Pentecostal population on… Read more

May 4, 2020

What really struck me in the second episode of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels is the religious feminism. Each of the three major faith traditions depicted in this episode and probably throughout the season are presided over by powerful women. The newcomer in this episode is Sister Molly, a charismatic Pentecostal radio evangelist who leads her own church and radio program in the City of Angels. Sister Molly is based on Canadian-American Pentecostal evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson who was a female… Read more

April 26, 2020

Co-authored by Dr. Kate Kingsbury* and Dr. Andrew Chesnut In this piece we explore the portrayal of Santa Muerte, the Mexican Female Folk Saint of Death in ‘Penny Dreadful: City of Angels.’ The show is set in 1938 Los Angeles which, it claims, is ‘a time and place deeply infused with Mexican-American folklore and social tension.’ The television series in actual fact demonstrates creator John Logan’s ignorance of Mexican culture and his penchant for cultural misappropriation in his misuse of… Read more

March 24, 2020

‘My name is Death: the last best friend am I’. Robert Southey, 1816 Co-authored by Dr. Kate Kingsbury* and Dr. Andrew Chesnut As Santa Muerte cards circulate in Mexico with prayers of protection against covid-19, we consider the contours of life and death in these tumultuous times.  Many countries across the world are now in lockdown or a state of emergency due to Coronavirus, as governments and citizens, gripped with fear, seek to attenuate the virus’ reach. The panic and… Read more

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