Spiritual Knowledge on and off Screen
Teleserials and the construction of an urban Christian imagined community in Kinshasa (DR Congo)
Katrien Pype (Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium) [BIO]
This paper seeks to understand the configurations of knowledge, religion and aesthetics in current Kinshasa (RD Congo). The focus is upon the mediation and performance of spiritual knowledge as it is professed in Pentecostal-charismatic churches and on local television channels, in particular the genre of locally produced television serials. As in many other African urban centers, Pentecostal-charismatic leaders increasingly embrace mass media in order to evangelize Kinshasa (DR Congo). When observing the growing number of television channels owned by Christian prophets and Pasteurs, the question on how and why the mechanical image occupies a crucial role in today’s Christian imagination in urban Africa is appropriate. The television programs are vehicles to create an urban imagined Christian community, which is not solely based upon a collective consumption of Christian programs (telesermons, serials, video clips of religious music, etc.), but foremost upon the retrieval of a spiritual knowledge. Based upon ethnographic research, I try to understand the importance of local teleserials as technologies of evangelization. Therefore, I will compare the sermons of Pentecostal-charismatic leaders with the serials. Attention will be on the role of the Christian dramatic artist, ideas about creativity and inspiration, and special effects as revelations as to understand what kind of knowledge is promoted and how this knowledge can be attained, both for the spiritual leaders, as for the artists and their audiences.