"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Church in the Square

Though the Coptic Church is of course the indigenous church of Egypt, there are other Christian traditions extant in the country, not least Roman Catholics and evangelicals. What was striking to me in visiting Coptic churches the first few times now twenty years ago was the evidence of clear borrowing of certain practices from North American evangelicals. One such evangelical church in Cairo is the object of a book set for release later this spring. 

The American University of Cairo Press just sent me their latest catalogue, and included a book set for release in May of this year: Anna Jeanine Dowell, The Church in the Square: Negotiations of Religion and Revolution at an Evangelical Church in Cairo (Cairo Papers in Social Science) (AUC Press, 2015), 112pp.

About this book we are told:
In the wake of the January 25, 2011 popular uprisings, youth and leaders from the Kasr el Dobara Evangelical Church, the largest Protestant congregation in the Middle East, situated just behind Tahrir Square embarked on new, unpredictable political projects. This ethnography seeks to elucidate the ways that youth and leaders utilized religious imagery and discourse and relational networks in order to carve out a place in the Egyptian public sphere regarding public religion, national belonging, and the ideal citizen. Evangelical Egyptians at KDEC navigated the implications of their colonial heritage and transnational character even as their leadership sought to ground the congregation in the Egyptian national imagery and emerging revolutionary political scene. The author argues that these negotiations were built upon powerful paradoxes concerning liberal politics, secularism, and private versus public religion, which often implicated Evangelicals in the same questions being raised in public discourse concerning Islamist politics and religious minorities.

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