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No sympathy for the devil: narratives about evil
journal contributionposted on 2001-01-01, 00:00 authored by Andrew SingletonAndrew Singleton
Christian religious experiences usually take place within the context of a religious group or community. Some of these experiences play a central role in propagating and sustaining group identity and belief. In many Pentecostal and charismatic communities, the most conspicuous experiences of this kind are those orchestrated by the devil, including 'demon possession' and 'supernatural assault'. Often, these encounters are thought to be part of an ongoing 'spiritual war' between the forces of good and evil. Christian victory in this war clarifies and strengthens community identity. Employing an ethnographic approach, this article examines the importance of storytelling in relation to this process. Through an analysis of three oral stories, it is suggested that storytelling is the means through which experiences of evil are interpreted and understood and that it is the essential way in which these experiences are communicated by members of a community to one another.