Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 February 2013
The religious practices of the UMG are considered in this chapter as mediations. As Hughes and Meyer (2005) have shown, once religion is understood as a practice of mediation, media do no longer appear as alien to the realm of religion but as an inalienable element for accessing and rendering present other-worldly powers. Yet, in contrast to Meyer, I think it necessary to take a more critical view on processes of mediation by focusing also on the discontinuous, disturbing and disruptive aspects of mediation. Centring on the human body, I will explore how different materialities are (re)mediated or fail to do so due to disturbances and blockages, sometimes including technical mass media, and occasionally authenticating religious experience and authorizing religious leadership. In fact, within the UMG, faith was not so much understood as an inner, spiritual attitude that one could keep to oneself but in a far more material sense (cf. Meyer 2010). Interestingly, it is not only the communication of symbolic statements mimetically through the body and its movement, but also the body techniques themselves that induce the ‘orgiastic’, enthusiastic states of ‘altered consciousness’ in the performers. To understand the models and media of religious communication in more depth, I will take up again the themes of ‘pneuma’ and electricity in this chapter.
The UMG has created a full repertoire of body techniques and forms of mediating the Holy Spirit's power to expose the very material mechanics or technological existence of their community as communication (cf. Abreu 2009).