Holy Brotherhood: Romani Music in a Hungarian Pentecostal Church

By Barbara Rose Lange | Go to book overview

7
Stigma and Stereotype

Many small congregations like the IG operate with a sense of egalitarianism arising out of their structure as folk churches where their sense of communicating with God and each other is immediate. They resemble the early Pentecostals in America, who characterized their community as one “body of Christ.” IG members even used the phrase “we are one body” (egy test vagyunk) at times when they were explaining their ethnic mixture to outsiders. Writers in the early issues of the American Pentecostal movement's periodical Apostolic Faith used images of melting and of multitudes gathering (MacRobert 1988:55–56). This fervent unity was one generation removed by the time missionaries went to Hungary. Within the complex hierarchies of the large Pentecostal institutions that have subsequently emerged in the United States, leadership committees and councils utilize the idea of spiritual brotherhood. Their missionary literature contains frequent references to foreign adherents as brothers. There are many opportunities to demonstrate unity in the highly stylized format of bylaws, periodicals, and church services. By contrast, IG members put their version of spiritual brotherhood into action face to face. In this context, the differences between Magyars, Roma, and missionaries were often foregrounded.

The IG members' term szent testvériség (holy brotherhood), with the meaning of sanctification they attributed to the word szent, indicates one way that the IG members bridged differences. They viewed themselves not just as contradicting but as actually having transformed some of the tensions that occurred in secular society between Roma, Magyars, and people from different social strata. When explaining how they regarded each other as testvérek, Magyar and Romani church members both gave the believer's greeting as an example. They gave solid handshakes, made clear eye contact, used a very energetic tone of voice, and smacked each other vigorously on the cheek. This contrasted with how Magyars and Roma often approached each other in the secular world. For Romani church members, the greeting could also symbolize the egalitarian ideal. Michael Stewart commented about Vlach Roma that “the correct use of greetings was emblematic of a willingness to engage in a relationship of mutual respect” (Stewart 1997:44). The church greeting demonstrates how

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Holy Brotherhood: Romani Music in a Hungarian Pentecostal Church
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Note on Textual and Musical Transcriptions ix
  • Pronunciation Guide and Orthography for the Hungarian and Romani Languages xi
  • List of Abbreviations xiii
  • Holy Brotherhood 1
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - The Isten Gyülekezet in Hungarian Society 21
  • 2 - Instrumental Music, Charisma, and Church Leadership 47
  • 3 - Mediating Moralities: an Ethnographer's Interpretation 69
  • 4 - The Holy Spirit and Song Composition 84
  • 5 - Roma and the Hívő éNekek 107
  • 6 - The Politics of Nineteenth- Century Gospel Hymns 131
  • 7 - Stigma and Stereotype 149
  • Conclusion 165
  • Appendix - Recordings, Interviews, and Personal Communications 173
  • Glossary 175
  • Notes 179
  • Bibliography 187
  • Index 199
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