This paper critically examines Nathaniel Roberts’ book, To be Cared For. It argues that by discussing the “unique moral problems and cultural contradictions” that surround the everyday life-world of low caste Dalit Pentecostals in a slum in Chennai, Roberts provides a rich ethnography of caste, Christianity and care in India. In particular, the book makes several contributions: first, it provides a nuanced, contextual understanding of the “pluralities” of Indian Christianities; second, contrary to Gandhian view of “religion as spirituality”, it shows (by questioning the hierarchy of the religious world) how materiality or worldly benefits occupy a central role in the life-world of believers; third, it discusses “pastoral innovation” and shows how Pentecostal pastors are constantly innovating new ways of interpreting and reinterpreting doctrines to address the everyday social problems and anxieties of believers, and also how pastoral innovation needs to be understood in the context of pastoral competition and rivalry; and finally, it discusses a notion of belonging that goes beyond territoriality and religious affiliation and shows how “relationality”, shared values, and real/imagined connections are essential to belonging. Discussing these four aspects, what the paper shows is, how through careful observation and in-depth ethnographic narratives of everyday religiosity and morality of the slum dwellers, Roberts makes an important contribution to the anthropology of Christianity in India.
"Caste, Conversion, and Care:Toward an Anthropology of Christianity in India,"
Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies:
Vol. 32, Article 3.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.7825/2164-6279.1729