LSE Religious Forum Seminars Announced

‘The Metropolis and Evangelical Life: coherence and fragmentation in “the lost city of London”‘

 This paper examines forms of cultural fragmentation experienced by members of a conservative evangelical congregation in London, focusing in particular on how evangelicals respond to their leaders’ aim to encourage them to speak publicly of their faith in their workplaces and other social settings. Drawing on Georg Simmel’s writing on city spaces and modernity, I describe how conservative evangelical subjectivities are formed in response to the contradictory cultural norms they encounter in the city, and how through particular embodied practices, members of this church develop an orientation to a transcendent source of coherence. This enables individuals to deal with internal subjective experiences of division formed through tensions associated with conflicting logics of practice in different urban spaces they inhabit, whilst also reinforcing their sense of cultural distinctive.

Anna Strhan, PhD Candidate, Department of Religious Studies, University of Kent 


‘Eating words through the ear: sermons as sacrifice’
Where preaching, locally understood, was said to be an act of reverent worship, I argue in this paper that such worship has to be understood anthropologically as a kind of sacrifice. Taking a new perspective on ‘traditional’ anthropological understandings of religious sacrifice as necessarily involving some form of eating (Robertson-Smith 2002 [1889]), I suggest that, when examining the act of preaching as it was experienced by the Christians of Gamrie, what is ‘eaten’ is not flesh but words. Thus, preaching (as sacrifice) is not about the imbibing of food through the mouth but rather concerns the imbibing of the ‘Living Word’ through the ear. By ethnographically distinguishing two types of sermonising – ‘preaching’ and ‘teaching’ – and by also paying attention to what needs to happen for a sermon to be deemed a performative failure (Tomlinson 2007, 2009), I suggest that sermonising, as understood through the lens of sacrifice, needs also to be understood in terms of two (often imagined) audiences, that of the ‘saved’ and the ‘unsaved’.
Dr. Joseph Webster, Research Fellow in Social Anthropology, Downing College, Cambridge University

The seminars are free and open to the public; no reservation required. They take place from 6-7:30 pm in room 1.11 in Cowdray House (COW), Portugal Street, London WC2A 2AE

Find Cowdray House on this map:

The Religious Forum also welcome application to speak at the seminar series:


PRESENT your RESEARCH in the Forum on Religion Seminar Series:

The Forum on Religion seminar series features work in progress on religion: submissions welcome from all disciplines and any geographical foci.

Send an email with your proposed presentation topic to

For information about the Forum on Religion and to keep updated on Forum activities, please visit our website at

You can also join our mailing list there.