Hillary Kaell, "Christian Globalism at Home: Child Sponsorship in the United States" (Princeton UP, 2020)

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Child sponsorship, originally a project of nineteenth-century Protestant missionaries, has become one of today’s most profitable private fund-raising tools for global organizations, including World Vision, Compassion International, and ChildFund. Christian Globalism at Home: Child Sponsorship in the United States (Princeton UP, 2020) is an investigation of two centuries of sponsorship and its related practices in American living rooms, churches, and shopping malls, that reveals the myriad ways that Christians who don’t travel outside of the United States cultivate global sensibilities.

Hilary Kaell traces the movement of money, letters, and images, along with a wide array of sponsorship’s lesser-known embodied and aesthetic techniques, such as playacting, hymn singing, eating, and fasting. She shows how, through this process, U.S. Christians attempt to hone globalism of a particular sort by oscillating between the sensory experiences of a God’s eye view and the intimacy of human relatedness. These global aspirations are buoyed by grand hopes and subject to intractable limitations, since they so often rely on the very inequities they claim to redress.

Based on extensive interviews, archival research, and fieldwork, Christian Globalism at Home explores how U.S. Christians imagine and experience the world without ever leaving home.

Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a psychologist, writer, Middle East television commentator and host of The New Books Network’s Van Leer Jerusalem Series on Ideas. Write her at r.garfinkel@yahoo.com.

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1189 episode