November 23, 2011 Lecture

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26 Mar 2012
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12-03-26 1:14 AM
CHARISMA & ITS ROUTINIZATION
! kinship/blood
! disciples
! office (an organizational hierarchy)
! law, rituals, sacraments, texts
charismatic founder/reformer > gains disciples
! the spreading of the word, the new teachings or program
! early converts are those inspired and willing to risk
discrimination/hostility form the established tradition
! a new tradition gains institutional momentum…
the movement is making its way through the social body, winning favor and
finding opposition or resistance…
Richard Bulliet, Conversion to Islam in the Medieval Period 1979. Introduced
the idea of an S-shaped curve of conversion:
the available "convert pool" to any religion is sociologically and
psychologically diverse and the socio-historical contexts in which conversions
occur are dynamic, changing
5 basic "convert types”:
innovators- the earliest recruits, who are zealots, enthusiasts, seekers+
~2.5% of the population
early adapters – risk taking pioneers or social marginal = ~13.5%
early majority - mainly those of somewhat higher social standing who are
attracted to a movement moving from fringe status to greater social
prominence = ~34%
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late majority - religious moderates and social conservatives who “jump on
the bandwagon once the challenges and stigmas of membership have been
remobed = ~34%
and finally the laggards - mainly comprised of traditionalists who are
members of the old establishments, secular and religious = ~16%
Webers SECT-CHURCH dynamic
Sects and Churches are oriented toward 1) distinctive types of religious
intensity or experience and b) competing “organizational expressions” and
membership standards
against an existing religious tradition, new religious movements begin by
recruiting from those seeking a higher truth, a more intense experience –
they are unfulfilled, uninspired by tradition and so are willing to risk
joining/exploring something new
SECT- a voluntary association of those who have been called, chosen,
enlightened, inspired who are this charismatically qualified – commonly
follow exacting purity requirements, engage in intensive spiritual activity,
zealous commitment to the faith ~ “true believers” + virtuouso or heroic
standards of religiosity for the members = a visible community of saints, hoi
hagioi, the “holy ones”, hoi eklektoi, the “chosen”
CHURCH – an organization where charismatic sanctity is objectified not in
the individual members but in the institution itself, in the priestly order, the
sacraments and rituals, the sacred texts a church is an enterprise in
salvation, dispensing holiness to its members on conditions of loyalty =
mass religiosity the church is a “school for sinners” lower standards of
purity, knowledge so long as members remain loyal to the church and its
leadership, which extends forgiveness and absolution, drawing upon the
treasury/repository of grace and holiness held by the church = “salvation
democratized”
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the historical – sociological tension:
new religious movements typically begin in a sectarian mode of heroic or
virtuoso religiosity and zeal, but to become a powerful or stable social
presence, they must win over those less disposed to such intense religiosity:
i.e they must “compromise: on the high principles and virtuoso standards to
permit a mass or popular following
successful sects thus move in the direction of becoming churches
! this sets the stage for a new upsurge of sect formation
! the successful again become churches…
Weber sees a general cyclical pattern, passing from tradition to a
charismatic upsurge of rigor, enthusiasm, zeal, which eventually leads to a
new tradition, opening space for new charisma…
CHRISTIANITY
1) originates as a Sectarian reform movement within Judaism...2)
develops into a new conversionist-salvationist cult religion 3) eventually
achieving imperial church status
source problems: no contemporary accounts of Jesus's ministry or career,
New Testament texts are ex post facto “ faith based” accounts, not history;
NT writings “fulfill” the prophecies of the Hebrew scriptures ~ imitative
modeling (some 400 direct quotations from the Hebrew scriptures in their
Greek translation – the Septuagint)
historical context: from Pompeys conquest of the region in 63 BCE, the Jews
were under Roman control previously : Assyrian conquest 722, Babylonian
586, the Cyrus and his Persian empire in 535 (rebuilding if Second Temple in
Jerusalem, dedicated in 515) Alexander the Great (d. 324) and his
successors< Maccabean revolt and Hasmonean dynasty…
Jewish covenantal monotheism could not easily accommodate foreign
domination, and exhibited strong opposition to polytheism/idolatry
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