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Lecture november 17 2010

Course Code
Joseph Bryant

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soc 250 november 17 2010
-the shift from animism to polytheism; the religious sphere became politicized
Max Weber (1864-1920) The Historical Sociology of the world religion
-he does not treat religion as if it is an autonomous domain-- how religion links up with
other aspects of social life
-sociologically speaking religion exerts tremendous influence on life regulation. Religion
has an important voice in economics, politics, warfare, art, the erotic, education and
intellectual life.
-weber sought to establish the interconnections between economics, politics, war,
religion etc. as these interconnections shift and unfold in the course of shaping and
driving human history
-starting point: differing levels or degrees of religious intensity/ interest
-there is a kind of continuum
virtuoso or heroic religiosity ( a handful of individuals who need high levels of religious
engagement to be fulfilled <--> everyday or mass religiosity ( most of the human
-you cannot understand religious history without understanding that the small number of
virtuoso types are the movers and shakers and then there is the mass religiosity
-virtuosos are deeply concerned about the religious realm but the majority of people
wanted to spend their life engaged in non spiritual activities
-mass religiosity beliefs in:
A) magical assistance and ritual or sacramental grace (seek religious aid for worldly
B) faith in the redeeming power of a savior god saintly beings or priesthoods ( a
transcendent power that can somehow save one from death)-- looking to sacred others
to help you along
-the religious life of most people revolves around these two central aspects
-there is a notion of benefits in this world and the concern over what happens when we

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-in other words the mass devotees recieve the gifts of sacred power in exchange for
worship, loyalty etc. (external sacredness is received or bestowed)
for religious charasmatics, they need and seek a far greater and more thorough life of
religious intensity and involvement (these people need to feel spirituality within them
guiding their worldly actions)
---> there are creators in religion and there are carriers (Trager)
-carriers are not responsible for creating religion, that is the work of virtuosi
who are the founders or major reformers of major historic religious traditions?
they are named figures-- socio. could not marginalize the prominence of these
-durkheims sociology of religion is thin on mentioning main historic figures
charasmatic or virtuosi, such as Moses and the Hebrew prophets, the Buddha, the
Hindu sage-gurus, Zoroaster, Jesus and Paul, Mani, Mohammed, Guru Nanak, Martin
Luther, Elijah muhammed, L Ron Hubbard
-the idea of prominent figures versus the mass religiosity is a driving force for religious
-because of their preoccupation with religion these virtuosi come up with new ideas
concerning religious order. The creativity side of religion comes from these people
-There are far more people who claim to be prophets that went nowhere. That is where
the mass religiousity comes into the picture
-these virtuosi must find disciples and followers... how to attract? they must offer
promises, practices, worldviews that appeal-- a program that will win support
-people who are intensely involved with spirituality have to effectively find audiences that
will follow their teachings
-one of the fundamental problems the V. have to deal with is the low religious intensity of
the mass religiosity since they are comfortable enough with their two primary beliefs
Messenger/Creator + Message + Audience/followers = A new religious movement
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