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3. SOC250 Dec1-Feb2.docx

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Joseph Bryant

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MAX WEBER (1864-1920) The Historical Sociology of the World Religions Sought to establish the interconnections between economics, politics, art, religion, etc., as these interrelations shift and unfold in the course of shaping and driving human history The importance of religiously determined systems of life-regulation for economics, politics, warfare, art, the erotic, education and intellectual life, etc. Starting point: differing levels or degrees of religious aptitude or interest among individuals Virtuoso or heroi religiosity - - - everyday or mass religiosity Weber recognized the fact that religion + spiritual matters is not full time ; they want it to be there for certain circumstances but then at the other end of the spectrum, there are those who are intensely preoccupied with religion. The charismatic/virtuoso types find something inadequate in the existing organization; they are the ones that will generate new religious teachings. Basic orientation is that humans seek supernatural support and aid so that they may prosper and have a long life on earth (Health, wealth, status, power, etc.), and they seek assurances of advantages in an afterlife. Mass religiosity is thus given to beliefs in: (a) Magical assistance, and ritual or sacramental grace/empowerment; and/or (b) Faith in the redeeming power of savior god, saintly beings or priesthoods In other words, the mass devotees receive the gifts of sacred power in exchange for worship, loyalty, ritual compliance, etc. [= ~external sacredness/power is received or bestowed] For religious charismatics or vituosi, they need and seek a far greater and more thorough life of religious intensity and involvement [they need internal spirituality, holiness within] There are creators in Religion and there are carriers (Trager) Who are the founders or major reforms of the major and historic religious traditions? Charismatics ~ like prophets ~~~ MISSED~~~ Messenger/Creator + Message + Audiences/Followers = a new religious movement ~~~MISSED~~~ The tensions between Tradition and Charisma Humans generally prefer order, stability, and the familiarity of routine Religion is one of the most conservative of social institutions: its truths are timeless, sacred, and unchanging religions address the ultimate question of value, meaning, purpose I.e. religion is not oriented towards being fashionable, trendy, now rather, it lays claim to being permanent and forever To successfully launch a new religion, t bring about major reforms, requires: 1 Charisma- extraordinary traits of character, personality- charisma is a force that raptures or challenges traditions Religious charismatics call people to a higher, more intense religiosity, a spiritual awakening, and a new or higher truth But charisma is unstable- the leader can fail, or pass away To bring about lasting changes, charisma must find institutional embodiment or expression. Charismas & its Routinization Kinship/blood Disciples Office (an organizational hierarchy) - The office is important b/c people will come and go but the office will stay 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 from the established traditions 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, 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 and changing. 5 basic convert types: Innovators- the earliest recruits, who are zealots, enthusiasts, seekers = ~2.5% of the population Early adapters- risk-taking pioneers of social marginals = ~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% Late majority- religious moderates and social conservative who jump on the bandwagon once the challenges and stigmas of membership have been removed = ~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 (a) distinctive types of religious intensity or experience, and (b) competing organizational expressions and membership standards. Against an existing religious tradition, new religious movements being 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 thus charismatically qualified- commonly follow exacting purity requirements, engage in intensive spiritual activity, 2 zealous commitment to the father ~ true believers = virtuoso 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 intends forgiveness and absolution, drawing upon the treasury/repository of grace and holiness held by the church = salvation democratized 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. THE MAKING OF ORTHODOXY (i.e., what is the true message, the true teachings, the requirements, etc.?) So, a protracted struggle over: ~~MISS~~ 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 * When religion started to compromise, fundamentalists had some doubts but started to compromise themselves? Listen to notes ~ 6:40PM. 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 ministry or career; NT texts are ex post factor faith-based accounts, not history; NT writings fulfill the prophecies of the 3 CHRISTIANITY 3 crucial phases: (1) Originates as a Sectarian reform movement within Judaism (2) Develops into a new controversionist-salvationist cult religion (3) Eventually achieving imperial church status Source problems: no contemporary accounts of Jesus ministry or career; New Testament texts are ex post factor faith based accounts, not history; NT writings fulfill the prophecies of 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, then Cyrus and his Persian empire, in 535 (rebuilding of Second Temple in Jerusalem, dedicated in 515), Alexander the Great (d. 324) and his Successors, Maccabean revolt & Hasmonean dynasty Jewish conventional monotheism could not easily accommodate foreign domination, & exhibited strong opposition to polythesis/idolatry. Berith, a covenant between a people and [a/the] God: I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God Exodus 6.7 God also promises all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession Genesis 17.8 Foreign domination thus generated ongoing religion-political tensions: Practical realism, accommodations ------ idealist, fervor, resistance Sociologically, the Jesus movement is an eschatological/millenarian cult*: (1) Promise of heaven on earth: The kingdom of God is at hand (2) Reversal of the present social order woe unto you rich the last shall be first the meek shall inherit the earth (3) Upsurge and release of emotional enthusiasm: living in the Spirit (4) Initial social constituency largely of the disprivileged, the marginal * From a Latin millennium = one thousand years; chiliasm in Greek. The Belief there will be a Golden Age or Paradise on Earth, under the rule of the returning Chris
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