Week 12 Giddens Religion - IEN MUNICH Eeaara an illiterate...

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Unformatted text preview: IEN MUNICH Eeaara. an illiterate mother of lit-e from North Bengal In lndla.1.rlslte~tl the Ca tholie nuns at the I'ulis- sionarles ol fihariry in Calcutta It was to seek; their blessing before she died. She had what she thought was a mallgnant tumour in her stomach that modern medical trearrnent had failed tn cure. It was 5 Scplernher 1953. exactly one year alter Ihe death ol' Mother Teresa. the nun awarded the Nobel T'riste for her work Iwith the sick and poor and. Ihe l'ounder of the Missionaries of 'Charity. The nuns prayed For Hesara and placed a medailion on her ato mach that had been blessed by Mother 'l'eresa.’l'he lump disappeared overnigh l. Besara recalls that she had been stiller- ing with a 'splitting headache. day and night. and the lump in the stomach was unbearably painful‘. She remembers a servloe atthe eh u re]: to oommemoratethe amtlversa ry of Mother n resa's death. ‘It is there' she said.- ‘] had the vision. Mother's t'leath~ picture was iyl ng nest to the altar. I saws light like this [she points at a camera flashl coming nut ofthe picture. l'tnly I saw it. fit 1 am. [got up and found that the lump had disappeared as had the head- aehe. I walked the nestt morning like a normal person.‘ To Monica Besara and the nuns at the Missions ries olCharity. this was a miracle. A medical team sent not by the Catholic lI:.hL|rch to investigate agreed- The nuns issued a statement saying that 'God has worked his miracle through lvlother |Teresa| and we are so very happy". The Pope. as head of the Catholic Church. accepted that a mincie had taken place and ordered the heatificalion of Mother Teresa. the final step before aainthood — normally the Pope's approval oI'a second mimcie. 'l'he heatifl- cation to'ent ahead to celebrations around the world In lEtetoher stills. In Albania. Mother Teresa's eottntry of origln. the stay was ohsenred as a national holldey and anus was deelareui Mother Teresa 'r'ear. In her adopted country ofhttlla. priests eeler hraled special Masses across. the enuntry. children paraded nn t'IaIeu tta's streets.and the ceremony. held at the Vatican in Ttaiy. was broadcast live on national television. In Home. films. musicals. cartoons and exhibitions were shown celebrating h-‘lother Teresa's life. and her relics have been puton display. Despite the Catholic Church's insis- tence. not everyone is convinced that Monica Hcsara's recot-‘eryr was a miracle. attained alter Prohir Lihosh is lounder oflndia's Science and l-lationaliats' Society. which ape- elalIa-es in espeslng holy men who tlttpe ordinary ]nt|lans into paying for miraele ettres- ]-[is organlsation claims a member- ship of more than Batten people and has a mandate to 'free poor and Illiterate lndians from superstition. IElite-sh has a simple solution for Hesara's dramatic recovery: ‘Ihe medication had started having efi'eet. "miracle" happened.‘ Doctors who treated Flesara at various hospitals in Bengal made similar statements. and questioned whether the growth was actually a cancer- when the so-cailed I..--.'.'|.';'_-.'I lattice I“ t'l'.|.'.'| lt-ll nus tumn-ur er snmething mere benign- Ghnsh argued that 'h-lnther Thresa was a meat sbul andI think it is an. insuII tn her legacy tn melee her sainthned dependent bn bogus miracles- ]t shnulel be linked tn her great Her}: amnng the peer.' l'tt Limes. religibn and science seem tn be at adds with one anndaet. The debate aruund the miracle ul' h'ltI-nlea [l-esamt sheets that a religleus eutle uh and meets tn rarlenallst theught exist in an Illness}.r state at tensben. mm the deepen- ing at medemlty, a ratlenalist perspeethrs has eenqusretl many.I aspeets efeur esls- lenee: Its held seems unlikely ta be wealt- ened In the lereseeehle future- 1J'et there I.Ie'tll always he reaetinns against seienee Religibn in hllnelern Eeeiety' 533 Mather Terese bees me lama us far her teeth amengst India's peerest peepla. and [alienal'tst tJ't-nught. tbt they remain silent en sueh fundamenlal quesliens as the meaning and purpnse bI'IiI'e. Itia these matters 1arbieh have always been at the rate nf tells-lien and heme fuelled the idea nt'let'th. an emetiuna] leap intu belief. Heligiun has bad a strung held [WEE the lives at human beings [bt thbusands all years. In one [Linn u-r anuther. religiun is faultel In all hnusan human seelelles. The earliest seeletles en resets. e[ which we have eshlenee enly' through eeehaeeleglr eel remains. shew clear Itsees ermllgiens symhels and eeremenles. Cave mas-.rlngs suggest that re Ilgleus beliefs anti praetlees ex1steel mere than aliIHm years age. Thmughnut suhsequent histbr'y. [eliginn 534 has eentinued tn be a central part nf human experience, influencing hnw we perceive and react tn the entire nmenls in which we live. Why has rcligjen been such a pervasive asp-eet nl' human secieties'i" Hnw is its role changing in late rnn-dern secieties? Under what cenditians dees religittn unite cam- munl ties. and. under whaleendillens dues it divide them? Hew ean religion have such a purchase en individuals’ lives that the].r are prepared It: saerifiee [hemselit'es 111: Its Ideals? These are the questlans that we sltall try to answer In thls chapter. In erder in tin an. we shall have m asl: what taligien aetttallr Is. and leak at same at the dlfier- ent terms that rellgietta beliefs and [tree tices talte. We shall alsn ennaider the main seeinlngiea] th en ries nE religinn and art alyse the 1.-'arinus types nf religie us erganizatinn that can be distinguished. Thrnuglteut, we will ennsider the fate nf religien in the medern werld: fer it has seemed in n'tanj.r ctbservers that. with the rise efseience and mnden't industr_v. relig- ien tedagr has heeeme a less central force in seeial lile than it was prier tn the mndem age. Seeielegical theeries and ideas The secielegieal stunt,r ef religian The start}.r nf religinrt is a Challenglng enterprise which places quite special demands an the seeielngieal irn aginatien. In analysingreligieus practices. we hare he make sense cf the many different beliefs and rituals feund in the 1ratieus human cultures. We must be sensitive in ideals that inspire prefnund ca nvictien in RELIGION IN MDDERN SIIIIEIEI"Ir believers. yet at the same time take a hal- aneed view ei them. We have in cenfrent ideas that see l: the eternal. while reenertiz- ing that religinus greups else Fran-late quite mundane gnals — such as acquiring finance ersnliciting fer feflewers_1t'|t'e need to race gniae the diversity ni religiclus belieis and medes ei' eenduct. but alse prebe [me the nature el' religlen as a general phenemene rt. Seeielegisls define rlllglutl as a eullum] system al t.:t.1rnntt.1nl!.I shared beliefs and rltuals that pravldes a sense at ultimate meaning and purpese lay ereathtg an Idea efrealita.I ll'I-"ll is sacred. all-encampasslng and supernatural [Durlfltelm 1ass; Berger “16?; Wuthnew 193133. There are three key elemenls in this dEfilllTifln! I Religion is .n rfie-rm sf culture. Eulture censists cut” the shared beliefs. values. nnrma and ideas that create a cam rnnn identity an‘tnnga group at" penplc- Relig- inn shares all efthesc characteristics- 1 Religion r'rtireletes beliefs that take the fem: nfrr'tnnl's'aen' practises. Ml religiens thus hare a behaviuural aspect — special activities in which believers take part and Ihal idenliflr them as members ni the religietts eamrnunity. 3 Pariteps must l'mpertttnt. rsil'gl'ee pre- ehtes a sense efptepese — a feeling that life Is ttltltnatelt' nteaitlrtgful. It clues se in.- esplalning eelterertth' anel eurnpel- lingly Iwhat transcends er evershadews everyday life. in wars that ether aspeets nf culture tsueh as an educatinnal system er a belief in derrtneracy] typi- cally cannnt I'Geerta IETE: Wuthne'tv 19313:]- 1t'lu'hat is absent Fran-I the sncinlngica] deli- nitien efreligjenis asirnpnrtant as what is included: nnwhere is there menlien nl‘ '._.-i.','|.'§'_'r'| Itijllilfiii I“ c'IILI lt-ll find. We often think offlreism. a beliefin one or more supernatural deities [the term originates from the Greelt word for God}. as basie to religion. but this is not necessarily the case. Its we shall see later. some religions. such as Buddhism. believe in the existence of spiritual force-s rather than a particular Liod. Hers sociologists thins: about religion When eeeleleglsts study religlen. tltey nu se as seeielegists and net as believers [er tlishetleyersi In any particular faith- This stanee has several Implieattens [er the seeielegieal stutly elreliglen: | Snefoiogists ere nor mneernnd with trllrerirer refigr'nifi heifeJI'i' :1 re trite orjrriee. From a soeiologiea] perspeelive. relig- ions are regarded not as being deereed by God but as being soeially ennstrueled by human beings. as a resull. soeiologists put aside their personal beliefs when they study religion. They are concerned with the human rather than the divine aspects of religion. Sociologists asit.‘ How is the religion organized? 1i'iihat are its principal beliels and values? How is it related to the la rger society? 'i'il'hat esp talns its sueeess er failure in rem-nit- lag and retaining leelieversi' The tluestlen efvshethere pa rtieuler eeliel ls ‘geetl' er 'tnte'. he's-ever Important It may he re the believers ef the religien under stutly. is not something that seeieteglsts are ahle to address as sociologists. [As individu- als. they may have strongopininns an the rnatter.butonehopesthat as soeiologists they ean keep these opinions from hiasingtheir research-i 2 Sociologfsn are espeefelfy concerned with the soer'nl' organization of reis'gt'on. Religion in l'tI'loden'I Society 535 Religions are among the most impor- tant inslituliorls in soeiet'y. They are a primary source ofthe rnost deep-seated norms and values- fit the sarne lime. religions are typically praetised through an enormous variety of social I'orms. 1i'il'ilhin Uhrislianity and Judaism. for example, religious practice often occurs in formal organisations. such as churches or synagogues 1I'et this is not necessarily true of such Asian religions as Hinduism and Buddhism, Int'here rellgleus praettees are likely te eeeur in the he me or same other natural setting. The snelelegy of religion Ls eeneerneti with have different rellgle us institutions and erganisatiens aetually function. The earliest European raligiens were often indistinguishable from the larger society. as religious beliefs and praetioes 'tvere ineorporated into daily life. This is still true in many parts of the world today. In modem industrial society. however. religions have become estab- lished in separate. often bureaucratic. organisations. and so sociologists focus on the organisations through whieh religions must operate in order to survive [Hammond 1592i. .‘ts we shall see below. this institutionalization has even letl same seelelegists te view relig- iens In the Unitetl States and Euro pe as similar te business erganleatiens. eenr- peting with one anether fer raentlaers [Warner less]. 3 Sociologists often view religions es r: ntejnr rot-tree ofsner'nl' .niffd'erity. Tin the extent that religions provide believers with a eomrnon set of norms and values. they are an important snuree of soeial solidarity. Religious beliefs. ritualsand bonds help to createa‘moral community' in which all members I..--.':|.'."_-.'I Igjitici: I“ (I .|.'.'| It'll 53-5 know how to behave towards one anothcr EWuthnow IElEBl- If a single religion dominates a society. it may be an importanl soureeoisocial stability. If a society's members adhere to nu mer- ous corn peting religions. however. religious dilletenees may lead to desta- bilizing social conflicts. lie-cent catam- ples olteligious confLIet withlo a society between Sikhs. Hindus and Muslims in India.‘ clashes int: lude stniggles betweetl Musllms and Christians in Bosnia ontt other parts at the former 1I'ugoslavla: and 'hate crlmes' against laws. Muslims and other religious mlnortttes tn the United States. a Sociologists heart to curtain the appeal of nrit'gt'oa in harms of social format no titer that: in terms ofptrrcty personal. spiri- tual or psychological foam-rs. For many people. tcligious belier arc a dccply personal experience. involving a strong scnsc of connection with Forces that transccnd cvcryday rcality. Sociologists do not question the depth ol such leel— iogs and experiences. but they are unlilsely to limit themselves to a purely spiritual explanation of religious com- m itmeut. t't. person may claim that he or she became religlous when God sud- denly appeared in a vista a. hut sociolo- glsts are liltely to look [or more earthly esptanations. Some researchers argue that people ol'teu 'get rellglou' when their lundamental sense of a social order ls threatened by economic hard- ship. loneliness, loss or griel, physical sulfeting. or poor health [Berger lEIE'i': Schwartz 19TH: Glocls IEI'i'E: Stark and Elainhridge loss]. In explaining the appeal of religious movements. sociolo- gists are more likely to locus on the probleros ofthc social order than onthc RELIGION ll'l MDDERN SlIIIl:|EI"Ir psychological response of the individ- ual. Theories of religion Sociological approaches to religion are still stronglyinllueneed by the ideas olthe three 'classieal' sociological theorists: Mars. [Jurltheim anti 't'risber. None ol the three was himself religious. and all thought that the significance of religion Would tlecreuse in modern times. Each heltevee'l that retlgton ts In a fundamental sense an illusion. The advocates ofdlfierr ent faiths may he wholly persuaded of the vatlttlty ol'the Ioelleis they hold and the rltuals In which they participate. 1pet The very diversity of religions and their obvious connection to different types of society. the three thinkers held. make these claims inherently implausiblc. An individual horn into an Australian society of hunters and gathcrcrs would plainly havc difletcnt religious bclicis from someone born into the caste system ol [ntlia or the Calholit: Eli urel't of medieval Europe. However. as we shall see below. although the classical sociologists agreed in this respect. they developed 1very difler— ent theories when it came to studying the role ofreltglou in society. l't-ia rs: religion and in equality in spite of his Influence on the subject. Karl Mart-t never stttdled religion In any detail. His ideas mostly derived from The writings of several early nineteenth- ecntury theological and philosophical authors. fine ol these was Ludwig Feucr— lsach,whouo'nte a lainous wotlt called Tire Essence of Christianiq HEIE‘F]. According to Feucrbacl't. religion consists ol ideas and values produced by human beings in '.s--.':|.'."_-r| Itijltit'x: I“ (tier lt-ll the ceurse eE their cultural develnprn ent. but mistakenly preieeted en te divine I'erees er geds Because human beings de nnt I'ully understand their ewn histery. they tend te attribute seeially created values and nerrns te the activities el'geds- Thus the stery ei'the ten eemrnandrnents given in Meses by Lied is a mythical I.-'ers|t.1n elthe urigln til the mural preeepts which gevern the lives el' Jewish and Christianbelievers. Se leng as We tltJ ttet understand the nature ef the retigleue eytttheie we eur- eelvee have eree tee. Feuerhaeh argues. we are eendemned tn heprisenerseffereee ef histeiy we eatmet eentre]. Fe ueieeeh uses the term 'ttiientttien' te reler te The estab- lishing er geds nr divine ferces distinct [rem human heings. Huntattly created values and ideas ceme te be seen as the preduet ei' alien er separate beings —re|ig- ieus t'e reea and geds. 1t'tl‘hile the efi'eets tit" alienalien have in the past been negative. the understanding ei religien as aliena- Iien. aceerding: te Feuerhach. premises great hepe [er the Future. Unce human beings realise that the values prejeetetl tJTt Ie religien are really their ewn. these values beeeme capable el' realizatien en thls earth. rather than being deferred In an afterltl'e. The pet-vets believed te be pes- eeseet‘t by fled in Christianity een be appreprlatee tty human beings them- selves. Chiletlane believe that whtte fled ts ell-pewerful end ell-letting. human helngs themselves are imperfeet and flawed- Hetvever. the pnlenlial fer [eve and gend- ness and the pewer tn eentrnl nur ewn lives. Feucrliach believed. are present in human sneial instilutinns and can he breught tel Eruitien once we understand their true nature. Mars accepted the view that religien Religien in l'tI'leden'I Seeiety 53? represents human self-alienatinn. ]t is ehen believed that Mars was dismissive ef religien. but this is far freni true. Helig‘ien. he writes. is the 'heart eia heartless werld' — a haven frerrt the harshness ef daily reality. In Marx's view. religien in its tradi- tienal lerrn will. and sheuld. disappear; yet this is because the pesitive values embudled in religlen ean heeen't e guiding ideals i'er im praying the let ei' humanity e n this earth. net beea use these ideals and tu'alues themselves are tttlstaken. We she-eie'l net fearthe gees wee u reeivee have ereeterl. and we sheulrl eeeee endewtng them with valueswee u rseivee eeu realise. Merit declared. In a t'anteus phrase. that eeligien has been the 'eeium et the panpie‘. Tieliginn delere happiness and rewards Ie the alterlife. teaching the resigned acceptance el' existing eendi- tiens in this lit'e_i"ttlentien is thus diverted away t'rerrt inequalities and injustiee—s in this 'tverld by the premise ef what is te eerne in the next. Heligien has a streng ideelegical element: religieus beliefs and values elten previde justificatiens el inequalities tJi' wealth antl th'tver. Fer esam pie. the teaching that 'tI'te rneel: shall inherit the earth' suggests attitudes el humility and nen-resistanee ttJ apples- eten. Durkheim:fimerieneiism and raiigieus rinse! In eentreet te Mars. Emlte Durkheim spent a geeti pert ef his Intelleetuel eateer studying religien. enncentrating particu- larly nn religien in small-scale. traditinnal seeieties- Durltheirn's werlr. The Elemen- tary Farms- nj rite Heligietts life [It-'ti'fi [lfl]2]i, is ene eF the rnest influential studies in the st:u:ieieg.r ef reiigien. Durlt- heim dees net cenneet religien prirnarily '-3-L':|.';'_-.-I ightee: I“ g. .l_-' Ilc'll 533 RELIGIGH ll'l HDDERN EIJIEIET‘Ir with social inequalities or power. but relates it to the overall nature olthe insti- tutions ofa society He bases h is work on a stL|.d:,.I of totemism as practised hyflustra- lian r'thoriginai societies. and he argues that internists represents religion in its most ‘elemcnlarglrr or simple lorm — hence die title ol his bottle a. totem was originally an [Il‘llmiii or planttalten as having particular symbolic signifloanoe for a group. it is a stirred object. regarded with venerarten and sur- rauneleet by various ritual actlvltles. Durkheim: defines religion in terms at" a distinction henveen the sacred and the profane. Sacred chiects and symbols. he holds. are treated as open” from the routine aspects of estateiice. which are the realm of the profane- Eating the totemic animal or plant. except on special ceremonial oocascions. is usually forbidden. and as a sacred object the totem is believed to have divine proper- ties which separate it completely from other animals that might be hunted. or crops gathered and consumed. ‘t'il'hy is the totem sacred? humming to Durkheim. it is because it is the symbol of the group itsell; it stands for the values central to ihe group or community. The reverence which people feel [or Ute totem actually derives from the respect they hold for central sociai values in religion. the object of worship is actually society itself. Durkheim strongly emphasised that religions are never Just a matter of belief. All retiglon involves regular ceremonial and ritual activities in which a group of believers meets together. In collective ccr— emonials. a sense of group solidarity is alfirmed and heightened- Ceremonials to It: individuals away...
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