Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sociology of Religion

 The external courses of religious behavior are so diverse that an understanding of this behavior can only be achieved from the viewpoint of the subjective experiences, notion, and purposes of the individuals concerned--in short, from the viewpoint of the religious behavior's "meaning."

A power thought by analogy to human possessed by a soul may be coerced into the service of human, just as the naturalistic "power" of a spirit could be coerced. Whoever possesses charisma for employing the proper means is stronger even than the god, whom he can coerce to do his desire. In these cases, religious behavior is not "worshipping the god" but rather "coercing the god," and invocation is not prayer but magical formulae. Such is one ineradicable basis of popular religion, particularly in India. Indeed, such magical coercion is universally diffused, and even the Catholic priest continues to practice something of this magical power in executing the miracle of the mass and in exercising the power of the keys. By and large this is the origin, though not exclusive, of the orgiastic and imitative components of the religious cult especially of song, dance, drama, and the typical fixed formulae of prayer.
Humanization of the god, by analogy of the human behavior, may also take the form of a mighty terrestrial lord, whose discretionary favor can be obtained by entreaty, gifts, service, tributes, adulation, and bribes. Or god's favor may be earned as a consequence of the obedient attitude conformed with the his will. In these ways, the gods are conceived by analogy to earthly rulers: mighty beings whose power differs only in degree, at least at first. As this type of god develops, the concept of "worship" comes to be necessary.

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