How cultural meanings reflect and change direction of organizational interests of those who create, maintain and disseminate culture.
Webers The Sociology of Religion (1991 ) is his fullest explanation of how ideas shape human action.
Weber assumes people pursue their interests. But in their pursuit people use ideas.
Weber tries to show is how ideas come to define the very world within which interests can be formulated.
Webers focus of theoretical concern is human beings acting on their interests, as they understand them.
Interests always influence the development of religion but ideas, in turn, shape what peoples interests are.
Religious roles: e.g., laypersons, priests, prophets, magicians, and mystagogues.
Charisma: mainly a quality of the individual that places him or her above normal expectations and endows him or her with the authority to utter new commandments; it is a relational concept because it comes into existence only when it is recognized by a group.
Prophet: "a purely individual bearer of charisma, who by virtue of his mission proclaims a religious doctrine of divine commandment."
It is "the personal call" that is "the decisive element" that distinguishes "the prophet from the priest."
The priests authority is based on his or her service to a sacred tradition.
In contrast, the prophets authority is based on "personal revelation and charisma."
Unlike magicians prophets claim "definite revelations."
Core of a prophets mission: a doctrine about how to live, not magic.
What most distinguishes the prophet from priests and magicians "is an economic factor": prophets (e.g., Amos) dont get paid for their prophecies.
What distinguishes Hebrew prophecy is that it seeks social reform on religious grounds.
Jesus, Zoroaster, & Muhammad werent interested in social reform in itself. They were interested interpreting sufferingin other words, finding or making meaning out of human existence.
Most crucial mark of prophecy: the prophet "is never found where the proclamation of a religious truth of salvation through personal revelation is lacking."
Mystagogue: someone who knows secret rites of initiation (e.g., Gnostics).
Main difference between prophets & mystagogues: the latter dont have ethical doctrines.
Two kinds of prophets: ethical & emissary.
Ethical prophet: primarily and instrument of the proclamation of a god and his will.
Since he or she is preaching what god revealed to him or her personally, the ethical
prophet demands obedience as ethical duty (e.g., Muhammed).
Exemplary prophet, e.g., Buddha, is a man or woman, who, by personal example, "demonstrates to others the way to religious salvation."
What is perhaps most important for Weber about a prophet is that to a prophet, both humanity and the world, both social and cosmic events, "have a coherent meaning." And to this meaning, the social arrangements and actions of human beings must be oriented for salvation to occur. For it is only in relation to this meaning that life obtains its point and significance.
To Weber, the ultimate metaphysical question is, and always has been: "if the world as a whole and life in particular were to have a meaning, what might it be, and how would the world have to look in order to correspond to it?"
Campbell & Pettigrew, "Racial and Moral Crisis: The Role of the Little Rock Ministers," American Journal of Sociology 64 March 1959: 509-516.
Race CrisisLittlerock, Arkansas 1957
Issue: School Desegregation
Campbell and Pettigrew interviewed 29 white ministers
16 "inactive integrationists"
eight "active integrationists"
All ministers had segregationist congregations
Key conclusion: a large number did not encourage their members to define the issue as religious, nor did they initiate actions or participate in programs aimed at integration. And of those liberal ministers who defended integration and condemned those who supported segregation it was their "personal integrity" alone that led them to do so.
Crucial point: obligation to consider the expectations of their church membership.
"When an individual is responsible to a public," Campbell and Pettigrew wrote, "we distinguish three [reference] systems as relevant to his [or her] behavior:
Ministers main goal: maximize support from all members.
Church hierarchy doesnt want to see divided congregations, reduced membership or decreased contributions.
Informal rationales begin to creep in unnoticed such as "Its okay to be liberal, boys; just dont stick your neck out." "Dont lose your congregation." "Things take time." "You cant change people overnight." "You cant talk to people when they wont listen."
In such circumstances, the progressive positions of the national church on racial matters loses much force.
Three kinds of institutional responsibilities:
When crisis occurs certain assumptions the minister makes come into play that foster gradualism. The minister is set up not to want to risk alienating those he or she wishes to change.
What Campbell and Pettigrew found surprising was that a small number of Little Rock ministers actually fought for the civil rights of Black people in the face of strong opposition from their congregations, threats of reprisals and lukewarm support or even "quiet discouragement from their superiors and peers."