The Providence of God in Organization: Solidarity of the Sacred and Secular

August 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

In 1905 Weber argued that Puritan ethics and ideas influenced the growth of capitalism. Weber clarified the paradox that religious devotion generally came with a rejection of wealth and possessions by defining spirit of capitalism as the idea that certain types of Protestantism favored rational pursuit of economic gain and that worldly activities had been given positive spiritual and moral meaning. Weber traced origins of the Protestant ethic to the Reformation, though he acknowledged respect for secular everyday labor as early as the Middle Ages. Durkheim (1915) deemed the boundary between sacred and the profane to be the fundamental distinctive of religion: “religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden.” The profane, in contrast, involved commonplace individual concerns. Durkheim explicitly stated that both sacred and profane could be either good or evil. Weber lamented the loss of religious underpinning to capitalism’s spirit led to an involuntary servitude of man to mechanized industry. It is within this context in which I see a need to position a research program. There is a huge need to use sociology of religion and organization theory to study the tensions between the sacred and secular, church and business.

The reason for an investigation is that the church fails to improve the business community’s gift of engaging with the sacred in daily business. The Church should be the best resource we have for leading an integrated and balanced business life; however competitive dynamics between the sacred and secular have led the church and business to separation. There needs to be a research program seeks to discover how church and business can work together for the profit of people both inside and outside the church.


Durkheim, Emile. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, (1912, English translation by Joseph Swain: 1915) The Free Press, 1965., new translation by Karen E. Fields 1995

Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and “The Spirit of Capitalism” (Penguin Books, 2002) translated by Peter Baehr and Gordon C. Wells, pp.9-12


Sociology of Religion, Miscellaneous (3/3)

August 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Contending Modernities Based on the premise that Catholic, Muslim, and secular modernities each bring distinctive resources to the task of illuminating and resolving an array of characteristically modern problems, the project will examine the dynamic co-existence and competition of these “multiple modernities”—as well as the conflicts and contentions among them—with the aim of opening “new paths for constructive engagement between and among religion and secular people and institutions.”

God endures, even as religion wanes The nature of the American religious experience is changing as a rising number of people report having no formal religious affiliation, even though the number of Americans who say they pray is increasing, according to a new survey.

The Future of Religion As new forms of worship and belief continue to evolve in the twenty-first century, we have asked thought leaders from a variety of religious traditions to talk about the future of religion.

Religious America, Secular Europe? A Theme and Variations This slim volume is a useful compendium of contrasting observations about religion in Europe and the United States. Each chapter contains sensible summaries of major issues such as the impact of state churches, the class correlates of religion, differences in education and legal systems, and the gender difference in religious commitment.

Social Sources of the Spirit: Connecting Rational Choice and Interactive Ritual Theories in the Study of Religion This study synthesizes interactive ritual theory with the rational choice concept of strictness, which highlights the level of behavioral prohibitions religious groups place on adherents.

Religion as a catalyst of rationalization For Habermas, religion has been a continuous concern precisely because it is related to both the emergence of reason and the development of a public space of reason-giving. Religious ideas, according to Habermas, are never mere irrational speculation. Rather, they possess a form, a grammar or syntax, that unleashes rational insights, even arguments; they contain, not just specific semantic contents about God, but also a particular structure that catalyzes rational argumentation.

Secularism, secularization, and why the difference matters First, there is the completion of the process of the differentiation—or rationalization—of social spheres. Second, in order to prevent the undeniable effectiveness of “steering mechanisms” from overpowering all other potential social aims including the “semantic potentials” of religious beliefs and their ethical systems, would need to be preserved through a process of “communicative action” that based such beliefs on rational argumentation alone.

Religious Giving and the Boundedness of Rationality We develop a model of religious giving that is based on ideas from recent studies of bounded rationality and related concepts, heuristics, religious identification, and theological–interpersonal interactions. In general, we predict that the positive association between religious service attendance, importance of religion, or beliefs about the bible and religious giving is conditioned by the strictness of the group.

Motivations for and Obstacles to Religious Financial Giving This paper extends previous findings on religion and generosity by developing and assessing a conceptual typology of potential motivations for and obstacles to religious giving.

Sociology of Religion, Miscellaneous (2/3)

August 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Roger Finke on Religious Persecution takes us on a journey around the globe to discover how and why religious persecution arises in some nations but not others. Prof. Finke makes the argument that religious liberty is a vital component of all civil liberties in society.

tocqueville’s religion Tocqueville saw the two institutional forces, religion and democracy, as being linked through more than just associations. Religion is thus vitally beneficial, but not only because it equalizes. It also places crucial checks on equality’s equalizing tendencies—it cleans up its own joyous mess.

The Political Influence of Churches Alexis de Tocqueville called religion America’s “first political institution” and this book shows us why. It will be required reading for religion and politics scholars, whatever their discipline, but will also appeal to anyone concerned with the mechanisms of political influence

American Civil Religion and the Gospel of Jesus Christ (David Rogers) My main point in all of this, though, is that no form of civil religion, whether that favored by political conservatives or liberals, is the equivalent of the biblical gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. And, the moment we begin to mix the concepts of spiritual revival and Christian unity in with civil religion, we have seriously compromised the exclusivity of the Christian faith.

Catholicism, conservatism, and antihumanist politics French antihumanism, in its theoretical mode, was based on a radicalized “negative anthropology,” i.e., the idea that man is a negating animal

How a Hollywood Church Appropriates Religion for Workers in the Creative Class The “creative class” is a growing stratum of American labor consisting of nomadic workers who master self-promotion for economic survival. Using ethnographic and interview data from a Los Angeles church with a majority of attenders working in the entertainment industry, the paper demonstrates how a congregation oriented around a softer form of Word of Faith/Prosperity theology provides moral guidance for creative class believers T.

Why Evangelicals Like Wal-Mart: Education, Region, and Religious Group Identity This paper tests the influence of evangelical identity upon a particular social issue by investigating Americans’ attitudes about Wal-Mart—a company that has historically appealed to evangelicals but not higher-status Americans.

Becoming an Atheist in America: Constructing Identity and Meaning from the Rejection of Theism This study explores the identity formation process of self-avowed atheists in the context of American culture. I argue that an atheist identity is an achieved identity, and one that is constructed in social interaction.

The Sociology of Religion: A Substantive and Transdisciplinary Approach How does the sociology of religion differ from other academic approaches to religion?

X-studies and the “trivialization” of disciplinary scholarship « For instance, there is the sociology of religion, and there are “religious studies.” This also seems to agree with my impression that the work done under the interdisciplinary banner tends to be a little loosey-goosey, more descriptive and generally less interesting (with exceptions) than its more disciplinary classical or post-classical counterparts.

Sociology of Religion, Miscellaneous (1/3)

August 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

Demographics, Diversity, Leadership and the Church–Mega and Mini David Van Biema’s article,“Can Megachurches Bridge the Racial Divide?” is a positive look at Bill Hybel’s and  Willow Creek‘s efforts at diversifying a once all-white suburban congregation.

A Place to Belong: Small Group Involvement in Religious Congregations Large congregations are commonly criticized as eliciting less involvement from adherents than smaller congregations. This study tests the relevance of small groups to individuals’ commitment and participation, particularly in large congregations. David Van Biema’s article,“Can Megachurches Bridge the Racial Divide?” is a positive look at Bill Hybel’s and  Willow Creek‘s efforts at diversifying a once all-white suburban congregation.

Men Don’t Follow Programs Men don’t follow programs; they follow men. The simple fact is that men want to follow men—real men, admirable men, men who are worth following. If you want to have a solid church—a church that has strong, masculine men within it (which is the exception rather than the rule within the Evangelical church) you need to have strong, masculine, godly leadership. Without this kind of leadership a church will inevitably wither and fade.

on the value of religious experience to sociology The short answer is that religious experience is an amazingly widespread social phenomenon, and it has a sui generis quality to it that makes it difficult to explain without some sort of experiential link.

“It doesn’t matter if you believe in God. What matters is if God believes in you.” After reading a book or article in the scientific study of religion, I [Chaves] wonder if you ever find yourself thinking, “I just don’t believe it.” I have this experience uncomfortably often, and I think it’s because of a pervasive problem in the scientific study of religion. I want to describe that problem and how to overcome it.

Unity and Solidarity When we say all this, though, it is important to understand what Christian unity really means. There are several related concepts that, although similar, are not the same thing as unity. One of these is solidarity.

Pentecotalism, the Assemblies of God, and Godly Love exploring the general category of Pentecostalism, looking at both the history and characteristics of this fast-growing faith movement, and comparing it to evangelical Christianity.  Poloma notes that although Pentecostalism is commonly referred to as a denomination, it maintains a rather loose “umbrella” structure that contains a number of different theological and stylistic identities.

Space for God: Lived Religion at Work, Home, and Play Despite modernity’s attempt to structure religion out of many social domains, people still make space for God—the sacred, spirituality, religion, transcendence, etc.—in their everyday lives. Religion may be less apparent at times, but it is not altogether absent and continues to show up beyond its taken-for-granted boundaries.

Eric Carter on Religion & the NFL discuss his work about the various troubles that professional football players face and how religion may help to mediate these problems.

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