Impacts and Transformations of Agents, Institutions, and Social Systems-- Capitalism, State, and Democracy in a Global Context
Edited By Tom R. Burns and Peter M. Hall
C H A P T E R 10: Kevin L. McElmurry and Peter M. Hall: Meta-power, Staging Work, and Constructing a Religious Experience
379 C H A P T E R 1 0 Meta-power, Staging Work, and Constructing a Religious Experience Kevin L. McElmurry and Peter M. Hall Introduction For the observant, going to a church, synagogue, mosque, or any religious/spiritual event may often be a common, taken-for–granted, and structured occasion. These events often consist mainly of a repetition of ordered elements; greetings, an- nouncements, songs sung with or without accompaniment, readings and responses, prayers, sermons, and collections. While the contents may vary among traditions and with the particular season, corporate worship is generally a routine situation for adherents. Take the practice of Christianity in the United States for example. Using data from his National Congregations Study Mark Chaves (2004) points out that for most Americans practicing their faith within religious institutions means gathering with others once a week to sing, pray, and listen to a speech. However, like any col- lectively performed activity, religious practices require some measure of deliberate planning, construction, and coordination. Here we draw attention to how those rit- ualized gathering events are actively created, coordinated, and produced. In the current religious marketplace (c.f. Warner 1993) many innovators see themselves in relationship with competing religious organizations; each working to grow by attracting people who have either lapsed their attendance and need to be rejuvenated or those who have little history with religious institutions. The view of some institutional innovators is that the more traditional religious forms, practices and content are no longer effective in attracting adherents. Since the...
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