A Sociology of Religious Emotion by Linda Woodhead, Ole Riis

By Linda Woodhead, Ole Riis

This well timed booklet goals to alter the way in which we expect approximately faith by way of placing emotion again onto the time table. It demanding situations an inclination to over-emphasise rational facets of faith, and rehabilitates its embodied, visceral and affective dimensions. opposed to the view that non secular emotion is a merely deepest subject, it deals a brand new framework which indicates how spiritual feelings come up within the various interactions among human brokers and non secular groups, human brokers and items of devotion, and groups and sacred symbols. It offers parallels and contrasts among spiritual feelings in eu and American background, in different cultures, and in modern western societies. through taking feelings heavily, A Sociology of non secular Emotion sheds new mild at the energy of faith to form primary human orientations and motivations: hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, loves and hatreds.

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We have no clear touchstones by which to identify our feelings; the causes of those feelings are often mixed or unclear, and our language for expressing them is inadequate. Rosenberg (1990) analyses the various means by which we try to make sense of our emotional experience: by trying to identify the causes of our emotion, searching out social consensus (for example, what others feel about the situation, what similar cultural scenarios tell us), and thinking through the consequences of making one interpretation rather than another.

Nevertheless, it is the social group itself that provides the main fuel of such collective effervescence; it must gather regularly to refresh the symbolic object’s power. Simmel (1912/1997, 1989/1997) parallels Durkheim in his appreciation of the role of social groups in generating religious emotions, but considers a wider range of social situations than ritualized gatherings, and gives greater weight to symbolic objects in the cultivation of religious emotion. For Simmel (1997: 119) the ‘power and depth’ of religion are found in its ‘persistent ability to draw a given item of religious data into the flow of the emotions, whose movements it must renew constantly, like the perpetually changing drops of water that beget the stable image of the rainbow’.

This turns people into voyeuristic consumers of second-hand, displaced, manufactured, and manipulated emotions. ‘Citizens’ are caught up in public spectacles staged by opinion-makers and spin doctors who sell their campaigns by engineering synthetic feelings. ‘Dead’ emotions from nostalgia-infused tradition are purveyed as objects to be consumed. Under these conditions, anger becomes indignation, envy becomes craving, hate becomes malice, loving becomes liking, caritas becomes tolerance, and sorrow becomes 36 Emotion: A Relational View upset and discomfort.

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