Peter Berger's The Sacred Canopy

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Heavily influenced by Max Weber, Peter Berger was interested in finding the meaning of social structures. This theme is apparent throughout his book The Sacred Canopy (1967), in which he drew on the sociology of knowledge to explain the sociological roots of religious beliefs. His main goal is to convince readers that religion is a historical product, it is created by us, yet also has the power to govern us. Society is a human product. Berger made it very clear from the beginning, that society is a dialectic phenomenon; it was produced by us and in return, produced us too. Mankind does not come into the world with everything already made sense, we give ‘sense’ and meanings to those things. It is a dialectic process that requires three steps: 1) Externalizations; 2) Objectivation; and 3) Internalization. Collectively we made a world for ourselves, we learn how to relate to and shape the…show more content…
It is a convenient and comforting respond to unfortunate and even devastating ‘fate’. The pain becomes bearable to those who suffer because the idea of all being a part of a bigger plan, it is more than you. However, this concept is built upon an irrational fundamental attitude, “the surrender of self to the ordering power of society,” (54) a problem that Berger expressed his concerns with. Another problem would be that the use of God as a shield works on believers, but not on nonbelievers. The question “why bad things happening to good people” still cannot be answered for the nonbelievers, a common critique of religion itself. Regardless of the problem of theodicy, however, religion has worked really well to create and maintain the reality. Berger explains that it is because religion legitimates effectively. “Religion has been the historically most widespread and effective instrumentality of legitimation…. it relates the precarious reality constructions of empirical societies with ultimate reality.”

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