Summary Of Peter Berger's The Sacred Canopy

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Heavily influenced by Max Weber, Peter Berger was interested in the meaning of social structures. Berger’s concern with the meaning societies give to the world 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 and 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 to the world with everything made sense already, 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 it is all part of a bigger plan, it is more than ‘you’. This concept is also built upon an irrational fundamental attitude, “the surrender of self to the ordering power of society.” (54) The problem of theodicy does not end at 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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