The Sacred Canopy Analysis

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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 it 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;…show more content…
It is a convenient and comforting respond to an unfortunate and devastating ‘fate’. The pain becomes bearable to those who suffer because of the idea that it is all being a part of a bigger plan, it is more than just an individual. 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 happen 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. Reason being that 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.”…show more content…
He found that in a pre-Christian era, there are a few features that all the pre-Biblical polytheistic religions shared. For example, everything is connected in a single system that consisted mainly of magical forces; people believed in things that are more than human, but less than fully divine; and life is meaningful and successful if people can manipulate the supernatural forces with magical rituals. The medieval Christianity certainly changed the landscape and redefined social relations and orders. The Protestant Reformation further changed religion and our society. From individuals’ ability to read the scripture to the personal connections with God, Protestants are in many ways the sources of our secular values.
As we reflected upon the development of our society, we do see secular development as well as religious development. At this stage, it is fairly obvious that we are not in a “disenchanted” world as Weber suggested. This made me think, why were we so certain about the incompatibility of secularization and religion? Were we fundamentally mistaken about the core of religion and society? Or were we being led to believe that one’s advancement is the demise of the others, so we would stay on the ‘preferred’ path? Or was that just for the convenience of “one less thing to
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