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The detailed nature of the ritual procedures are essential to it as is the social network which is woven around the rite. This exposition acts as an introduction to the analysis of Pentecostalism and neo-Pentecostalism, which represent unprecedented forms of religiosity in which the supernatural is present.

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But here the exchange is with the church itself and not with supernatural entities. Pentecostalism is part of a tendency throughout the Western world which has left inclusive religions like Catholicism and Anglicanism stagnating, while the more exclusionary, those which demand substantial sacrifice of their followers, are gaining ground. Keywords: Ritual, Pentecostalism, Popular religion, shamanism, Catholicism. Hope, like its twin, despair, is obviously an enduring and pervasive human emotion, and one common feature of religion in its innumerable forms is surely that it is sought by people in search of hope and of relief from despair.

But religion changes, and I will argue in the following pages that by examining some of the ways in which religion responds to despair and provides hope we can learn about how religion is changing in quite fundamental ways. I think that cognitive anthropologists and psychologists have given us good reason to believe that a common core does exist. The cognitivists are dealing not with institutionalized religion but rather with how we invoke, mobilize and relate to the supernatural or how the supernatural is built into our evolution.

This is manifested in popular religion, not in institutionalized religion. Popular religion does have common features across cultures and through time, because of its deep involvement with curing or preventing illness, with warning of and warding off rumour and gossip, with divining and controlling the future and with life after death and how survivors deal with the loss of their kin.

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Cognitive psychology , as applied to religion in the work of Boyer and Atran Boyer ; Atran ; Boyer ; Lehmann tells us that these accounts rely on several evolved modes of operation of the brain: one is the inclination to search for agency in explaining obscure and disconcerting phenomena: this is essential to enable us to survive but it can also be excessive, as in paranoia. The trouble is that one cannot always trust the shaman to be impartial. Risk plus uncertainty plus information combine with plausible advice especially in areas where certainty is not an option.

Of those with an evolutionary history, some parts plausibly have an adaptive story, while others are more likely by-products. Dealing with the uncertainties of gossip, illness and death requires experts and specialists, so individuals carve out or inherit or gain access to expert roles with esoteric knowledge and access to the supernatural realm. And so we must add ritual and exchange.

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Ritual institutionalizes or essentializes a practice, marking it as standard procedure but also introducing extensive elements which are not present for any practical reason related to the context, but fix social roles in relation to the procedure: ritual should induce trust and it also should confer privileged knowledge on the part of the person performing it. In our relationship with the supernatural the exchange is also ritualized so that the successes of the past can be repeated and the failures explained. In explaining how religion - which has ritual as an indispensable component - manages hope and hopelessness, ritual and exchange are intimately connected.

So long as you have done what had to be done - i. The ritual distributes roles, thus evoking reciprocity in others, be they those who suffer the misfortune directly or those who are linked to the sufferers. The stricter the requirements of the ritual the higher the cost, but as the ritual becomes more costly so more participants are required and more people can join in support.

If the central figure is a celebrity , enjoys a cult of personality, then people may be prepared to pay a higher cost, even pay with their lives, but more usually the cost is low because of the uncertain outcome, balanced by the comfort of shared reciprocity. In a ritual involving exchange with a supernatural agent there is always an intermediary: a medium, or an institution like the Church.

These exchanges have to be public: just as a Pentecostal cannot claim to have received the Holy Spirit in private, a vision of the Virgin Mary is of no value if it is not recognised, and an exorcism, for example has to be witnessed.

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Ruth Harris has described how the vision of Bernadette near Lourdes replicated quite a commonplace occurrence in an impoverished mountain culture , but became what it became because of a concatenation of circumstances and interests which led the Church to make it into a vision of the Virgin Harris Although millions of Christians make offerings of their own, they do so with the blessing of the institution and usually in a church. In non-institutionalized religious cultures the intermediary wields real, sometimes frightening power.

There is always an answer and reassessments go round and round in a never-ending circle. So paranoia is fed, but so also social actors have an incentive to try to create trust and institutions. And so this sort of religion handles, manipulates and perpetuates the hope and hopelessness of individuals. It was classically described by Evans-Pritchard for the Zande, though he studiously avoids mentioning emotions such as hopelessness at all: for the Zande, in his account, witchcraft is an everyday matter of social and physical explanation.

But the ambiguity is patently present, as when he describes how oracles may lie - and how everyone knows that they are lying - in circumstances when to do otherwise would require them to reveal that someone has broken a taboo and thus provoked a crisis in interpersonal relations Evans-Pritchard They would pretend to their neighbours that they were avenging their kinsmen and after some months would hang up the barkcloth of mourning as a sign that vengeance was accomplished, for they would not wish people to know that their kinsman was a witch. Evans-Pritchard 7. So not only is it not known whether the prince or the witch are telling the truth - the victims themselves are possibly witches and even the prince is complicit in keeping that secret.

One way of coping with these uncertainties is to raise the stakes in the exchange with supernatural entities, proffering ever more gifts to propitiate. On the other hand, maybe there is simply a shared desire not to publicize acute conflicts until they have been resolved, as in Joel Robbins' account of the conversion and subsequent religious life of a tiny community in Papua New Guinea - the Urapmin.

The Urapmin made a major ritual performance out of confession - which for them was a public statement of transgressions, but the innumerable sins they recited in extended and very frequent public meetings in their church building, these were mostly trivialities. When a transgression - a sin as they called it - was serious and affected the stability of their own social relationships, for example an extra-marital affair, then they waited for it to pass or to be resolved before confessing it Robbins So although witchcraft and supernatural punishment can be frightening, they do not obviate the need for collective institutional management of social relations.

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The implicit contrast is with the Abrahamic religious traditions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. They provide a soteriology, an eschatology, a narrative about life and death in general, a set of abstract principles for living one's life, and an ethos, as well as elaborate institutions of social order: laws, judges, councils etc..

These religions offer hope to the hopeless in different ways, and on a far, far grander scale than shamans and possession cults. Instead of a cure for your stomach pains or revenge on your enemies, they offer unlimited happiness and prosperity for generation after generation, and for eternity.


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  5. And how does one earn this bounty? Not by making ever greater donations, nor by upping the stakes in reciprocity, but just by obeying commands, and following laws. And what of the punishments for the disobedience of a stiff-necked people? In the Book of Deuteronomy Chapter 28 has 68 verses, of which 14 tell of the wonderful blessings which will come upon the people if they diligently observe all God's commandments.

    But the rest of the chapter lists curses. The Babylonians are not mentioned: they are the mere instruments of God's wrath against his disobedient people. Neither the Prophet Jeremiah, presumed author of Lamentations, nor the other Old Testament Prophets, needed a magician to convince themselves, or to convince their followers.

    Folk religion

    When misfortune struck the explanation was not individual and the remedy did not lie in ritual or charms or esoteric remedies, or in casting of a curse on an enemy. The explanation was moral: the people had transgressed and God was punishing them. The remedy was in God's hands alone.

    But this is not of course the whole story, for there can hardly be a supernatural agency without supernatural intervention in human interaction - that is, without magic, and one should not forget that Israel's austere lawgiving God was not above proving his superiority by performing very earthly miracles, especially in enabling his people to triumph over their enemies and discrediting the priests who served rival gods 1.

    But the idea of a covenant, a contract, with a whole people, to ensure their future, rather than ongoing endless wheeling and dealing on an individual basis, does set the God of the Old Testament apart. The only immediate benefit was a negative and uncertain one: they mght be spared the punishments. Christianity, in contrast, provides individual salvation in the next world, so that we can never know for sure if we will be rewarded for good behaviour.

    This, again, is not a God who can be appeased by offering sacrifices and exchanges, at least not officially. It is a God who died so we might all be saved, whose grace is free and unconditional, yet whose followers established a vast apparatus which has lasted. The dialectic of the popular and the erudite. That, however, is far from the whole story, for side by side with the ethos of abnegation and sacrifice Christianity exhibits an intricate dialectic of popular and official religious practices.

    The promise of salvation is hard to sell to individuals, but the rites which are attached to it viz. Holy Communion, baptism, fiestas, saying the rosary etc. To define popular religion in any strict way is a quixotic enterprise because different approaches and problematics will define it in different ways. This is incorporated into or attached to official rituals: for example godparents are brought to baptism in the expectation that they will take on some obligations to the young child.

    Of particular interest to us are activities and rituals which are a response to hopelessness or which provide hope. In Catholicism these follow the pattern of exchange: votos and ex-votos, and pilgrimages. On the one hand the French bishops and the opponents of anti-clericalism seized upon the incident to transform this obscure village into a world centre for divine healing.

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    But on the other the hierarchy has gone to great lengths to maintain control during the years since Bernadette's vision, establishing an office to certify miracles and setting such a high standard that a few years ago a bishop called for it to be relaxed in the light of competition from Pentecostals and their healing industry Le Monde , But for decades the Vatican remained sceptical, sending inquisitorial missions to the monastery and subjecting the friar to periods of withdrawal when he could neither say Mass nor preach nor hear confession - the two activities for which he was most sought after Luzzatto ; Luzzatto All sorts of political and even financial scandals arose in the little village, especially during and after World War II when it became the beneficiary of the combined support of the Christian Democratic party and Marshall Plan assistance - both interested in countering the strong influence of the Communist Party in Southern Italy at that time Tarrow Like Bernadette the friar was meticulously obedient and orthodox: he never said anything controversial apart from the claim to have received the stigmata - whose lesions have indeed been documented, though of course their cause remains forever a matter of controversy.

    Eventually John Paul II, well known for having multiplied beatifications and canonizations on an unprecedented scale, and himself a devotee of Padre Pio, beatified him and then elevated him to sainthood in In Padre Pio's body was exhumed and his hands and chest were found to be intact. Exchange with the supernatural involves a dose of ambiguity, manipulating the balance between hope and despair and insuring against failure.

    But with institutionalization the ambiguity becomes less threatening, more routinized, more consolation than cure, more discipline or doctrine than manipulation of an individual's state of mind. We see this in accounts of pilgrimage sites where a routine is established for visitors who are inclined to believe that visiting is a matter of following a routine, of participating in notionally set rituals of touching certain objects or places, of doing what they assume has to be done - assumptions which may have the most obscure origins.

    Medjugorje, located in a particularly contested part of Croatia, is the site of several instances of visions of the Virgin Mary by seers in who have remained there and continue to receive messages from her which they convey to the public in daily sessions. The content of the messages, at least as filtered by the Franciscan friars who manage the site, is inoffensive and in conformity with Church doctrine.

    By touching objects in the vicinity of the site, by taking home stones, rosaries and the like, and by physical contact with the seers, to whom they attribute quasi-medical powers p. Visitors have - inevitably - introduced curing into their routine, while the persons responsible try to strike a balance between that pressure and the risks of sanctions by the state authorities for illegal practice of medicine. Unlike Lourdes, the Medjugorje claims of visions, ongoing ever since , have not been endorsed by the Vatican, so there is no certification procedure.

    On the other hand, the Franciscans have not been punished for their involvement. The visits incorporate much standard Catholic ritual - Mass, confession - thus adding to the routinization effect and tempering hopes of instant solutions. The difficulty represented for modernism by the exchanges which lie at the heart of popular religion is well illustrated by Olivia Harris's account of a young.

    Spanish priest schooled in post-conciliar i.