Since Comte, social scientists have tended to assume that mod-ernization, along with a tri-umphant scientific rationality, has destroyed the legitimacy of religion as a social reality. However, this crisis of legit-imacy has never been examined in a setting where religious real-ity is affirmed. This book fills that gap, exploring the meaning of religious reality in the lives of a group of Catholic Charismatics to discover how belief is created, developed, and maintained.Charismatics, or Neo-Pentecostals, tend to be white, rela-tively affluent, well educated, and believe that they possess certain gifts including the power of healing, prophesy, discern-ment of evil spirits, and speak-ing in tongues. In describing and analyzing this religious minority, the author provides a basis for reevaluating sociological as-sumptions about religion and modernity. She asks: to what ex-tent can religion define the so-cial world? Are religious values necessarily irrelevant to most institutional contexts? Is re-ligious reality only persuasive in the context of family and pri-mary group relations? What are the tensions between religious realities and other beliefs? Her answers have implications for all ways of making sense of the world, including common sense or science.Neitz situates the Charismatic Renewal in a broader social and historical context. She examines the antecedents of Neo-Pentecostalism in American culture and compares this movement with the secular, self-awareness movement. In so doing she shows what is unique about the Charismatics, and what they share with religious prede-cessors and members of contem-porary secular movements.
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