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Peter Berger, professor emeritus of religion, sociology and theology at Boston University, examined the globalization of religious pluralism and how the peaceful coexistence of different racial, ethnic and religious groups has become a global phenomenon.
He argues that pluralism — not secularization — and the resulting emergence of religious choice is the best model for understanding religion in a globalizing world.
A question-and-answer session followed his presentation. Professor Berger has written dozens of books. Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion is one of the best books on the sociological theory of religion.
He has written about theology. One of those is called A Far Glory: He has also written on economics, international relief and development. He wrote a book called A Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural. His book on capitalism, called The Capitalist Revolutionis a tour de force.
Thank you, Peter, for coming. Coming down here from Boston I realized I could be in Istanbul if it were a direct flight. But before that, I was in Los Angeles about five weeks ago, and three weeks ago I was in Europe, and both had to do with religious globalization. In Los Angeles, the Templeton Foundation ran a very successful conference on global pentecostalism, which was fascinating, and it was to commemorate the th anniversary of the Azusa Street Mission, which was the origin of modern pentecostalism.
There were very good papers, and we saw a little movie about the Azusa Street Mission, which was a pathetic little affair where this charismatic black preacher came out of Texas and started preaching.
Estimates of the number of followers vary, I guess Pew has the latest. But in terms of worldwide pentecostalism, the estimates range within million and million adherents, which must be the fastest growth of any religious movement in history.
My first stop in Europe was Amsterdam. A friend of mine — a Dutch sociologist — is chairman of the advisory committee to the new Islamic University in Rotterdam, which is a very interesting institution.
Just a little factoid: I think there is no major world religion that is not globalizing in an impressive way. The Roman Catholic Church actually could be called the oldest global institution, and certainly is continuing this today, although it is very much changing its character.
The geographical and demographic center of Christianity is moving from north to south, and within a very few years European and North American Catholics, and Christians of any sort, will be in the minority in the world.
So for example, the Mormons, who most people would not consider exactly Protestant, still are very similar to this broad family of religious groups in terms of social characteristics. Mormonism today is probably the fastest growing denomination worldwide — pentecostalism is not just one denomination.
Buddhism is spreading in the oddest places; the estimate now is that aboutAmericans are converts to Buddhism from other religions. Hinduism is spreading through a number of organizations like the Hare Krishna movement, the Sai Baba movement in a very interesting way.
I suppose that of the major world religions, the only one that does not globalize is Shinto: Even Confucianism, if you want to call it a religion, is globalizing and for a short and rather inglorious period, it became the state ideology of Singapore.
Let me present my major thesis this morning, which is what I want to talk about. My thesis is that what is happening with the globalization of religion is a globalization of pluralism.
Pluralism, which was a much more geographically, much more limited phenomenon or years ago, has become a global phenomenon, and that has enormous implications, and I want to just draw out these implications this morning.
The term, as far as I know, was coined by Horace Kallen, an American philosopher of the s, whom I think has justly been forgotten. I once tried to read Kallen and I found him unreadable, but he used the term pluralism in a very normative sense, in a way to celebrate the peaceful coexistence of different ethnic, racial and religious groups in the United States.
Pluralism in the meantime is used in a less value-laden sense to mean simply the fact. Well, you can use it without the good thing addition, simply as a value-free description of a situation.
That, I think, is very important. I recently was on a panel with a very good Turkish sociologist and I talked about pluralism — modern pluralism. She said, well, pluralism existed in the Ottoman Empire, the millet system where you had Christians and Jews and various groups being sort of self-contained and given certain rights; that was pluralism.is and in to a was not you i of it the be he his but for are this that by on at they with which she or from had we will have an what been one if would who has her.
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Founded in , University of California Press, Journals and Digital Publishing Division, disseminates scholarship of enduring value. One of the largest, most distinguished, and innovative of the university presses today, its collection of print and online journals spans topics in the humanities and social sciences, with concentrations in sociology, musicology, history, religion, cultural and.
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