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Special Issue "Charisma, Medieval and Modern"

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A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2012)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Gary Dickson

School of History, Classics, and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh, William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AG, Scotland, UK
E-Mail
Phone: 0131-669-5176
Interests: medieval revivalism; medieval crowd psychology; cult of saints
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Peter Iver Kaufman

Jepson School, University of Richmond, Room 133, Jepson Hall, 28 Westhampton Way, Richmond, VA 23173, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 804-289-8003
Fax: +1 804 2876062
Interests: christian traditions: late antique, medieval and early modern European spirituality, politics and drama

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Gary Dickson has composed the lead essay for this special topics issue of Religions. Dr. Dickson is the author of an acclaimed Children’s Crusade (2008), which sifts contemporary evidence for that controversial and compelling phenomenon and studies it alongside other religious revivals to enrich our understanding of religious enthusiasm and the writing of “mythistory.” With his wide-ranging study of “charisma” in this journal, Dickson asks if (how and why) the term “charisma,” which Weber “half-secularized” and “granted right of entry into the academic world,” can still serve scholars studying religious leadership, cultic practice, contemporary demagogues, and devotees. Religions welcomes brief comments/responses to Dickson’s essay, “Charisma, Medieval and Modern” (ca. 1,500 to 3,000) words and longer contributions on leadership, charisma, and hagiography.

Dr. Gary Dickson
Prof. Dr. Peter Iver Kaufman
Guest Editors

Print Edition available!
A Print Edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Hardcover: 36.50 CHF*
Pages: 10, 152
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Keywords

  • celebrity
  • charisma
  • cult
  • heroism
  • social memory
  • Weber

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Charisma, Diversity, and Religion in the American City— A Reflection
Religions 2014, 5(2), 435-443; doi:10.3390/rel5020435
Received: 21 March 2014 / Revised: 11 April 2014 / Accepted: 14 April 2014 / Published: 21 April 2014
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Abstract
The faith leaders of North American cities actively engage in the civic affairs of their urban communities. Religious leadership, charismatic preaching, and, possibly, reputation of prophetic powers, continue to play important roles especially in the African American civic leaders’ rise to public authority.
[...] Read more.
The faith leaders of North American cities actively engage in the civic affairs of their urban communities. Religious leadership, charismatic preaching, and, possibly, reputation of prophetic powers, continue to play important roles especially in the African American civic leaders’ rise to public authority. The article reflects on the twenty-first-century significance of Max Weber’s concept of “charisma” in interpreting the civic involvement of urban religious leaders in one city in particular, Baltimore. The article suggests that within the context of Baltimore’s dramatic challenges associated with urban poverty, violence, and racial and socio-economic health disparities, charismatic religious leadership continues as a recognized form of communal authority especially among the city’s African Americans. The article suggests that the gender dynamics of contemporary charismatic leadership appears strikingly similar to another time period and place, also analyzed by Weber—namely, medieval Europe. Just as an intense personal faith granted some medieval religious women authority and position they would not have had in the institutions reserved for men, so too the religious leadership and personal experiences of faith support the urban advocacy of African American women leaders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Charisma, Medieval and Modern) Print Edition available
Open AccessArticle Saint Anselm of Canterbury and Charismatic Authority
Religions 2014, 5(1), 90-108; doi:10.3390/rel5010090
Received: 29 August 2013 / Revised: 17 December 2013 / Accepted: 20 December 2013 / Published: 10 February 2014
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Abstract
The early career of Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033–1109) provides an opportunity to explore the operation of charismatic authority in a monastic setting. It is argued that the choice of Anselm for the archiepiscopal see of Canterbury in 1093 was
[...] Read more.
The early career of Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033–1109) provides an opportunity to explore the operation of charismatic authority in a monastic setting. It is argued that the choice of Anselm for the archiepiscopal see of Canterbury in 1093 was the result of his growing reputation cultivated during his years as prior and abbot of the influential Norman monastery of Bec. The article explores various aspects of Anselm’s charismatic authority including his performance of charisma, the charisma derived from his fame as a scholar, and his reputation as a miracle-working holy man. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Charisma, Medieval and Modern) Print Edition available
Open AccessArticle Charismatic Reactions to Individuals and Ideas: Looks, Language and Lincoln
Religions 2013, 4(2), 209-215; doi:10.3390/rel4020209
Received: 8 February 2013 / Revised: 5 April 2013 / Accepted: 10 April 2013 / Published: 15 April 2013
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Abstract
This paper explores the application of Freud’s theories of leadership and group psychology to the case of Abraham Lincoln. It argues that followers’ needs for charismatic leaders propel them to construct heroic and charismatic cognitive representations of leaders who give the impression of
[...] Read more.
This paper explores the application of Freud’s theories of leadership and group psychology to the case of Abraham Lincoln. It argues that followers’ needs for charismatic leaders propel them to construct heroic and charismatic cognitive representations of leaders who give the impression of power and who represent the ideal qualities of the group. Both leaders and their ideas can create an emotional connection with followers. During his lifetime, Americans developed charismatic and heroic interpretations of Abraham Lincoln’s appearance. They also responded positively to Lincoln’s use of biblical rhythms and phrases in his speeches and writings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Charisma, Medieval and Modern) Print Edition available
Open AccessArticle Antichrist as (Anti)Charisma: Reflections on Weber and the ‘Son of Perdition’
Religions 2013, 4(1), 77-95; doi:10.3390/rel4010077
Received: 20 December 2012 / Revised: 25 January 2013 / Accepted: 29 January 2013 / Published: 4 February 2013
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Abstract
The figure of Antichrist, linked in recent US apocalyptic thought to President Barack Obama, forms a central component of Christian end-times scenarios, both medieval and modern. Envisioned as a false-messiah, deceptive miracle-worker, and prophet of evil, Antichrist inversely embodies many of the qualities
[...] Read more.
The figure of Antichrist, linked in recent US apocalyptic thought to President Barack Obama, forms a central component of Christian end-times scenarios, both medieval and modern. Envisioned as a false-messiah, deceptive miracle-worker, and prophet of evil, Antichrist inversely embodies many of the qualities and characteristics associated with Max Weber’s concept of charisma. This essay explores early Christian, medieval, and contemporary depictions of Antichrist and the imagined political circumstances of his reign as manifesting the notion of (anti)charisma, compelling but misleading charismatic political and religious leadership oriented toward damnation rather than redemption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Charisma, Medieval and Modern) Print Edition available
Open AccessArticle Charisma and Counterculture: Allen Ginsberg as a Prophet for a New Generation
Religions 2013, 4(1), 51-66; doi:10.3390/rel4010051
Received: 14 December 2012 / Revised: 7 January 2013 / Accepted: 16 January 2013 / Published: 25 January 2013
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Abstract
The cultural role of Allen Ginsberg does not fit a typical Weberian model of charisma. The avant-garde poet was an outstanding personality and possessed an unusual ability to affect people. He played a vital role in expanding the boundaries of personal freedom in
[...] Read more.
The cultural role of Allen Ginsberg does not fit a typical Weberian model of charisma. The avant-garde poet was an outstanding personality and possessed an unusual ability to affect people. He played a vital role in expanding the boundaries of personal freedom in America of the 1950s–1990s, blazing new paths for spiritual, communal and artistic expression. Serving as a father figure for the counterculture—a symbol of an alternative set of cultural norms, lifestyles and literary forms—Ginsberg was a charismatic counter-leader, with no clearly defined followers or movement. As a leader in a more liberated era, he offered energy, ideas, inspiration, and color, but no structure or authority. Instead he was a prophet of freedom, calling on people to express themselves openly, to expand and experiment. This role demanded charisma but of a different kind—one that was more spiritual and less organizational or hierarchical. This article follows Gary Dickson’s essay “Charisma, Medieval and Modern,” in offering a suggestive analysis of and supplement to Weber’s understanding of charisma. The article grapples with the concept of charisma in relation to a generation that resented rigid structures and authorities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Charisma, Medieval and Modern) Print Edition available
Open AccessArticle Drama & Demigods: Kingship and Charisma in Shakespeare’s England
Religions 2013, 4(1), 30-50; doi:10.3390/rel4010030
Received: 3 December 2012 / Revised: 17 January 2013 / Accepted: 18 January 2013 / Published: 22 January 2013
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Abstract
Shakespearean charisma, with its medieval roots in both religion and politics, served as a precursor to Max Weber’s later understanding of the term. The on-stage portrayal of charismatic kingship in the twilight of the Tudor dynasty was not coincidental; facing the imminent death
[...] Read more.
Shakespearean charisma, with its medieval roots in both religion and politics, served as a precursor to Max Weber’s later understanding of the term. The on-stage portrayal of charismatic kingship in the twilight of the Tudor dynasty was not coincidental; facing the imminent death of a queen, the English nation was concerned about the future of the monarchy. Through the depiction of the production and deterioration of royal charisma, Shakespeare presents the anxiety of a population aware of the latent dangers of charismatic authority; while Elizabeth managed to perpetuate an unprecedented degree of long-term charismatic rule, there could be no certainty that her successor would be similarly capable. Shakespeare’s second tetralogy — known as the Henriad — examines this royal charisma as it appears both under crisis and in the process of what Weber would later characterize as routinization. While Henry IV (Bolingbroke) originally makes use of charisma to ensure his succession to Richard II’s throne, he loses his charismatic authority in the process. Henry V, by contrast, makes use of deliberate crisis — his claim to the French crown — in order to restore royal charisma. Henry V’s success, however, cannot last, and his son’s reign is a disastrous reminder that charisma is, as Weber will later argue, inherently unstable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Charisma, Medieval and Modern) Print Edition available
Open AccessArticle Charisma and Routine: Shaping the Memory of Brother Richard and Joan of Arc
Religions 2012, 3(4), 1162-1179; doi:10.3390/rel3041162
Received: 12 November 2012 / Revised: 12 December 2012 / Accepted: 12 December 2012 / Published: 13 December 2012
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Abstract
The extraordinary life and fate of Joan of Arc are well known; so is her association with the prophetic preacher, Brother Richard, who predicted the Apocalypse. Less well explained is why contemporaries initially took such an interest in this association, and how and
[...] Read more.
The extraordinary life and fate of Joan of Arc are well known; so is her association with the prophetic preacher, Brother Richard, who predicted the Apocalypse. Less well explained is why contemporaries initially took such an interest in this association, and how and why it began to fade from official memory after Joan’s death. Max Weber’s concepts of “charisma” and “routinization” offer valuable tools to deal with these questions. Both Joan and Richard have earned the title “charismatic” but interest in the preacher has generally been secondary to interest in the Maid. A more rigorous adoption of Weber’s meaning of charisma, however, helps to clarify what the relative importance of these figures was in the eyes of contemporaries. It also shifts attention to the significance of messianic prophecy in the years surrounding Joan’s life, the anxieties it generated and the way it was dealt with. In this context, the processions and commemorative ceremonies organized by townspeople, churchmen and royalty during this period deserve further analysis. Seen as forces of “routine”, these ceremonies assume a greater significance than they have usually been granted, as processes that managed the memory of charismatic phenomena. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Charisma, Medieval and Modern) Print Edition available
Open AccessCommunication Abelard: Celebrity and Charisma—A Response to Dickson
Religions 2012, 3(4), 1140-1143; doi:10.3390/rel3041140
Received: 26 October 2012 / Revised: 4 November 2012 / Accepted: 7 November 2012 / Published: 10 December 2012
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Abstract
One might think that Peter Abelard (1079?–1144?) would be the best example of a medieval charismatic teacher. But his rival and prosecutor St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090?–1153) fits the criteria rather better. Unlike Bernard, Abelard denied that he had sought out disciples. Nevertheless,
[...] Read more.
One might think that Peter Abelard (1079?–1144?) would be the best example of a medieval charismatic teacher. But his rival and prosecutor St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090?–1153) fits the criteria rather better. Unlike Bernard, Abelard denied that he had sought out disciples. Nevertheless, he can be shown to have had student followers, even though some of them repudiated him. Abelard is most important as a public intellectual who depended on public institutions (the incipient university of Paris) rather than on private or monastic patronage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Charisma, Medieval and Modern) Print Edition available
Open AccessArticle Augustine on Manichaeism and Charisma
Religions 2012, 3(3), 808-816; doi:10.3390/rel3030808
Received: 5 June 2012 / Revised: 28 July 2012 / Accepted: 1 August 2012 / Published: 3 September 2012
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Abstract
Augustine was suspicious of charismatics’ claims to superior righteousness, which supposedly authorized them to relay truths about creation and redemption. What follows finds the origins of that suspicion in his disenchantment with celebrities on whom Manichees relied, specialists whose impeccable behavior and intellectual
[...] Read more.
Augustine was suspicious of charismatics’ claims to superior righteousness, which supposedly authorized them to relay truths about creation and redemption. What follows finds the origins of that suspicion in his disenchantment with celebrities on whom Manichees relied, specialists whose impeccable behavior and intellectual virtuosity were taken as signs that they possessed insight into the meaning of Christianity’s sacred texts. Augustine’s struggles for self-identity and with his faith’s intelligibility during the late 370s, 380s, and early 390s led him to prefer that his intermediaries between God and humanity be dead (martyred), rather than alive and charismatic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Charisma, Medieval and Modern) Print Edition available
Open AccessArticle Charisma, Medieval and Modern
Religions 2012, 3(3), 763-789; doi:10.3390/rel3030763
Received: 26 July 2012 / Revised: 8 August 2012 / Accepted: 10 August 2012 / Published: 23 August 2012
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (354 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Popularized by the mass media, Max Weber’s sociological concept of charisma now has a demotic meaning far from what Weber had in mind. Weberian charismatic leaders have followers, not fans, although, exceptionally, fans mutate into followers. This essay aims to trace some of
[...] Read more.
Popularized by the mass media, Max Weber’s sociological concept of charisma now has a demotic meaning far from what Weber had in mind. Weberian charismatic leaders have followers, not fans, although, exceptionally, fans mutate into followers. This essay aims to trace some of the dimensions of Weberian charismatic religious leadership in comparative perspective, medieval and modern. Examples include: preachers, “double charisma,” professors, “collective charisma,” religious radicals, the economy of charisma, transgressive sexuality, demagogues, living saints.1 Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Charisma, Medieval and Modern) Print Edition available

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