By Rodney Stark
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Extra resources for Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion
Is nothing but the fantastic reﬂection in men’s minds of those external forces which control their daily lives,” Marx and Engels explained ( , ). ” In similar fashion, in his famous study of suicide, although the topic of religion takes up a substantial portion of the book, Emile Durkheim ( ) did not treat religion as something in itself, but only as an elaborate reﬂection of the more basic reality: degree of social integration (Stark and Bainbridge ). Seeking to explain why religious movements arise, Bryan Wilson invoked a litany of secular crises and disturbances: Change in the economic position of a particular group .
This is the motive of every act of every man, including those who go and hang themselves” (Pensée no. ;  , ). Most of the world’s religious scriptures abound in the language of exchange: O Indra . . may plentiful libations of the people, and singing sages’ holy prayers rejoice thee . . ) Make for Me an altar of earth and sacriﬁce on it your burnt oﬀerings and your sacriﬁces of well-being, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be mentioned I will come to you and bless you.
Maybe all of this is for nothing. But then I say to myself, if it’s true then I’m in on the ground ﬂoor of the greatest event in history. And if it isn’t, so what? I was probably going to spend the rest of my life working in that plywood plant anyway. What “all of this” that might be for nothing consisted of was the total dedication of his life and property to missionary activity. In those days, there was no room in the Uniﬁcation Church for part-time lay members. It was all or nothing. All of the Uniﬁcationists observed by Stark were fully aware that membership was very costly, and, like the young man quoted above, they openly discussed this and frequently balanced the costs and beneﬁts of belonging.