The Trouble with charisma: religious ecstacy in Ch'ondogyo

Kirsten Bell

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1 Citation (Scopus)


All religion is founded in a sense of awe and engagement with "the beyond", yet with the formalisation of religious doctrine this direct, experiential dimension seems to invariably recede from view. Indeed, at the heart of all religions lies a core dilemma: how to reconcile the ecstatic, direct, and unmediated forms of religious experience with the necessity of establishing a stable institutional framework through which the religion can reproduce itself over time. These issues take on a particular salience in the context of new religious formations, where efforts to reconcile charisma and institutional structure are often in the process of being worked out, right before our very eyes. Through an examination of the Korean religion of Ch'ondogyo I intend to explore the tensions between charisma and institutionalisation as they manifest themselves in this particular religious context and the ways in which this movement has attempted to reconcile the gap between these two forces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-18
Number of pages16
JournalAsian Studies Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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