The Charismatic/Pentecostal (C/P) movement has emerged mainly due to its capacity to mobilize new believers towards strong participation in their emergent groups amidst a fragmented post-war city. In this chapter, I examine how volunteering of C/P believers is rooted in the benefits and religious culture of emergent C/P communities. After analysing the particular religious and sociopolitical culture of volunteering, I attempt to draw a conclusion as to whether C/P volunteering in Beirut contributes to social solidarity. The common sociopolitical analysis contends that religious volunteering in Lebanon is divisive. Religious volunteering is mainly carried out through religious welfare organizations (RWO). While I agree with the common overall political analysis, I also attempt to show that the effect of religious volunteering on social solidarity is not static, but hinges mainly on the religious culture within which the volunteering is embedded, the larger sociopolitical context, and the concrete setting and encounter of volunteers. By considering both the larger sociopolitical structure and the C/P culture as influencing the volunteering practices, I attempt to overcome the insider–outsider, agency–structure dichotomy, which often undergirds social analysis. The article contributes to a fuller understanding of how religiously motivated volunteering works in post-war societies with weak state institutions.
- Charismatic/Pentecostal movement
- Social capital
- Religious culture
- Sectarian welfare regime
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I have changed the names in order to protect the identity of people. Though there is a relative degree of freedom in terms of practising one’s religion, and even though a change of religion is permitted by the state, such an act could bring about severe retribution from the religious community.
Charles Malik, writing before the civil war, denounced the lack of rule of law and confirmed the popular saying: ‘nothing works in this state’ (see Malik 2004, p. 19).
As the state failed to implement a common historic account, the family and community took on the main role in the transmission of historic knowledge (Bashshur 2003, pp. 163–168).
While many talk about the war in general terms, there is reluctance, particularly on the part of those who were actively engaged in the war, to reflect upon their personal experiences and involvement (see Dyck 2010).
Wasta can be described as a sociopolitical aspect of a Patron–Client relationship.‘Patron-client ties involve the reciprocal exchange of extrinsic benefits and therefore both patron and client have a vested interest in maintaining this reciprocity’ (Khalaf 2003, p. 100).
Throughout my field research, I also met members of the Charismatic movement within the Maronite Church who were from the upper middle class but chose to join the group with lower middle class people. Deprivation theory is too limited in its explanatory scope. Robbins and Hunt give a satisfactory summary of the critiques concerning deprivation theory (see Robbins 2004, p. 124, and Hunt 2002, pp. 23–26).
On the role of the saints for anchoring the Maronite identity, see, for example Heyberger (2002).
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I would like to thank my advisor Prof. Dr. Andreas Feldtkeller at the Department for Intercultural Theology and Religious Studies, Humboldt University, Berlin, who commented on my developing ideas and stimulated further reflection. Moreover, I am thankful for the very helpful criticism of Johan von Essen, who patiently guided me through the process of writing this chapter.
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Dik, O. (2015). ‘Your Prayer Moves God’. In: Hustinx, L., von Essen, J., Haers, J., Mels, S. (eds) Religion and Volunteering. Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-04585-6_13
Publisher Name: Springer, Cham
Print ISBN: 978-3-319-04584-9
Online ISBN: 978-3-319-04585-6