Page 11, 22nd September 2006

22nd September 2006
Page 11
Page 11, 22nd September 2006 — Charismatic. It was Max Weber, the father of modern social

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Charismatic. It was Max Weber, the father of modern social

science, who turned an important Christian concept into a synonym for dynamic personal leadership. Charisma, which in Greek means "gift" or "grace", was used by St Paul to designate such divinely endowed qualities as faith, healing, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Needless to say, as a gift that can only come from God, this was not something to be taken lightly. In Weber's parlance, however, charisma is one of three justifications for the legitimate exercise of power and violence, tradition and "rationality" being the other two. Men and women, Weber held, submitted to authority either because this was the way it had always been (traditional) or because the established rules seem reasonably ordained (rational) or because of the personal charm and draw of an individual leader (charismatic). By labelling this third kind of justification the way he did, Weber took the idea of God-given grace and turned it into a mesmerising cult of personality. This not only enabled the likes of Adolf Hitler, John F Kennedy, and Pope John Paul II to be lumped into the same category, it

created one of the most tiresome buzzwords in America.

Iconoclast. From a vile and violent heretic to a celebrated rejector of the "Establishment", the iconoclast has made quite a journey. Iconoclasm was a fanatical heresy that led to the vandalism of churches, the destruction of priceless art, the suppression of monasteries, and the torture and death of priests, bishops, and lay folk.

Now, however, thanks to the modern dichotomy between culture and counter-culture and the association of iconoclasm with the latter, calling someone an iconoclast is generally seen as an edgy compliment.

Why do Catholics Eat Fish on Friday? by Michael P Foley is published by Palgrave Macmillan priced at £9.99. To order please visit www. palgrave .com or telephone 01256 302866.

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