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(review of de obest 344ndiga religionerna)

3 pages
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Ajouté le : 21 juillet 2011
Lecture(s) : 214
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Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review Volume IIssue 12009 ________________________________________________________________
De obeständiga religionerna. Om kollektiva självmord och frälsning i Peoples Temple, Ordre du temple Solaire och Heaven’s Gate(The Impermanent Religions. On Collective Suicide and Salvation in Peoples Temple, Ordre du Temple Solaire and Heaven’s Gate).Peter Åkerbäck. Stockholm: Institutionen för etnologi, religionshistoria och genus studier, Stockholms universitet, 2008. 288 pages. ISBN 9789171553
The collective suicides of the Peoples Temple, Ordre du Temple Solaire (Order of the Solar Temple) and Heaven’s Gate stand out as three of the most shocking events associated with new religious movements – events which have received detailed academic attention. Scholars specialising in these movements have tended to explain these events from a sociological perspective, focusing on conflict, charismatic leadership, isolation, and apocalyptic worldviews. However, in this doctoral degree dissertation (defended at the University of Stockholm, Sweden) Peter Åkerbäck argues that previous studies on these particular movements as a rule neglect the importance of the groups’ own worldview and soteriology which, he argues, are vital for an understanding of the mechanisms that led to the tragic events. The first part of the book sets the stage by introducing the three groups and briefly discussing some misconceptions about new religious movements in general, and the groups in question in particular. Åkerbäck then introduces his own approach to understanding these groups, and argues that their soteriology is an essential key for this purpose. According to Åkerbäck, salvation can be interpreted as having three aspects, which he presents in the forms of questions: 1) salvationfromwhat, how did each group view evil?; 2) Salvationtowhat, what did they view as the good aspect of existence?; 3) How will salvation be accomplished? In addition to this, Åkerbäck presents his categorisation of the members based on their access to information and degree of conviction: 1) the uninformed, 2) the believers, and 3) the wellinformed. The second part, which consists of three chapters, deals with Peoples Temple, Ordre du Temple Solaire and Heaven’s Gate, by first providing an overview of each group’s history, and then by reconstructing their ideology. This part shows that Åkerbäck is wellversed in specialised scholarship on these groups, but he also makes use of some unusual sources, in particular he quotes from his correspondence with Rkkody (Chuck Humphrey), a member of Heaven’s Gate who later decided to commit suicide and join his friends at TELAH, and, in the case of Ordre du Temple