by David Stark
Lights dimmed, spotlights, stroboscopic effects, and loud rock music. The camera on a large boom arm swings toward the audience who can now see themselves, clapping and cheering, displayed on one of the enormous screens above the stage. The warmup act is over and the headline performer bounds onto the set amidst frenzied applause. We are at VictoryChurch.tv, one of several megachurches that I have been studying in Oklahoma City.
In 1904, German sociologist Max Weber traveled to Oklahoma where he conducted field research, leading to an article, “Church and Sect in North America,” and his most influential book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. A century later, the megachurches of Oklahoma City seemed an appropriate setting to witness recent developments in the relationship between religious experience and contemporary capitalism.
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