Goodbye Father: The Celibate Male Priesthood and the Future of the Catholic Church

By Richard A. Schoenherr; David Yamane | Go to book overview

4
THE TRANSPERSONAL PARADIGM

In the previous chapter I discussed the Catholic Church as if it were like any other modern organization. But institutionalized religion is different from all other types of organization in important ways. My aim now is to examine how we can take account of this difference. This chapter begins by observing that most organization theories focus exclusively on mundane rational behavior. Given their philosophical and epistemological assumptions, such theories are inadequate for explaining social change in religious organizations. The second half of the chapter examines the place of religion in social life and describes a newly emerging theoretical paradigm that incorporates the spiritual domain in a model of social change. This new paradigm allows us to examine the stages of social development and the unique character of religious organizations.


Organizational Models of Social Change

My analysis of causes and consequences of the priest shortage in the Catholic Church rests on the premise that ours is an organizational society. The basic functions and institutional forms of modern society, whether economic, political, integrative, or cultural, are all embodied in formally structured organizations. 1 Modern social change at the societal level, therefore, is inextricably linked to social change within organizations and among networks of organizations. Hence the four-level model proposed in figure 1 and formalized in chapter 3 focuses on transformation processes at the organizational level. Because religious organizations are different from any other type, an explanation of social change that involves organized religion must be different from theories that limit their analysis to other types of organizations. Though not often recognized, the main difference between theoretical approaches to the analysis of formal organizations stems from their underlying philosophical assumptions. Thus, I place organization theories in three philosophical categories. The first approach assumes that human behavior is basically prerational, the second that it is predominantly rational, and the third that it is ultimately transrational.

Max Weber's analysis of types of legitimate authority and their organizational forms provides a foundation for distinguishing between prerational, rational, and transrational models of organizations. Different types of beliefs legitimate the authority used in different kinds of organizations. Basically, therefore, organiza-

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