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Charismatic Entrepreneurship And Conversion: Oomoto Proselytization, 1916–1935

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Chapter Summary

Early twentieth century scholars of religion, like Arthur D. Nock and William James believed that conversion was possible only within &t;prophetic&t; religions, such as Christianity and Judaism. This chapter provides an overview of the proselytization practices of Oomoto, a Shintoist &t;new religion&t; that became the most rapidly growing religious organization in Japan. Oomoto entrepreneurially seized the opportunity to meet an unfulfilled spiritual need by rectifying the status of an officially denigrated deity. The chapter describes the willingness to employ the technologies of modernity, notably mass media, to circulate and reproduce ideas that countered the state view of religion, as charismatic entrepreneurship. Under Deguchi Onisaburō's charismatic entrepreneurship, Oomoto constantly created new vehicles for attracting support that were meaningful to mass audiences. The chapter highlights the ability of groups and individuals to imagine their own identities, affirm or invent their own traditions and construct their own visions of Japanese modernity.

Keywords: Arthur D. Nock; charismatic entrepreneurship; Deguchi Onisaburō; Japanese modernity; Oomoto proselytization; prophetic religion; William James



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