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Saint Anselm of Canterbury and Charismatic Authority
Religions 2014, 5(2), 435-443; doi:10.3390/rel5020435

Charisma, Diversity, and Religion in the American City— A Reflection

Department of Theology, Loyola University Maryland, 4501 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21210, USA
Received: 21 March 2014 / Revised: 11 April 2014 / Accepted: 14 April 2014 / Published: 21 April 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Charisma, Medieval and Modern)
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The faith leaders of North American cities actively engage in the civic affairs of their urban communities. Religious leadership, charismatic preaching, and, possibly, reputation of prophetic powers, continue to play important roles especially in the African American civic leaders’ rise to public authority. The article reflects on the twenty-first-century significance of Max Weber’s concept of “charisma” in interpreting the civic involvement of urban religious leaders in one city in particular, Baltimore. The article suggests that within the context of Baltimore’s dramatic challenges associated with urban poverty, violence, and racial and socio-economic health disparities, charismatic religious leadership continues as a recognized form of communal authority especially among the city’s African Americans. The article suggests that the gender dynamics of contemporary charismatic leadership appears strikingly similar to another time period and place, also analyzed by Weber—namely, medieval Europe. Just as an intense personal faith granted some medieval religious women authority and position they would not have had in the institutions reserved for men, so too the religious leadership and personal experiences of faith support the urban advocacy of African American women leaders.
Keywords: urban religions; African American preaching; Baltimore; women’s charismatic leadership urban religions; African American preaching; Baltimore; women’s charismatic leadership
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Lehmijoki-Gardner, M. Charisma, Diversity, and Religion in the American City— A Reflection. Religions 2014, 5, 435-443.

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