The present analysis is an argument in behalf of imagination. When two Catholic Pentecostals simultaneously "receive" the same prophetic inspiration, their conclusion that the message must have come from a divine source outside both of them is not a misapprehension of the poverty of their own language. Instead, as Pierre Bourdieu states in his study of the Kabyle, "The illusion of mutual election or predestination arises from ignorance of the social conditions for the harmony of aesthetic tastes or ethical leanings, which is thereby perceived as evidence for the ineffable affinities which spring from it" (1977:82). In their ignorance of social conditions for creativity, what participants necessarily misapprehend is that, through ritual language in performance, they have created a new reality. (Csordas, 464)
About the Author
Dr. Thomas Csordas is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Southern California. His principal interests are in medical and psychological anthropology, comparative religion, anthropological theory, cultural phenomenology and embodiment, globalization and social change, language and culture. He has conducted ethnographic research with Charismatic Catholics, Navajo Indians, and adolescents in the American Southwest on topics including therapeutic process in religious healing, ritual language and creativity, sensory imagery, self transformation, techniques of the body, causal reasoning about illness, and the experience of psychiatric inpatients.