Charisma and Myth

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Charisma and Myth combines an interdisciplinary examination of myth with the newest developments in the application of charisma theory to history and social life. Through scores of examples ranging from Inuit myth to Christian theology, from Malinowski to martyrology, Charisma and Myth argues definitively that the survival of myth systems mirrors the survival of such charismatic groups as modern street gangs, the Anglo-Saxon comitatus, or Satan's fallen angels in Paradise Lost. Even the smallest charismatic group generates its own set of myths, and, like larger myth systems, depends on continual revolutionary change - not, as might be expected, on the stability of its myths - to survive and to achieve longevity. As this innovative study shows, group leaders must learn first to foster and then to manage the mild chaos and changing symbols of their myths. Charisma and Myth challenges myth theorists from the nineteenth through to the twenty-first century and adds a missing component to our understanding of how and why myths continue to grip our imaginations.