The TORCH Crisis, Extremes, and Apocalypse network are hosting a talk on 'Extreme Piety and Fundamentalism' given by Nurit Stadler, Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
In this lecture I argue that piety is undergoing a process of reconstruction in the fundamentalist world today. This change is as a result of, and in response to the challenges of (post) modernity especially political transfigurations. Piety has always been at the heart of religion, performed in a variety of ways: through abstinence and mourning, with a selective self-disciplined faithfulness, via sexual renunciation or zealous attachment, all of which are ways of preparing the body to take upon itself the spirit of God (Brown 1988:68). Piety is also at the center of modern religiosity, especially as performed by a variety of current fundamentalist groups. The manifestations of the religion experience in the modern realms raises questions concerning the unique nature of piety in the context of fundamentalist experience. How piety is shaped, institutionalized, and how it is currently transformed? To understand this, I challenge current theories on fundamentalism and examine the case of the Ultraorthodox community in Israel. More specifically, I demonstrate how a new generation of Haredi-fundamentalist devotees is contesting and reinterpreting models of piety as part of their unceasing “negotiations” with their movement’s senior leadership, the modern state, and civil society. I will exemplify from the case of ZAKA, a Haredi organization that take care of people during and after a terrorist attach.