Official vs. Nonofficial Religious Differences

This week’s class was an interesting look at the differences between official and nonofficial religion. Before this class I had no idea that the differences were so diverse; I basically saw it as “things that aren’t cults” vs. “cults.” The distinction, of course, is much more complex than that, and learning more about this distinction made for a very interesting class experience. As I discussed last week it was fascinating to see how beliefs in magic and the occult fit into the spectrum, as well as the history of sexism in organized religion. I had no idea that that aspect ran so very deep in the history of organized religion, and it was interesting to see how that informed some of the differences between official and nonofficial religion.

Going forward I hope to see more of this diversity between religion and how it affects peoples’ lives. Chapter Five of McGuire was great in this aspect because it demonstrated the differences between church stances, as well as individual religious orientations, (sectarian, cultic, denominational, churchly) and seeing these differences brought to light and explained so thoroughly like this was one of the main reasons I took this class. This is the kind of thing that I can’t wait to learn more about as we go on to discuss this chapter in more depth in class next week.