Reflection-Feb 5th

This weeks readings and class discussions really focused on the typology of religious organizations. We were able to unfold many attributes related to certain religions and compare them to others. We also studied the trends and changes Chaves reported on, for example, the increase in 18-39 year olds who are spiritual but not religious. It was interesting to see how religion as a whole has changed over time. I thought McGuire’s typology table of the thirteen religions was very useful. The table was able to pin-point  where each religion generally stood in terms of each religion’s churchly, sectarian, denominational, or cultic orientation by their “Tension with society”,”Responsibility for society”,”one way”, and “many ways”. McGuire also explained how religion can be responsible for social cohesion as well as conflict. It was interesting to think of Durkeim’s concept that “wherever there is social cohesion, it is expressed religiously”. Meaning that “religion is the very essence of social”. Before reading this I never thought of this perspective and I wonder if it’d be true for the average American today. I thought about the social encounters I face daily and tried counting how many of them are religious–not very many. McGuire makes it clear that in the past immigrants looked to religion because it gave them a mutual aid, friendships, or a sense of belonging; yet in the U.S. it helps people differentiate themselves and locate themselves in a larger society.  Then the next area of topic explains the conflicts and social cleavages of religion. There are many areas that religion may overlap that could create conflict; like social class, race or ethnicity, and political or national allegiance. Understanding this area gets tricky for me and raises many questions and uncertainties.