The Quest for Meaning: Blog Response #1 (Chapters 1-3)

Chapter two of McGuire’s text has made me curious as to how much individuals actually internalize the meaning system of the religion they belong to, and with how much conviction they believe in the meanings provided for them. I draw back to our second class session in which I learned that almost a majority of the students have strayed away from the religion they grew up believing, and wonder “how would this shift in religious beliefs result in a panic or crisis of meaning?” The person who is struggling with what religion they identify with (and to what extent) would likely experience anomie— a term defined as “a crisis of moral order” (McGuire 35). Although not explicitly said, the text suggests that practically all aspects of a religious person’s life are given meaning through their religion. I then wonder if young people who experience a shift in religious beliefs are then more prone to having some sort of existential crisis in which the meaning of their life is being severely tested. There are far more suicides among young people than there are of people in mid to late life— could religious inner turmoil be a factor in this? Are systems of meaning implemented in society to sustain people’s wellbeing so that they don’t break down from the lack of meaning? I wonder, what becomes of people who do not adopt meaning from a religious system? Do these people suffer from this or have stronger sense of value if they single handedly choose their meaning system rather than adopting it from a religious institution?