Changing Religious Individualization

Individual religion has been a recurring theme over the course of the semester. How religion is interpreted subjectively from an individual perspective brings forward many different themes from McGuire, including the distinctions between official and nonofficial religions. The idea of religions having to prove themselves to be “official” or religious individuals having to justify their means of belief based on characteristics of their own religion, seems an odd way to put someone’s belief in a box and labeling it how they see fit. In chapter 8, McGuire and Spickard touch on religious individualization and how it correlates to religion in the modern world. The idea of a shift in the characteristics of religion in a modern society from practices of the past present what may be interpreted as a cycle. They state, “There is not, in this view, a general shift from religious authority to religious individualism; there is, instead, a historically specific growth of religious authoritarianism and institutional control that has been reversed in recent decades.” (McGuire, Spickard, pg. 294). It seems that many devoted religious individuals today speak to a decline of religion within the United States, but it appears that many people have chosen to devote their time to religion in different ways than are typically expected, or even in ways which are not acknowledged as “official” in the eyes of some traditional religious practitioners. If, according to McGuire, a religion should be understood as according to its experiences, rituals, beliefs, and communities, then typically “unconventional” religions or belief systems should be interpreted with the same aspects in mind, especially given the shift in religious norms and the so called blurring of lines between religiosity and spirituality.