A Personal Anomie: Reflection for 1/21

I was fascinated by the concept of anomie in chapter 2 of McGuire’s book. “Anomie means a crisis in the moral order of a social group” (McGuire 35). This crisis can cause members of the group to feel overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness and confusion because they have lost the comfort of a stable meaning system. I was reminded of my grandmother who abandoned Catholicism after losing her baby in childbirth. Followers of the Catholic religion proclaim that babies who die are sent to Purgatory. My grandmother was absolutely heartbroken at the idea that her child would be cursed to roam Limbo for eternity. She was very active in her faith precious to the incident, however, after the tragedy she questioned her place and meaning within the Catholic faith. It is for this reason that she abandoned Catholicism in search of another religion that would not condemn her baby. She is now a Jehovah’s Witness because she could not live without the social comfort of a religion, nor could she follow a faith that so drastically threatened her sense of security. My grandmother’s story is one of many Catholic mothers and families who could not accept that deceased children would be rejected by God. This anomie is an excellent, yet tragic, example of how trauma can affect one’s religious and world perspective for the worse. This example is more extreme than most examples of anomie seen today. “Rapid social change [also] leaves people unsure about where they “stand’” (McGuire 35). In addition, commodification of culture is also a cause for people to have crises of meaning. It was apparent that all three types of anomie were prevalent in people’s religious autobiographies and were the reasons behind many abandoning their faiths.