Reflection on Reading 1/21

This weeks reading discussed how social groups used religion to ascribe meaning to daily life events and how individual religion is shaped. The first chapter, “The Provision of Meaning and Belonging”, covered the connection between belonging and the ascription of meaning to life that are aspects of religion. I was mostly interested in the discussion of how these two aspects provide order in the individuals life. Religion acts as a system that ascribes meaning to all the events a person may experience in their normal life, and acts as a form of social hierarchy. Religious meaning systems define social order and identify where an individual lies in the greater hierarchy. The discussion of this concept in the reading also described how legitimation is used to justify various forms of social order, such as monarchies, which makes social order seem as “greater” than just human convention. I found this concept fascinating because legitimation provides a precedent for what is considered normal behaviour and action within a group, so legitimation essentially shapes the course of future behaviour for individuals in a religious group.
The second chapter in this week’s reading, “The Individual’s Religion” discussed the more individual process of how multiple factors influence the individuals religious meaning system. Each individuals religious meaning system is slightly different because it is influenced by socialization and life experiences that are unique to the individual, meaning religious meaning systems can vary among practitioners of the same religion. The idea that social experiences define how the individual considers the world and daily experiences was interesting to me, because I had not considered this concept in the context of creating religion. As a whole the reading was thought provoking in the discussion of how religion works to define social order, and the influence of religious socialization on individual religious meaning systems. Furthermore, it is interesting on a larger scale to consider how just these concepts discussed provide insight into how religion has shaped so many aspects of modern society.