The meaning behind religious practices

As we talked about in class last week, there are many different religions and different rituals that each religion decides to take part in. The sociological perspective helps people who don’t practice the same religion as someone view that religion in a more open-minded way with emphasis of understanding the religion and exploring other religions. Patterns begin to show that people are aware and unaware of. The 2nd chapter of Religion titled, The Provision of Meaning and Belonging, says, “A community of believers maintain a meaning system and mediates it to the individual” (page 25). This reminded me of the first chapter that talked about how religion is individual and social at the same time. Being influenced by the social aspect of people who have the same beliefs as you plays a role in one’s individual decision in what to believe in.

Something interesting to me was the relationship between religious meaning and worldviews. Meaning is, “The interpretation of situations and events in terms of some broader frame of reference” (page 26). With everyone having the same worldview, having religious worldview is more complicated then that. “In modern society, religious meaning systems compete with many other worldviews. Individuals are less likely to use any single comprehensive meaning system but may apply religious meanings to segments of their lives.” (page 27) Meanings are chosen for certain things and have different meanings but all in all have the same norms. With social and individual religious decisions made every day for different people, overall, all meaning systems are based on an intersection of self and social group. (page 31) Meaning systems are everything in religion because whatever that ritual means is the way people will view you or the god that you worship views you. In essence, the emphasis of meaning is everything in religion and you have the be aware of everything you are doing and know the meaning of everything you are doing in religious practices.

One thought on “The meaning behind religious practices

  1. 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.

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