Having grown up with religion as a major part of my early life, I never looked at it from a sociological standpoint until now. Because I had grown distant from religion I wondered what made people so devoted to it.
In McGuire’s Ch. 1 text, she opens with a discussion of San Antonio’s religious landscape. She brings up the question in this chapter about if we are living in an age where religion and organization are become separate. This was interesting to me because religion has a lot to do with the organizational aspect about it – the followers with certain beliefs who perform rituals or prayers to emphasize those beliefs. However, we are coming into an era where more people are striving away from those traditional beliefs and the “organization of religion” and rather becoming more of an individual with a spiritual life. That’s what I felt had happened to me.
Ch. 2 was very fascinating in that it explained “meaning systems” within religion and why religion brings meaning into people’s lives. Meaning refers to the interpretation of situations and events in terms of some broader frame or reference. Most historical religions are comprehensive meaning systems that explains a social group’s worldview. It’s important to keep in mind as well that meaning systems are not simply abstract, but are created and help by people. By understanding how meaning-giving processes work, it makes it easier to understand some of the ways religion links the individual with the larger social group. After reading these chapters, I can understand why religion actually helps keep social order and gives meaning and explanation for many people’s lives.