After reading chapter 1, I was under the impression that it was trying to define what a religion was, and from there, understand situations where religion plays a big role. In this case, it talked about San Antonio and how religion played a role in the lives of people living there. After reading it, I still didn’t quite understand what it is about religion that makes an impact, just that it does.
Reading through Chapter 2, it became more clear just how religion plays a role. As stated by Geertz (1966:40), religion serves as a template to serve meaning. It not only interprets meaning, but it also shapes it. It’s meant to make experiences fit with it, and it’s done to make sense out of them, shaping the meaning and experiences of the individual based on what framework fits and makes sense to them. (pg. 27). That would explain why there are so many religions in the first place: it’s subjective based on the experiences of the individual, and it also explains why people can shift their religious affiliations as they get older and reflect on their own experiences. This can be applied to social settings; particularly if people within a single group share similar experiences and use the same framework to make sense out of them.
Chapter 3 expands from it. It focused more on the individual, and what I got out of it is that a lot of the shaping of one’s religion falls within their self-identity, “each person’s biographical arrangement of meanings and interpretations that form a somewhat coherent sense of ‘who am I?’.” (pg. 52) I found that interesting because I initially put self-identity first, then religion. After reading, I started thinking about religion first, then self-identity.