Last week we only had one discussion in class because of the midterm. This discussion was based around McGuire’s Chapter 7. A main focus that McGuire talked about was the role religion plays in people’s lives. It provides a world view and shows individuals how to be human; this in itself has an effect on society. In contemporary times religion has found a decrease. Chapter 7 was a framework for the questions and ways in which sociologists are able to explain religion.
The reading for the class this week provided different explanations for the decline of religion. One main focus was individualism and secularization. There are statistics that show religious attendance is declining, therefore religion itself is declining. However, with the growth of spirituality, as previously discussed in the class, and the rise of individualistic religion, is religion itself declining? Or, is it simply, the ideas of what we believe religion to be are changing? Religion in a society has multiple roles and one of these is the importance in community. However, as America becomes less community based, the church is no longer the center of people’s lives and therefore is not the center of the society. Church is not only a place of worship, but it is a place to learn about what is going on in the lives of others, to stay connected, and to create relationships. As churches become less important and people’s lives become busier and filled with other things, religion is no longer a staple, but it is more in the way we practice religion. This brings it back to McGuire’s definition of unofficial and official religion. Maybe people are practicing in other ways, maintaining their religion in a different way.