This week in class we discussed our own religious experiences and how Meredith McGuire explains the definitions of religion and how they are viewed within the context of sociology in her book Religion, The Social Context. McGuire’s description of the importance of community resonated with me and my own experiences. McGuire says that “Religious groups… hold in common important collective memories and exist through the continuity of those memories” (p.20). Being American and living in Asia, I always felt as though I could not connect with the common religions there as I did not share those memories with them. Asian religions are special to those from there and I did not want to encroach on those traditions and rituals when I felt as though I did not have a part in it. Reading this chapter made me be able to put into the words the separation I was feeling from religion in Asia.
McGuire also discusses the role of religious experience in different religions and its varying degrees. She mentions that the culture in Americans “does not particularly value [spiritual] experiences” but rather “on rational, intellectual, dispassionate ways of knowing” (p.20). I connected with this as my own beliefs in science never allowed me to connect with the religion that was presented to me as my own culture—Christianity—because I did not believe in the existence of God or the creation story that is presented in the religion. Reading this in the book allowed me to put my own experiences with religion into words. My journey has not been one that I’ve put into words as I’ve gone through it as I’ve never had to share it with someone else. Seeing these ideas that McGuire has presented has allowed me to shape my own journey in a way that allowed me to write it down in essay form to share with my peers in class.