This past week in class we’ve continually been learning about our peers’ books and what they teach about congregations and religiosity throughout America and the world. I was very interested by presentation about the Ammerman book, “Sacred Stories, Spiritual Tribes,” and the array of ways people feel spiritual and religious in their daily lives. In class it was mentioned that Amy Moff-Hudec worked on this project, whom I work very closely with in the Community Service Learning Office on campus. I went and talked with Amy and asked about her involvement on the project and learned a lot more about her education and research projects prior to working at Redlands. She told me about her work with Ammerman as a grad student, and the different experiences she had throughout the project, driving all around Massachusetts and other parts of the United States to conduct interviews, as well as the work she did for the book she wrote on her own.
Her favorite experience she had on the Ammerman project was really beautiful to me. She interviewed a Catholic woman who had a higher socioeconomic status than other participants in the study, who lived in a beautiful apartment in a good area. When Amy entered the apartment, she met the woman, lively and beautiful and open to speaking, but was taken aback because the only furniture in the entire apartment was a a single couch in the living room and a table in the kitchen. While talking about her spirituality, this woman explained that she felt called from God to give her possessions away to the sick and needy, and that she did not eat much at all because she preferred to spend her money on giving food to the disadvantaged, even though she was wealthy enough to afford to do both. It was an especially fascinating story because the Catholic church does not mandate such extreme charity, it was part of her own personal call and relationship with God, that came from within and above her, not through any societal or religious pressures.