Last week in class we watched a film that followed the lives of a few individuals inside of a religious organization. It really aided to highlight the point that we have been learning about; that individual experiences within a religion are unique and cannot be generalized. The reasons people join religious organizations are varied, but this is not to say that generalizations cannot be made. As we discussed after the film, the people whose lives were followed seemed to use religion as a coping mechanism for many things occurring in their life. Things that may have been beyond their control. Equally important to note is that theywouldn’t necessarily define their religiosity that way, it was an outside observation.
This made me think about vulnerability in general. When people are, vulnerable or experiencing a hardship, it seems like an opportunity for change. A form of change is through joining religious organizations. But furthermore, I thought about cultic traditions and those that might pose dangerous or exploitive lifestyle changes. It must be easier, through individual conflicts or lack of control to enter something like a cult compared to people who might be more settled or have internal senses of purpose. It must be extremely difficult at that point to ween from clinging to a religion/organization that provides answers to those problems. This is an extreme example but through the film I began to understand the ways that a sense of conflict or lack of purpose can create an environment that becomes a catalyst for wholehearted belief and devotion.