This past week in class we reviewed and clarified the topic of Ethnography. Breaking down the word ethnography it describes writings about people. When an individual is utilizing ethnography there are do’s and don’t. You can not use ethnography on one person it is a tool to be used during sociological observation of an entire community. Two key components are investigating peoples lives and reporting lives to others. Ethnography is away to see from a different standpoint. Most times starting from a certain standpoint would imitate a sort of bias to sociological perspective however seeing from a standpoint is not bias because there is no way to not hold a Bias because it is in our nature whether we are aware of it as humans or not. Having multiple perspectives allows the sociologist to produce more of an understanding and comprehension of the world around the object being observed. Reflexive Ethnography has four skills sets to be utilized, listening and understanding, willing to be vulnerable, stand up to ones own personal presumptions, recognition of ones personal cultural baggage.
Lastly, there are six stages of ethnography, Investigating primitive peoples, cultural relativism, modernization theory, interpretive ethnography, colonial complicity, focus on representation. Interpretation of ethnography and focusing on representing the results of the ethnography are two key components of the six stages
This past week in class we went over the 6 Stories of religion. Summarizing the main theme of these stories helped to get a bigger picture of what the theme across was and how it is interpreted now. The one that resonated me the most is Story #4. There are 3 underlying culture desires that is within the story. People seeking community in a mass of society. The relationships in a society are transactions. The belief of religion has become less important than the actual connection that is created within the community. Make these two statements true. The first one is that religion is one of the few remaining sources of the community. The second one is that religion is a solace in an atomized word.
This story resonated the most with me because the statement of belief as a religion decreasing in importance but yet the reason individuals go to church is for that sense of community. I find this to be come more and more evident as our community becomes more advanced.
This past weekend I stumbled on an article on the topic of new archaeologist findings and religion. There were several valued belongings of the people of Lake Titicaca, today it is known as Bolivia. In the excavation there were two gold medallions, metal plaques , incense burners, animal remains and stones located near the Khao reef. Since it was all found by the reef there is some assumption that this was a ritual site for the people. It is too early; however to put a name or know the significance of the meanings of these pieces that were found in regards to their religion. Not only this but the value that was held between the relationship of trading and religion. For example some of the animal remains and other remains found were items that are specific to the Pacific Ocean and would not be found in Lake Titicaca. Which leads to the belief that some of the remains that had religions ties were held at a higher standard than others.
I found this article very important and when archaeologists discover these items I believe it should be spoken about more. It is important to look at our past of religion and different areas of how communities operated in their religious communities because in someway it all connects back to where certain religions are today.
In the reading of Is Religion The Problem by Mark Juergensmeyer there is reflection and discussion on the debates that surrounded the question of how 9/11 was started and the questions that many individuals made on whether or not religion has a fault In these type of events, is religions violent etc. In the case of terrorist attacks and religion in Islam people tend to assume that the religion is the problem. On the other hand, there are now more activist groups arising that are filled with hate on the culture and economy that has any ties to that specific religion. This article made me realize how at risk we are as a nation and even broader, the world, due to the high rising tension.
What I mean by this is that due to the all the attacks and terrorism within churches and attacks that happen in public areas it is now in societies nature to tie hate to a certain religion. It is becoming more intertwined than ever. For example, as soon as an attack has made news there is automatic speculation that that plan was brought into place by a terrorist group. Since this group likely comes from an area that all ready has tensions rising in their own community it is extremely easy for society to come up with different theories about the group. Which results in hate onto others no matter if the people do have relations with the group or not. At this moment in time the word religion and the word attacks can grasp the publics interest in a heart beat where in years past this never use to be the case. As the number of attacks on individuals increase so does the intensity and tension on how society views religions.
Even though our concept of religion and the way in which one may consider themselves to be religious has changed over the years we, the United States, has unfortunately become more aware of the religion; however, I have realized it is due to the attacks that have recently been put on churches and or individuals from a specific religion. This past week with the New Zealand shooting I saw a different reaction from individuals in and outside of the United States than the responses we usually give.
The attack on the Christchurch Mosque, located in New Zealand was met with outrage, terror and quick responses from the Prime Minister. Jacinda Ardnern spoke and put a strict ban on guns and this only took one shooting for them to make this decision which has most Americans outraged in comparison to the amount of shootings that have taken place in our nation and no actions or consequences met with it. When I first heard this news, myself and many others felt slightly desensitized to the event; however, I had multiple friends that have study abroad through Redlands to New Zealand and seeing their hurt for the community that they once lived in made me realize in a different capacity the impact of this event. This was one of the first times that an event outside of the US I had to some extent a connection to. I found it interesting that the time that had passed between the event up in till the new ban was put into place was little to no time. When these events happen I always ponder to what extent do we have to wait for change to take place?
New Zealand shooting hits home for American Muslims
Previously in class we viewed the film Born Again: Life in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church located in central Massachusetts. The film presented different perspectives of families lifestyle in the church community. The pastor discusses his early struggle with his wife and the elements that tested their relationship which triggered self reflection within themselves and their relationship with God. This allowed them to be born again with a now stable and fulfilling relationship. However, this had a chain reaction onto other families relationships and the pastors brothers relationship with his wife and how multiples couples need to be reborn again because that will fit all their problems in their relationships.
I found this church highly intriguing due to its laid back atmosphere and certain points in time to freely speak during the service. Furthermore, the way in which individuals perceived themselves prior to being born again is a perspective I have never heard. They would describe themselves as stubborn, self centered, bitter, etc., and after being born again they have to constantly remind themselves and work at not falling into the negative mindset that these members of the church had been prior to being reborn. From a sociological perspective there is a consistent pattern that the wife made sacrifices to satisfy their husband than found it within themselves that they are worth more than what they are getting out of their relationship. When the wife becomes absent the husband realizes that they have lost something great and are humbled by this experience. This is a common factor that is being portrayed in todays society and is implemented even more due to the recent Women’s movements to be able to help women recognize their worth and realize their full value.
In the duration of the class period this week, groups presented their observations from their first congregation visit. During the presentations I found it interesting that even though the majority of these churches are located within blocks of each other they all have vastly different ways in which their communities operate. For example, the congregation that myself and my partner had visited was located in downtown Redlands on the corner of West Olive ave. In this location there is about 4 other churches located on each corner. There could easily be tension and mishaps between these congregations and ways in which they could persuade individuals to join their community; however, only speaking from an outsiders observation, this does not seem to be an issue. This is one aspect that I grasped from observing other groups. The results of the groups presentations were mixed as well.
I had a previous expectation that the groups that went together were likely to have the same results and that the only variable would be the type of the church that the pairs went to. However, there were multiple variables during the visits. Some pairs presented that they had gone together, yet sometimes one individual felt more uncomfortable than the other person and or one person observed more than the other person in the group. This is a good explanation for even if we as humans experienced the same things in life it will always effect us differently depending on the person. The concept of religion is especially important in regards to this concept and the different relationships, conversations e.g. that one might go through in life.
This week in class my group presented on our book written by Marion Goldman on the topic of why Women whom are successful in the work field decide to join a Cult. When discussing this book with my group after previously reading it on our own we found similarities of perspectives that were discussed in the book that were a challenge to grasp. We found this vital that those points such as explaining the composite that Goldman discusses would be necessary to emphasize. The way in which Goldman conducted her research was brilliant. She knew that in order to protect everyone in this religion names would be confidential; however, the fact that so many of the women stories were similar that she had the ability to group them together making three different main groups was highly intriguing. What made an even greater impact on the research within the composites was the quotations that she pulled from her discussions with these various women and were implemented throughout the book.
On the other hand, the group that discussed the Mega Church was a complete contrast to my groups presentation; however there is always the similarity that individuals fall in to a certain religious community to belong to something bigger than themselves. I personally find Mega Churches more comforting and I always tend to feel a sense of relief when I don’t go to a small church service. From a sociological perspective I believe its because the more people that are at the church the less pressure it is to perfect your every move. For example when I belonged to a smaller church everyone had a closer relationship and therefore all eyes were on everyone and if you made the wrong move or said the wrong thing there was an immediate shift in atmosphere where as Mega churches are the complete opposite and tend to carry a more relaxed atmosphere.
In class this past week the first group presented on Protestantism in America. There were three churches represented in their presentation. The Hope Chapel, Vineyard and Calvary. I found it intriguing that these names rang a bell with myself regarding having previous knowledge of these Churches due to the rising population within these churches. These churches have an open, relaxed, casual atmosphere that allows for individuals who are trying to discover what they want in a church more appealing than the standard Formal Churches. My first time going to a church that was outside of my personal norm was a Church like the Calvary Church. It didn’t feel as if I was even at church and because of that it led me to want to have continuous visits to this church. On the other hand, If I decided not to go every Sunday it didn’t feel as if the organization was going to shun me. Currently, individuals in college, or just out of college tend to need a flexible schedule and when days don’t go as they are planned for themselves the last subject that a young adult is going to want to think about is how individuals will view them at their church. A church should not be a place where an individual feels more pressure added on to their daily life, it needs to be a release and an escape to recollect oneself resulting in a clear mind in order to get through harder days. The presentation made me reflect on this and evaluate this as being a possibility as to why the interest rate of these types of Churches are growing rapidly
As I looked at various charts and relationships between each questionnaire, this week, regarding how many individuals believed in the Bible, affiliated or nonaffiliated with a religion, whom has left a previous religion etc. All the results of the survey have various factors affecting each person which isn’t taken into question when an individual only has three answers to pick from during these types of surveys. Chaves brings this into discussion when a poll was taken about the belief of the Bible. The results from this survey shows a decline in the belief of the Bible. The question that was asked was “Which of these statements comes closest to describing your feelings about the bible?”, the options of answering the question are “The bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word”, “The Bible is the inspired word of God, but not everything in it should be taken literally, word for word” or “The Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by men” (Chaves 32). If this survey were to be taken more recently most individuals would not know which option to pick; nor would be satisfied with these answers. It makes me come to the realization that religion and belief in bible is one the most difficult topics to get a correct grasp at through a survey, unless all questions can be free answered.
Knowing that there is a decline in belief in the Bible doesn’t mean that less people believe in the Bible, it could be that less people believe in what they use to know about the Bible not that there is necessarily a greater number of non-believers in the world than there have been before. People may be coming more aware of the “truth” of the Bible for themselves than what they had believed as a child.