return to religion-onlineSociology of the Society
Review of Spiritual Marketplace, by Wade Clark Roof, about the spiritual needs and pursuits of the post-World War II generations.
The author attends a meeting of the Promise Keepers at Oakland Coliseum and reports on the event, as well as the phenomenon of this successful men's movement.
Extrapolating from Robert Bellah's division of American sacred and secular myths, Robert Wuthnow describes and contrasts what he calls our biblical civil religion and our Enlightenment-based moral and political philosophies. He finds current expressions of both to be internally divisive as well as at odds with each other, usually based on a conservative/liberal split that weakens the effectiveness of both "civil religions," and leaves the way open for secular ideologies including material success, radical individual freedom, and an amoral pragmatism.
A summary of the author's doctoral dissertation research on U.S. teens and religious identity, in which she explored two interrelated questions: what do teens mean when they say they are religious (or not religious)? And how do these identifications relate to their experiences with the visual media?
Generation Xers want their churches to be churches, not soup kitchens. People come to church, after all, looking for spiritual food. They shouldn’t leave feeling like they have to go to an ashram to find it.
Marty reviews the book Habits of the Heart, by Robert N. Bellah, Richard Madsen, William M. Sullivan, Ann Swidler and Steven Tipton. The authors describe how the self-reliant American leaves home, leaves church. Thus today citizens may believe in God, but their liberal religion has few holds on duty. Meanwhile our rigorous sectarian religion promotes few impulses toward the public good; rather, it stands off, supporting privatism beyond the walls of the church, individualism in the public zone and incoherence overall.
The authors revisit their best-selling Habits of the Heart and discover that in American society individualism has not diminished. Rather, under the influence of neo-capitalism, it has increased.
A review of Loose Connections: Joining Together in America's Fragmented Communities, by Robert Wuthnow.
An interview with Robert D. Putnam who wrote Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital. America and the church needs to build more "connections."
The small-group movement is beginning to alter American society because it is changing our understandings of community and redefining spirituality.
If we are to reverse the decay of American cities, we must realize that at root their problems are moral. Our social ills are traceable to our deficit of community; if we want to solve them, we must build a moral framework.
Although American society in terms of social and economic variables are present in Dr. Bellah's writing here, his approach is rather a study and analysis of cultural meaning.
The establishment prospered when it was chauvinist and super-American in ways its heirs would refuse to be.
Militias and the Future of the Far Right, by Jeffrey Kaplan
Both books reviewed serve to explain the appearance of a great deal of anti-government anger in the militia movement and other right-wing causes.
(ENTIRE BOOK) Robert Bellah and Phillip Hammond give a thoughtful, carefully researched analysis of international varieties of civil religion, comparing them with American civil religion. The American model is peculiar especially in the nature of its pluralism.