Chapter

American Lived Religion

Michele Dillon and Paul Wink

in In the Course of a Lifetime

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780520249004
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940031 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520249004.003.0011
American Lived Religion

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This chapter discusses the broad religious life of America. The findings of the study being analyzed in it indicate that many ordinary Americans in the decades preceding the 1960s readily invoked a language of individual autonomy in talking about church and their own religious habits. This autonomy enabled them to arbitrate selectively among churches and denominations, to invoke a morality not explicitly tied to theology, and to appreciate the sacred whether churched or not. This same autonomy has allowed variation within American families, both among parents and between parents and children, in their church habits. Furthermore, religiousness and spiritual seeking have long coexisted in America. What has changed is that the presence of a greatly expanded spiritual marketplace since the 1960s has made it easier for Americans to engage in a range of spiritual practices and beliefs. The chapter argues that American society not only includes, but also benefits from having dwellers and seekers, or conservers and explorers.

Keywords: religious life; America; religious habit; autonomy; spiritual marketplace

Chapter.  5641 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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