In the Course of a Lifetime
Tracing Religious Belief, Practice, and Change
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Illustrations
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Many social scientists are indebted to people who are so generous of spirit that they willingly sit down and talk to interviewers, answering their intrusive and probing questions about all kinds of things going on in their lives. Our debt must be larger than most. The data we use in this book came from a longitudinal study of men and women born in ...
1 The Vibrancy of American Religion
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If I had had the sense then that I have now, I’d refuse to live in Texas.” So declared Barbara Shaw when interviewed in 1958, at age thirty, fi ve years after she had left Berkeley, California, with her young husband, an engineer who was returning to west Texas to work in his father’s prosperous ranching business.1 Becoming part of a well-established Texas family with a beautiful home might have struck those who knew Barbara as a perfect match for what researchers described as ...
2 Meet the Parents: The Family ContextShaping Religious Socialization inthe 1930s and 1940s
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The recency of California’s White settlement is such that “in 1850, the West ‘Coast’ was not along the shores of the Pacifi c . . . [but] was lapped by the waters of the Mississippi” (Finke and Stark 1992: 66). In their extensive historical mapping of religious adherents in America, Roger Finke and Rodney Stark note that the “Far West,” including Mormon Utah, was essentially unsettled in 1850, and that across the Mississippi the only states “having any substantial popula-...
3 Adolescent Religion in the 1930sand 1940s
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We’ve tried to give her everything she wanted—trips, parties. art lessons, has gone horseback riding. We’ve explored all the areas around San Francisco . . . [we’ve taken] car trips up and From this opening quote, we might well presume that Mrs. White was summarizing the social activities of a teenager in today’s era of the overscheduled child. But she was referring to the recre-ational activities of her fi fteen-year-old daughter, Melissa, in Berkeley ...
4 The Imprint of Individual Autonomyon Everyday Religion in the 1950s
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Religious freedom is a staple of American culture, most visibly evident in the many religious denominations present in America, the free expression clause of the Constitution, and the formal separation of church and state (cf. Ahlstrom 1972; Warner 1993). The freedom of individuals to defi ne their religious identity and to exercise their own authority in regard to religion became especially pronounced in the 1960s (see, e.g., Greeley 1985; Roof 1993; Wuthnow 1998). The ...
5 The Ebb and Flow of Religiousnessacross the Life Course
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Does religious involvement change over the life course? This is a simple question, but it eludes simple answers because it requires access to long-term longitudinal data spanning many decades of the life course. Longitudinal studies require researchers to have not only the foresight to predict at the inception of a study what questions will be relevant to future scientists but also the patience to plant a seed whose fruit will be harvested only by later generations of researchers. It ...
6 Individual Transformation in ReligiousCommitment and Meaning
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We know from the fi ndings presented in the previous chap-ter that the study participants as a group showed relatively little change in their level of religiousness across adulthood, despite the dip in their religiousness around midlife evident in the 1970 interviews. But this information does not tell us whether indi-vidual members of our study who were more religious than others in early adulthood tended to remain comparatively so in middle or late ...
7 Spiritual Seeking
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Recent years have witnessed a signifi cant increase in the proportion of Americans who are unchurched believers, who distance them-selves from church and organized religion while still believing in God or a Higher Power (Hout and Fischer 2002; Roof 1999) and adher-ing to a personal religion that is uncoupled from conventional forms of religiousness (Smith 2002). Although the interest in seeking sacred mean-ing independent of church participation was accentuated by the cultural ...
8 The Activities, Personality, and SocialAttitudes of Religious and Spiritual Individualsin Late Adulthood
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The aging of the populous baby boom generation has increased public interest in identifying the nature of positive functioning in older adulthood.1 According to a traditional assumption, late adulthood is a time in the life course when individuals experience a decline in personal meaning and purpose as a result of their dimin-ished social roles and physical and cognitive impairment, but a spate of more recent studies suggest otherwise (see, e.g., James and Wink 2007; ...
9 Spiritual Seeking, Therapeutic Culture, and Concern for Others
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Much has been written in recent years about the threat posed to the communal web of American society by the increasing displacement of church-based religion in favor of an individu-alized, personal religion. Most notably, “Sheilaism,” the personal reli-gion embodied by Sheila Larson in the sociology best-seller Habits of the Heart, crystallized for Robert Bellah and his coauthors (1985) how a diffuse and therapeutic spirituality is both narcissistic and detrimen-...
10 The Buffering Role of Religion in Late Adulthood
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When we interviewed David Allen at his sun-drenched home on the shore of Lake Tahoe in the summer of 1997, he was as articulate, insightful, optimistic, and energetic at age sev-enty-six as he had been during earlier interviews in his thirties, forties, and fi fties. Retired from an economically successful career in which he combined high school teaching and a mountain resort business, David continued to work part-time restoring and managing rental property. ...
11 American Lived Religion
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In America, “the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom . . . are intimately united and . . . reign in common,” as Alexis de Tocque-ville observed in the early nineteenth century (1835/1946: 308). We strongly concur with Tocqueville’s perceptive assessment of American religion, and we argue that it applies equally well now as in the mid-1800s. One would be hard pressed to fi nd in Europe, the ancestral home of almost all our study participants, anyplace, before or after ...
Methodological Appendix: MeasuringReligiousness and Spiritual Seeking inthe IHD Longitudinal Study
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Page Count: 295
Publication Year: 2007