The Sociology of Religionby Dr. S
Welcome to The Sociology of Religion. This is Dr Michael S’s course blog for Sociology 231: The Sociology of Religion from Athabasca University. Sociology 231 is a respectful, sensitive, but critical examination of the Earthling institution of religion. On this blog you will find short articles by Dr. S. exploring various related topics as well as examples of the best work produced by students in the class. If you’d like to learn more about the sociology of religion, visit Athabasca University, become a student, and register in the course.
Posts by Dr S.
Atheists reject human spirituality outright, believing that we are nothing more than the cells of our physical body. But atheists reject human spirituality based on limited knowledge and perspective, specifically the rejection of “Church God” and the elite ecclesiastical institutions which propagate it. But there is more to human spirituality than the institutionalized elite esoteric/exoteric spirituality of western religious institutions. Atheist or not, this “something more” is something worth looking at.
Did you know, famous American psychologist Abraham Maslow thought that mystical experience was the authentic core of all religion and spirtuality. Maslow thought that all religions, all spiritualities, and all spiritual sensibilities were rooted in a mystic’s experiences.
What is religion? Is it opiate? Is it infantile delusion? Is it revealed word of God? Or, is it something else altogether?
Are scientists spiritual? The answer, as you might not guess, is yes. In fact, recent research suggests that the majority of scientists at top universities in North America have spiritual leanings, even though they may not admit it in collegial company.
We live in a modern, materialist world; so you would think that mysticism and mystical experience would be a thing of our irrational past, but it is not so. As Dr. S. points out in this article, the majority of people have one or more mystical experiences in there lifetime.
Thousands of years before the bible was written, creation stories centered on the Goddess, which celebrated vitally important aspects of life. Societies were led by the matriarch, who earned her status of authority through practical knowledge in childcare, agriculture, farming and all other communal tasks of living.
Pagan and Neopagans celebrate their holy days and festivals based on nature and the changing of seasons. The Pagan/Neopagan seasonal cycle, called the Wheel of the Year, consists of eight major Sabbats. The Sabbats are happy occasions filled with celebrations of the seasons.
Did modern Druids become Pagans, or did modern Pagans become Druids? A little of both, possibly. The last part of the twentieth century has seen Paganism expand beyond Wicca to include a number of nature-based beliefs and practices as well as the reimagining of the religions of our ancestors.
Listening to the students talk in this course it is clear that being spiritual and having religion bring a lot of positive benefits. At the same time some people “give up” religion. Almost invariably they do so because of the hypocrisy and the exclusions they see in religion. Its a question of “love they neighbor” unless he’s black, different, gay, or a “she”. The author of this essay Valerie covers these bases pretty well.
Here is a paper by an Athabasca University Sociology 231 Student that points to a tradition of suppression in Christianity. This is not to point fingers. The “sacred” text of all religious have been tampered and doctored with in some way either because class, gender, and national interests. It is just to say, whether you are one of the faithful, a skeptic, or just someone seeking answers to the big questions of life, it is something to be aware of.