The prescient Ms. Palin

You have to hand it to Sarah Palin. She knows how to make a splash.

I was surprised at the fuss that erupted when Ms. Palin started giving speeches calling for “mama grizzly” feminists on the Right to organize and . . . (okay, so the “and” is a bit unclear to me). But to organize, anyway, and take back the feminist label. (A good overview from a range of perspectives is available at The Week’s website.)

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The church as source of emotional support (part 2)

To understand how religious support fits with other aspects of individuals’ lives, we performed a 2-step analysis. First, we used a statistical technique called latent class analysis that can analyze patterns of responses across survey questions; using this technique, we could understand how religious sources of emotional support were combined with other sources into an overall profile of emotional support. 

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The church as source of emotional support (part 1)

Robert Putnam, the influential political scientist, has argued that religion undergirds the well-being of individuals and promotes healthy, strong communities, because it provides “social capital” -- relationships of trust and care-taking. Religious capital can be either bridgingcapital, which links individuals to others who are socially (racially, economically, ideologically) dissimilar, and bridging between the world of the congregation and the larger social context. Or it can be bonding capital, which primarily builds relationships of trustwithin the congregation among those who are probably very similar in terms of race, education, and income.

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The pig is not the problem

The originating and continuing impetus behind sociological inquiry into religion has been a sense that religion is “at odds” with modernity, continually undermined by ongoing rationalization. Secularization theory was modified and elaborated, but remained essentially unchallenged until the late twentieth century, when a conjunction of theoretical developments and a world-wide revival of religious identification and public religious discourse led to a reconsideration of the secularization thesis. The most influential statement in opposition to the secularization perspective in sociology has been the market theory of religion, including both a strict rational choice account and a “new paradigm” account that uses the market as a metaphor for the voluntarism, pluralism, and choice characteristic of religion in modern societies.

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Work and Careers

When you hear the term Baby Boomers, most likely a bundle of characteristics comes to mind that makes them distinctive—they are iconoclasts, activists, authors of the therapeutic revolution, spiritual explorers, restless entrepreneurs. Likewise, we associate the Great Generation with the hardships of growing up in the Depression and the sacrifices they made during World War II. Are today’s emerging adults a distinctive generation, and will they put their own stamp on our culture and institutions? 

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Faith and Spirituality among Emerging Adults

The religious landscape of the United States is in a period of long-term, fundamental transformation, and all of the evidence suggests that today’s emerging adults will provide a catalyst that accelerates this transformation. Since 1990, the percentage of Americans who claim no religious identity has more than doubled, from 7% to 15%. There is a focus on spirituality—as a way of talking about experiences of connection and transcendence, as a way to designate a wide-ranging set of practices used to connect with the sacred, and as an expression of a critical distance from organized religion. At least 20% of Americans identify as “spiritual and not religious,” and over 40% identify as both spiritual and religious. There has been a reaction against the recent politicization of religion; the “culture wars” have caused some Christians to turn away from their religious identity altogether, and surveys show a new preference for more distance between religious leaders and politics.

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"Trust me"

On Sunday evening at Messiah College, the two contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination agreed to talk in a “deeply personal” way about “issues of faith and compassion and how a president’s faith can affect us all.”

Such an event evidences a decided shift in public discourse and political culture; until recently, it would have been thought to be in exceedingly poor taste, if not a dangerous diluting and blurring of the (imaginary, preferred) sharp dark black line separating church and state.

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