Lived Religion: Faith and Practice in Everyday Life

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How can we grasp the complex religious lives of individuals such as Peter, an ordained Protestant minister who has little attachment to any church but centers his highly committed religious practice on peace-and-justice activism? Or Hannah, a devout Jew whose rich spiritual life revolves around her women's spirituality group and the daily practice of meditative dance? Or Laura, who identifies as Catholic but rarely attends Mass, and engages daily in Buddhist-style meditation at her home altar arranged with symbols of Mexican American popular religion? Diverse religious practices such as these have long baffled scholars, whose research often starts with the assumption that individuals commit, or refuse to commit, to an entire institutionally framed package of beliefs and practices.

Meredith McGuire points the way forward toward a new way of understanding religion. She argues that scholars must study religion not as it is defined by religious organizations, but as it is actually lived in people's everyday lives. Drawing on her own extensive fieldwork, as well as recent work by others, McGuire explores the many, seemingly mundane, ways that individuals practice their religions and develop their spiritual lives. By examining the many eclectic and creative practices -- of body, mind, emotion, and spirit -- that have been invisible to researchers, she offers a fuller and more nuanced understanding of contemporary religion.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An invaluable resource that broadens understandings of the complicated interactions of personal spirituality and social contexts. ...This important book provides an extraoridnary overview that challenges quantitative researchers to develop new approaches and stimulates qualitative researchers to addres new questions in new ways."
--Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

"Meredith McGuire's Lived Religion richly endows an expanding academic literature highlighting the relevance of religious-spiritual practices that are typically excluded from the received view of what counts as religion and spirituality. ...McGuire's thoughtful, intellectually engaging, and well-written book is a welcome addition to the analysis of the prevalence of religion and spirituality in everyday practices. ...McGuire succeeds in making visible the many hybrid sources of religious community and commitment that might otherwise remain beyond the gaze of scholarly attention."
--American Journal of Sociology

"McGuire's thoughtful, intellectually engaging, and well-written book is a welcome addition to the analysis of the prevalence of religion and spirituality in everyday practices."Michele Dillon, University of New Hampshire

"This is an important book in the sociology of religion, because it prods us to take seriously religious analysis...."--Wyndy Corbin Reushling

"...A creative blending of a personal and professional narrative and normative zeal to reform the field of sociology and religion... The book succeeds in its goal to infuse tired debates in the sociology of religion with a fresh perspective. It will stimulate many conversations about which lamppost we should look under to find religion in contemporary society, how it got there, and where it is going." --Contemporary Sociology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195368338
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/22/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Meredith McGuire is Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She has written and edited numerous books, most recently Personal Knowledge and Beyond: Reframing the Ethnography of Religion, co-edited with Jim Spickard and Shawn Landres.

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Table of Contents

1 Everyday religion as lived 3

2 Contested meanings and definitional boundaries : historicizing the sociology of religion 19

3 Popular religious expressions today : U.S. Latinos and Latinas 45

4 Popular religions in practice today : southern white evangelicals 67

5 Spirituality and materiality : why bodies matter 97

6 Embodied practices for healing and wholeness 119

7 Gendered spiritualities 159

8 Rethinking religious identity, commitment, and hybridity 185

Notes 215

References 255

Index 283

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