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10 // Princeton University
Americans are religiously devout and divided, yet tolerant. Why? Fundamental problem: How can America be y y y Religiously devout Religiously diverse/polarized Religiously tolerant
Religiously Devout America is the most devout developed country in the world. This is based a parallel set of statistics, based in the lecture on 30% weekly religious service attendance slightly higher than Iran, and far higher than any other developed nation. (This is a curious measure it would be good to see the rest.) Herein lies the beginning of the story. The Emergence of Diversity In the 1950s, American church attendance was the highest ever most religious decade on record for the US. Then the 1960s happened, and we saw the most precipitous drop in religious adherence ever. This is a massively quick and most momentous change brought on by political liberation movements, sex, drugs, rock and roll, and so on. Vast changes happened over just a couple of years. For example, belief in the morality of premarital sex shifted from 25% approval (1960) to 50% approval (1966)in six years. [These dates may be off.] The shifts are exponentially represented among young people. This massive shift in a fundamental moral category represented the best predictor of a parallel shift in church attendance. Large portions of the public (especially liberal Protestants and Anglo (non-Latino) Catholics) shot off in a secular direction. [Most people who were raised Catholic today are not Catholic. The growth in the Catholic church is a Spanish-speaking growth 65% of people in Mass in 2010 are Latino.] This shift which seemed like liberation for many was seen as a massive collapse to some others particularly by evangelicals / fundamentalists. So, there s a rallying cry among those for whom the sexual revolution constitutes a massive problem. This precipitates the rise of the Religious Right which begins as a reactive moral issue contra the sexual revolution of 1960s, distills into a political movement in the 1980s, but is never a theological movement. There is very limited correlation between biblical literalism and connection to the Religious Right.
Caleb J. D. Maskell Notes on Robert Putnam s Tanner Lecture #2 10.28.10 // Princeton University Big question: What happens to those pushed to the margins of this polar movement, namely the non-religious Conservative and the religious Progressive? Putnam argues that they changed their religion to fit their politics. The emergence of the young nones : There is a new group of people, nones who believe in God, pray, go to church sometimes, but are deeply alienated from organized religion. Nationwide these are about 14%. Among young people, they are almost 30%. Their emergence is massively rapid and significant. They are rising at the same rate that the new, young evangelicals emerged in the 1970s and 1980s. They are going to begin their trajectory towards religious practice far later, and from a place of far less formation. This trend will have a massive impact upon the moral formation and political orientation of the nation if it continues. (Putnam thinks that it will not continue.) [The salient charts in the book are the young nones and the chart on whether religion is good for America.] The saying grace indicator: 46% of America never says grace; 44% always does. 10% does sometimes. Whether one does or does not say grace is a substantial indicator of a wide variety of one s politics, ethics, religion, disposition, etc. [This is not true of liberal Protestants, or I think of many of the younger, Third Way postProtestant Christian crowd.] The relationship between religious belief and the claims to absolute truth: 8% of Americans say there is very little truth in any religion, 12% say there is only truth in one religion (presumably theirs), and 80% say there are basic truths in many religions. This graph is very significant because the extremes represent the worst fears of each other, but the reality is that the 80% center represents a middle way. This data is represented and reinforced by charts on belief in Heaven and Hell, salvation etc. Putnam jokes that this data is important because it is the wrong answer!Predictably, the clergy give the correct answers, but the people simply ignore or disregard those answers because as will be discussed below people have a diversity of LOVES that the theological grids of their formal religious systems do not hold in the sphere of salvation. [OK but what are the determining factors within this data? Why do some people actually adhere to their religious communities? What is the attraction of identitymaking in these social worlds? Putnam has not addressed this yet at all.] Putnam has shown that we are devout and diverse in our religiosity. How does this work? The Emergence of Tolerance or the significance of Aunt Susan
We have deep, strong ties across religious perspectives. We LOVE people who believe things different from the things that our official religions teach. y 30% of Americans have changed religions since their youth
Caleb J. D. Maskell Notes on Robert Putnam s Tanner Lecture #2 10.28.10 // Princeton University y y y y y Interfaith marriage is on the rise most people getting married now have inlaws and/or close relatives in other religions. These two factors combine to make a massive amount of diversity, even if one remains entirely faithful to one s own tradition. Two out of five people s go-to friends who they talk to if they have a major problem are of religions different from our own. This is true across boundaries of social taboo as well, especially on the issue of homosexuality. What about Muslim Aunt Susan s ? ¶¶¶¶¶ Marie Griffith s response 1. The indicator of premarital sex in the changing culture is very good and helpful. However, they do not consider that the shift in attitudes towards premarital sex is gendered the issue is a concern about a rise in out of control female sexuality among the conservatives who become influential in constructing evangelical discourse. Is this not some of the irony present in the sexy conservatism of Sarah Palin and others? 2. Putnam s normative agenda is one of good religion (tolerant) vs. true believers. There is a tension here some have argued that Putnam is advancing a throwaway religiosity (as per the reviews of Wilfred McClay and David Hollinger) in an attempt to counteract the true believers. How can interaction happen in both directions, between the good and the true ? 3. Liminals. This is a very important category in this book, because there is acknowledgment that context means a great deal. The assumptions of the interlocutor matter a great deal in conversations about religion. Personal ambivalence is a very important thing to acknowledge. Marie wants more emphasis on the significance of the liminals. Mark Chaves s response 1. The story of the rise of evangelical religiosity is actually the story of liberal losses. This is a major story that needs to be told and understood. [Why did liberal religion fade so dramatically?] 2. The decline of liberal denominations does not mean the decline of theological liberalism. [Chaves reads the move away from biblical literalism, the finding of good in other religions, etc. as a retrenchment of theological liberal ideas. This seems highly questionable to me this sounds like the early church, or twelfth century Sorbonne Catholicism, or Miroslav Volf, or any number of Christians not weaned on the fundamentalist/modernist dialectic.]
Caleb J. D. Maskell Notes on Robert Putnam s Tanner Lecture #2 10.28.10 // Princeton University 3. American Muslims are, exceptionally, the most disliked religious group now. However, they will not be an exception to this story in a few decades. [Putnam responds that this is true, and that it is not a theological issue. White American evangelicals are the group most antagonistic to Muslims. Black American evangelicals are the group least antagonistic to Muslims. Why? Because there are lots of black Muslims. Black evangelicals have (effectively, according to Putnam s data sets) the same theology as white evangelicals. Theology is not the issue; rather the issue is relationship, friendship, LOVE. 4. American religious adherence is not going up. There is no resurgence, revival, increase except in the category of spiritual but not religious. Why do people think it is? Because of the increased connections to politics, to megachurches and megachurch pastors. But this is simply a move to morevisible religion, rather than an increase in religiosity. 5. American religion is usually not fundamentally altered by political events they are today s religious weather but not the climate itself.
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