- Check out “Woo Woo Versus Doo Doo,” my post on the blog of Oxford University Press. The deal is this: in a world that strongly values reason, spirituality can come off as “woo woo”—flaky and anti-intellectual. So what do educated spiritual seekers, who value both reason and spirituality, do about that? See what some of them have to say about it.
Scholarly Articles & Book Chapters
- Not Just Individualism: Studying American Culture and Religion after Habits of the Heart. Sociology of Religion (2007) Vol. 68, No. 2, pp. 195-200.
This article reflects on the legacy of the 1985 bestseller Habits of the Heart. Habits showed scholars they could talk directly to people about the nature of our society, and it showed us all how important conversation and communication are to building our culture. But if we focus too much on Habits‘ topic of individualism, we can miss out on other, creative aspects of our culture. This article’s page on the Sociology of Religion website is here.
- Beyond Literalism: Reflexive Spirituality and Religious Meaning. When we take things too literally in religion or in daily life, it can make it hard to find either one meaningful. Here I describe how people who practice reflexive spirituality reject literalism and instead approach religion and life in a way that brings out the meaning in both. This is chapter 10 in Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives, edited by Nancy Ammerman.
- Seeing Invisible Religion: Religion as a Societal Conversation about Transcendent Meaning. Sociological Theory (2005) Volume 23, Issue 2, pages 179–196.
Religion is not just about individual beliefs, and it’s not just about church. Religion is also something more nebulous that we can see spread throughout a culture. In this article, I describe religion as a broad societal conversation in which people create and exchange ideas about the meaning of life. The article’s page on the Sociological Theory website is here; it was also reprinted in Religions of Modernity: Relocating the Sacred to the Self and the Digital, edited by Stef Aupers and Dick Houtman.
- Speaking of Meaning in Modernity: Reflexive Spirituality as a Cultural Resource. Sociology of Religion (2001) Vol. 62, No. 3, pp.365-381.
It can be hard to find meaning in modern life; modern society is known for being “disenchanted.” In this article, I describe reflexive spirituality as a spiritual “language” that people are using to make modern life meaningful. Reflexive spirituality works because it embraces both the vibrancy of the transcendent and the solidity of reason. The article’s page on the Sociology of Religion website is here.