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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Religion and Spirituality

I got 2 things I want to ask you.

1. I went to a conference on spirituality and family today. As expected, there was the question of what to do with defining religion and spirituality. Here are three perspectives.

"Religion is for people who are afraid of going to Hell; spirituality is for people who have already been there."

"Spirituality is who you are and religion is what you do."

"Religion gives form to spirituality."

2. OK, that was one thing. The next is measuring religion and spirituality. The measures in the scholarly literature on religion and spirituality are summed up by the following:

church attendance (frequency of attendance)
religious affiliation (Denomination)
prayer frequency
religious importance ("How important is religion to you?")

That's about it. Now, I think that we all know that the influence of religion and spirituality cannot possibly be summed up in the above 4 variables. So, why are family researchers only using these token variables?

What do you think that family researchers ought to be measuring?

5 comments:

Matt said...

This has always been a fascinating question to me - how can the sociological-types measure spirituality?

Basically, I think you can measure religiosity (i.e., religious activity), but that is about as well as things will go for you. Other than that, spirituality (Christian or otherwise) pretty much defies any type of social-science-type measurement.

On the definition side, I like the middle one the best.

Fajita said...

It is clear that social science has a dilemma. On the one hand, ignoring religion and spirituality is like ignoring something as pervasive as gender or economic standing, but on the other hand, poor measurements of soemthing is worse than not measuring it at all.

What to do what to do.

Nancy said...

Answer: because family researchers are academics, and academics are notorious for ignoring the influence of religion in individual's lives.

Off-topic aside: Do you twitter? I just learned about this today and added the a twitter thingie to my blog today. So cool!!! So useless!!!

Len said...

To me religion has always been the dos and the don'ts.

To the extent of spirituality that I understand, I think it involves peace within oneself.

Since that is intrinsic, maybe it can not be measured.

It's kinda like the definition of love. It means one thing to one person and another to someone else.

In our modern society, the definition of marriage is being challenged. There's the lawful meaning and then there's the intrinsic individualist meaning.

Hummmm?????

Is there an answer to the question?

Nancy said...

Answer: because family researchers are academics, and academics are notorious for ignoring the influence of religion in individual's lives.

Off-topic aside: Do you twitter? I just learned about this today and added the a twitter thingie to my blog today. So cool!!! So useless!!!