Here are some comments from a student who just wrote the final for my Sociology 231: Sociology of Religion course. I especially like the part where the student says the course helped everything make sense for them. What more can a pedagog ask for than that?
As you go through life you get taught that everything fits neatly into their own compartments. There is religion, politics, economics, society, racism and a host of other entities that we are told to accept as separate. So that’s how you come to approach the world: as compartmentalized. I honestly never realized how political religion was and that stood out to me throughout every lesson. I had this notion that religion was supposed to just promote the good but truly was naive enough to think that “good” was one of those separate entities that everyone had the same understanding for. Talk about eye-opening to learn how religion set the stage for white supremacy and now everything that is going on in the US politically makes so much sense. Don’t get me wrong, it is still frustrating, but I at least understand it now.
There is no generic anything, aside from the tendency to establish beliefs that suit our own individual needs. Smaller communities might experience more cohesion around the religious attitudes present but overall it seems we are all just looking for as many resources as possible, whether in this life or the next. I think it was just the introduction of our textbook that pointed out how undomesticated animals simply fill a need and don’t need to over-indulge, yet as humans that may be the most ideal outcome imaginable.
I have been no better, I have come to the humility of acknowledging that I have opportunistically exploited religion myself. I like parts of Buddhism, but I don’t follow all of it and actively working to help others often takes a backseat to whatever resources and needs I feel I need; I love yoga – but from a New Age perspective that has lost many of the original qualities it was designed to promote. I believe in one God, but that God wouldn’t like Trump or anyone similar to him. Hip hop is a more morally sound religion than anything that would promote or accept slavery. I have plucked out pieces that make me feel good and leave me feeling like I am “right”. Although, since I was lucky enough to read your paper on Rock and Roll Jesus, I feel like maybe I am not all that wrong…
The greatest part that comes from all of this knowledge is that everything starts to make so much more sense. Things aren’t separated, they are interconnected, extremely human and personal. There’s no right or wrong, there are just different people that are dealing with their own things that require them to find answers to different things. It only has to be right for us.
Mike Sosteric (Dr. S.)