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Make-Your-Own Religion

Make-Your-Own Religion

By Claude Fischer, Made in America…..
In their best-selling 1980s book on the tensions between community and individualism in America, Habits of the Heart, my Berkeley colleagues Robert Bellah and Ann Swidler, along with three other coauthors, described the version of religion that a woman whom they called Sheila had described to them. She believed in a faith of loving and being gentle with oneself; she labeled this theology “Sheilism” – “just my own little voice.” The authors of Habits saw her declaration as an expression of a growing tendency in America toward isolation and self-absorption raised here to an ethical principle. (The term “Sheilaism” is now so well-known it has its own Wikipedia entry.)

A Tough Season for Believers

A Tough Season for Believers

By Ross Douthat, New York Times…..
But for Christians, this sunny story has a dark side. Religious faith looks more socially beneficial to America than ever, but the institutional Christianity that’s historically generated most of those benefits seems to be gradually losing its appeal. In the last 50 years, the Christian churches have undergone what “American Grace” describes as a shock and two aftershocks. The initial earthquake was the cultural revolution of the 1960s, which undercut religious authority as it did all authority, while dealing a particular blow to Christian sexual ethics. The first aftershock was the rise of religious conservatism, and particularly evangelical faith, as a backlash against the cultural revolution’s excesses.