Date: Mar 9, 2018
Category: Book Review Essay
Pohlong, B. (2004). Culture and Religion: A Conceptual Study. Mittal Publications In this particular book, the author elaborates on conceptual issue relating to the central role played by religion in culture. He starts by elaborating on what culture is and how it is attached to religion. People tend to be brought up in a particular cultural setting that gives then certain compactness and identity as individuals. Even if such individuals change places and go to live in communities that share different cultures from their own, these people tend to carry with them their own cultural backlog and make an effort of duplicating it in the new environment irrespective of whether the situations are hostile to its practice. In this day and age the idea of culture has become popular in that everyone claims to understand it and individuals attribute cultural association to almost anything. According to Pohlong (2004) culture implies perfection in all aspects. However, even though some individuals do not follow religious belief they are still caught up within the influences of the prevalent idea of religion within a particular community. People tend to understand religion more as a practical system of belief in something considered by human beings as beyond themselves and that which brings them together in an effort of organizing their lives into some sort of socio-religious society. It has been observed that every religious individual aims at achieving some objective through religious practices and this can be attributed to the fact that people are born into a socially organized religion and tend to live by the religion of their birth. The author also notes that religious behavior patterns have influence on and are influenced by what happens in the rest of culture. Religion can be viewed as a cultural stabilizer not only in France and the United States but the rest of the world in that both culture and religion provide moral codes of conduct that are responsible for regulating behavior patterns of individuals. Religion may be viewed as a part of culture alongside others such as political and economic orders as well as family. It should however not be determined that religion and culture are similar. A person’s choice of a course of action is determined by the value alternatives where such choices help people to realize their natural values at comparatively higher level. The author suggests that it is not possible for culture and religion to have significant meanings apart from value. Religion becomes a way of life when religious precepts as well as practices become part of living itself and influences every aspect of people’s lives. The book Culture and Religion may suggest that one can attain his/her own cultural identity even after losing one’s religion. This makes it impossible for one to change religion while claiming to follow a particular culture. Religion is an important cultural stabilizer in the world as it determines the way of life of people in addition to playing a key role in every society. Sengers, E., and Sunier, T. (2011). Religious Newcomers and the Nation State: Political Culture and Organized Religion in France and the Netherlands. Eburon Uitgeverij B.V. In this particular book, the authors discuss specifically on the issue of integration of Islam into the political as well as well as social framework of European societies in regards to successful future of the region. France is largely known to be a Catholic nation but is considered less so today than in the past. Protestanism has not only been poorly understood in this country but also often ignored. According to the authors (2011) the often catholic focused image of Christianity in France where majority of residents tend to identify culturally with Catholism does not help. Despite the lack of recognition, the Protestant community has distinguished itself and still does so by making important contributions to French society. The current contemporary situation of religion in France as well as other European nations is characterized by the loss of social power on in as far as religious institutions are concerned rather than the disappearance of religious sentiments. The authors note that the modern religious world is changing in the forms it takes in language as well as society. Religion now finds itself being prone to consumer choice as individuals decide to follow the messenger or group responding best to their objectives. It is rather unfortunate that religion in this case is not considered a cultural stabilizer in France but rather creates divisions amongst its citizens. The authors also point out to the fact that the construction of churches in new neighborhoods is requested as much by nonreligious individuals as by the religious ones. It is therefore important to address the issue of the socio-cultural foundations of religion in France. In situations where a religion is very much in the minority such as is the case with Protestanism in France, challenges become even more apparent. French protestanism in this day and age is confronted with problems of identity and visibility where while its identity problems stem from its willingness to be open to the rest of the society as well as its ecumenical overtures towards the Catholic Church, its visibility problems stem from its over-adaptation to modern day society. According to the authors (2011) French Protestanism finds itself in question considering the fact that Protestanism’s secularizing virtues were previously appreciated. Now that established religion is no longer considered a huge part of power structure and individuals have freed themselves from the authority of priests and ministers, some of these individuals desire to see Protestanism regain its spirituality in the nation. Swift, D. C. (1998). Religion and the American Experience: A Social and Cultural History, 1765 – 1997. M.E. Sharpe. This is a book in which Swift (1998) discusses and expounds on a number of topics ranging from the early republic to early African American religion, nativism movements, fundamentalism to contemporary culture wars that span nearly two and a half centuries. The author has also synthesized a large amount of information from cultural, intellectual and social history. Divisions that tend to exist among religious group such as the one witnessed in France between Protestants and Catholics are often perceived as reflections of social stratification. In the recent past, American religions have begun as reactions to prevailing socio-economic conditions. The author suggests that as these denominations grew in size and social acceptability their success finally conferred respectability upon practices initially believed to be eccentric or weird. The beginning of the 19th Century saw the US experiencing a wave of religious convulsions where majority of individuals begun using religion to define themselves. In the course of American history individuals put cultural or physical distance between themselves and others thus creating a segmented society where religion was used to demonstrate distinctiveness. Churches provided society with rites of passage that enabled people to cope with difficulties that rose from adolescence, death, birth and marriage. A French observer by the name Alexis de Tocqueville noted that religion was the most important American institution as it provided cohesion for this particular society cloaking with legitimate national objectives and interests. Religious experience is central to American life and relates to all aspects of life thus viewed as a cultural stabilizer. Swift (1998) also notes that knowledge of the cultural and social history of American religion plays a key role in facilitating understanding of the complexities called the American people and American culture. Religious concerns as well as a global view founded in religious ideas contributed to the coming of the American Revolution. Hostilities and disagreements between religious groups such as those witnessed in France often reflect key societal changes as well as divisions. However, in America immigrants who had not practiced their religions in the old nation often became religious in the country as the church protected them from hostile nativists and embraced their cultural differences. The author also points out to the fact that some people were nonbelievers and wanted to keep the church in their community. This is because they perceived it as a stabilizing factor especially in times of change. The church was considered a safe haven where some individuals responded to social transformations by becoming ‘come-outers’ who joined new or relatively new churches. Religious principles came to underpin the perfervid arguments of abolitionists bringing about social reform movements which served as the foundation of subsequent reform efforts.