Re: Religious Variation [Was " Biological = trivial?"]

mike shupp (ms44278@HUEY.CSUN.EDU)
Fri, 2 Aug 1996 22:53:27 -0700

On Wed, 31 Jul 1996, John McCreery wrote:

> "Living faith" is tricky stuff. Shall we exclude Chinese who seem to live
> by Confucius' advice to perform ceremonies but keep spirits as a distance,
> or Japanese who turn out with enthusiasm for shrine visits on New Year's
> Eve but, leaving aside funerals, weddings, and tours of historic sites,
> never set foot in religious structures otherwise, or mainline Protestants
> who practice religion on Sunday but leave it behind when "business is
> business."

I would. This sort of pretended religiosity is what our Victorian
predecessors called a "survival"-- a cultural relic, a habit of
behavior which no longer fulfilled some former function. It is
of course part of our culture, but it's about as "meaningful"
as the ties and white shirts that salesclerks, bank tellers, and
other people in menial trades wear to advertise their genteel
social and occupational status.

> The "living faith" you illustrate is a good example of a variation that
> will have to be taken into account. As a starting point it would, it seems
> to me, leave out too much to be a useful prototype. But, then, all you've
> got to do to make me change my mind is use it in a theory that explains
> more variation than the rough sociological notions I've tossed out here.
> When I fancy myself a scientist, I do not cling to theories (please pardon
> the expression) religiously.

It left it out much, indeed. Kahn, after all, was talking about
the overall social environment. The remark about his grandfather
was merely an illustration of his thesis. From his remarks, it
seems that the grandfather's faith had made him a durable, enduring
type who didn't think "happiness" was the purpose of life. He
came through to me as a survivor.

(This deserves more of an answer, but they're about to shut down
the computer labs for the night. Maybe more tomorrow...)

Mike Shupp
California State University, Northridge