Jerry Adler’s article, In Search of the Spiritual, explores the evolution of religion in American society from the dogmatic faith of the 1960’s to the spiritual-based quest for a direct relationship with God that transcends rigid denominational barriers. …
Adler bolsters his stand with statistics from the Newsweek/Beliefnet poll and the concurring opinion of reputed theologians. In Search of the Spiritual: The Move Towards the Personal. Religion is one of the key concepts of Sociology. It impinges on almost all aspects of society, both in the individual and the collective sphere. As it exerts great influence on the individual, the family, minority cultures, and society as a whole, any emerging trends in religion are of great significance to sociologists. In this context, Jerry Adler’s article, In Search of the Spiritual, makes for interesting reading. Adler explores the evolution of religion from the rigid theological dogma of the 1960’s to the individual search for God which marks twenty-first century society. Adler differentiates between religious affiliation and spirituality. Contrary to popular expectations, Americans continue to hold on steadfastly to their faith in God. What has changed over the decades is their expression of this faith, and their expectations regarding religious practice. Adler asserts that the contemporary search for God transcends religion, revolves round spirituality, and emphasizes personal experience. Adler states the search for the divine eclipses religious affiliation....
Changing religion is now common. In the present day scenario, when a plethora of religions, ranging from Pentecostalism to Druidism, is available, the search for a religion which meets personal needs is not difficult. With the contemporary emphasis on individual self-expression, there is a “thirst for transcendence too powerful to be met by just one religion” (Adler, 2005, p 3). Religion, in the traditional sense of a particular creed or denomination, is giving place to an eclectic approach, in which elements of other religions are incorporated to cater to the personal needs of adherents. Spirituality is the focus of present-day religion. There is a revival of the “passion for an immediate, transcendent experience of God” (Adler, 2005, p 1). In every religion, there is an increasing preference for observances which emphasize spirituality: the exuberant praying of Pentecostals, the Catholic adoration of the Eucharist, the Jewish study of mysticism in the Kabbalah, the meditation of Buddhism and the ‘centering prayer’ form of Christian meditation. Even as attendance at traditional religious services declines, “the impulse to seek communion with the Divine, is thriving” (Adler, 2005, p 2). The Newsweek/Beliefnet poll categorically demonstrates this trend, where a larger percentage of Americans describe themselves as “spiritual” (79 percent) than “religious” (64 percent). Meditation and prayer are a part of most American’s daily routine. Knowledge of the tenets of religion, and the study of theology, are not considered as important as rising above the pulls of the material world through the intimate experience of God in one’s own life. The spiritual quest which ...
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