It is very clear to me (both when I was a Christian and now), how the religiosity of two Christians can be very different from each other, even when they confess the same theology. This applies to any religion, of course. This is because people knit together their packages of religion very differently. See my posts on Religion as Moral Signalling and as Entertainment.
Here are just some of the varieties of Religiosity:
- Good Citizen Religiosity: For some, the moral signaling is important (“I am a good person. I am an upstanding community member. I am a team player.”),
- Fearful Religiosity: for some, putting off the fear of death and meaninglessness may be more important,
- Prosperity Religiosity: for some, the desire for safety and prosperity (using the magic of prayer and belief) may be central.
- Happy Religiosity: for some, the warm fuzzy feelings they get talking to their God, singing in choir, celebrating holidays with family or community activities.
Below I illustrate these four types, for instance, but you can imagine many more examples. The larger traits at the top are those that have the greatest influence in that person’s religious life (inner and outer). This illustrates how the abstract package called “Religion” comes in many different combinations:
- When trying to understand a religious person (or yourself), you have to understand the various functions that “religion” serves in their life.
- Do not assume religion to merely be a set of beliefs — it functions at a much deeper level.
- Most people hold their theology lightly (though they may confess otherwise) and their theology is almost always subservient to these deeper functions.
- Reification: Packaging Abstractions: “Religion” is not the only example of this phenomena
- The Limit of Abstractions: a index post