Various Religiousity

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:

Functions of Religion many people Conclusions:

  • 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.

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Filed under Philosophy & Religion

8 responses to “Various Religiousity

  1. Temaskian

    Amazingly elucidating, as always.

  2. @ Temaskian: Thanks

  3. I love your graphic, but I notice that the top two boxes do not include the trait of “behavior control”. Was that intentional? I’d think that would factor highly in Good Citizen and Fearful religiosity. For some preachers, you’d think behavior control was the only factor that they preached about!

  4. Oh you are absolutely right, ubi, if I’d had made a believer who was that sort of preacher, I would have added that. Instead, I was thinking that those believers were BEING controlled, and not CONTROLLING. Thus the controlling model is not a function it serves for them. But, lots of different ways of doing it are possible, that was just my thought then.

  5. CRL

    Nice graphics!

    A sort I often see (and once fell into) would be disinterested religiosity. So they may check a box as Christian (or something else) if asked, but wouldn’t put any of your little clouds towards the top.

  6. @CRL,
    I like your category of “disinterested religiosity” or “minimal religiosity”. But why are they religious? What function(s) does being religious, albeit minimally, serve them?

  7. CRL

    I’ve always wondered that myself! Inertia, I guess.

  8. Good graphics, I agree, but not complete. Under which category should I place the persons who, being religious, are prepared to kill those who doesn’t agree with them or kill because (their particular) god told them so?

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