Tuesday, June 07, 2011

It's all good

Meredith McGuire notes that the five vignettes with which she opened her discussion of "Embodied Practices for Healing and Wholeness" show a variety of ways people understand their religious eclecticism.

How do people whose lived religion includes holistic healing understand their eclectic and blended practices? People's narratives draw on certain values of their culture or cultural subgroup to frame their stories of their experiences and actions. ... Most ... used a language of personal choice to describe how they came to adopt various specific healing practices; however, they used slightly varying terms of discourse, with important differences in implications about their motives and meanings. Evangelical Christian 'Rosalie' spoke of the personal decision for Christ. Dominican American 'Dolores' used the language of continuity and remembering ancient wisdom rather a language emphasizing individual choice. (Lived Religion, 146)

Other respondents in our study were ... consciously eclectic in how they chose, combined, and creatively expanded their personal practices for health and healing. Interestingly, though, many of these interviewees' narratives of their own experiences did not use terms that emphasized choice ... They used language that highlighted one (or more) of four main themes ...: pragmatic experimentation, creativity, journey or process of development, and caring. (147)

This is very interesting, but what can one do with it? 'Rosalie' and 'Dolores' (along with 'Marge', 'Deirdre' and 'Hannah') aren't real people but composites of research findings, in some cases McGuire's research from the 1980s brought up to date by others' more recent studies. I guess this is one of the ways sociologists make their discoveries accessible to the statistically tone-deaf, but is the only alternative to the statistical the anecdotal?

No comments: