Friday, January 18, 2013

Potentially Intersting Book with Misleading Title

I recently read a short Newswise review of a new sociological study of religion that may be of some interest. It may not be particularly fair to judge it by such a short piece but it does seem to be rather misleading when you compare the tile of the new work, Building Strong Church Communities: A Sociological Overview, to the basic description of the research that went into its writing. By title it sounds like it is about religion in general but  Patricia Wittberg used surveys from Catholic parishes. The other flaw is that she did not set out to do a sociological study. Her goal from the start seems to have been to figure out how to strengthen Church communities. It seems to have been intended more as a management/advocacy manual than study.

One of the more interesting aspects that should be studied in a wider context is the apparent effect the internet is having on religious belief of adolescents. Wittberg, of course, see it as being negative that the internet is eroding belief in organized religion. If this turns out to be true (one book doesn't cut it) it is notable but not surprising. A number of sociologists have noticed that the wider a persons knowledge of comparative religion the less likely they are to identify, or identify strongly, with a particular faith.

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