Touching the Transcendent: Rethinking Religious Experience in the Sociological Study of Religion
This chapter reintroduces religious experience as a key theme and trope within contemporary religion. Taking a woman’s gripping out-of-body experience (during which she meets Jesus) as a starting point, it asks why recent sociological studies on the whole pay so little attention to individual religious experience. This is a curious omission given the recent attention to religion’s lived expression, not to mention the central role of experience within contemporary spirituality movements. Answering these questions call to attention several unresolved questions in the sociology of religion about the position and validity of religious experience, as well as about the ways that particularistic theologies shape sociological concepts of religion. This chapter calls for renewed attention to the study of experience, now and in the past, to better understand the full complexity of religion in contemporary lives.
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