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Religious Practice in the Kitchen

Religious Practice in the Kitchen

(p.62) Chapter Four Religious Practice in the Kitchen
Heaven's Kitchen
University of Chicago Press

This chapter deals primarily with how four volunteers describe their religious agency through stories about themselves and their work at GLWD. Interviews were useful windows into volunteers' personal, civic, political, and religious commitments. Interviews by nature demonstrate limited ability to ascertain “meaning,” even though they can provide some sense of the associations and connections individuals draw on to explain their actions. Analytical understanding of religious experience has in recent years come to reject the essentializing aspects of early phenomenology, which suggest that religion descends (or arises) into mundane lives as the wholly other, and that one is “necessarily” religious at core, in favor of constructivist or relational interpretations. The way volunteers told the story of their religious action in the kitchen invites further analysis of the American distinction between “religious” and “spiritual” things. Viewing religiousness as a conscious act, rather than as a development of the setting itself, appeared to emphasize the variety of their fellow volunteers' religious and spiritual views.

Keywords:   volunteers, religious experience, spiritual, American distinction, interviews

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