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The Restructuring of American Religious Traditions

The Restructuring of American Religious Traditions

(p.1) Chapter 1 The Restructuring of American Religious Traditions
The Megachurch and the Mainline
University of Chicago Press

Ordinations and installations of pastors are extraordinary rituals in the life of a congregation. They are moments when the foundational beliefs, distinctive theological worldviews, and the most important elements of a community's religious culture are displayed. This book is an ethnographic study of congregations in nine Lutheran churches in the San Francisco Bay Area. It explores how and why a particular religious tradition is changed, about how and why the logic and practices of evangelical religion, seeker spirituality, and the utilitarian, consumerist ethos of American society press upon and ultimately lead congregations to alter their received traditions. As such, it supplies a piece of the whole picture that is missing from sociological accounts of the restructuring of Protestantism within the United States. This book offers a new way of understanding the process and outcomes of religious restructuring at the outset of the new century. It is also about the more general process of religious and cultural change. Finally, this book is about the relationships among religious tradition, community, and moral authority.

Keywords:   congregations, Lutheran churches, San Francisco Bay Area, Protestantism, religious restructuring, religious tradition, community, moral authority, seeker spirituality, cultural change

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