The American Religion: consumerism
"An anthropological approach to religion involves seeing how symbols, myths, rituals, ethics, and experiences of 'the sacred' operate within, and are produced by, society". It is my argument that through the study of religion and symbolism the one religion, which is prominent in the US more than any other, is Consumerism.
Defining what constitutes a religion is a difficult, if not an impossible quest. However, before determining whether or not certain belief-systems and/or ritualized practices can be considered a religion, a definition is imperative. Bowie offers many different definitions of religion.
~ Melford Spiro defined religion as "an institution consisting of culturally patterned interaction with culturally postulated superhuman beings"
~ Horton has a definition which is "an extension of the field of people's social relationships beyond the confines of purely human society," in which human beings see themselves as being in a dependent relationship vis-Ã -vis their "non-human alters".
~ Ninian Smart has provided dimensions used to define religion. These dimensions are; 1. Ritual or practical 2. Doctrinal or philosophical 3. Mythic or narrative 4. Experiential or emotional 5. Ethical or Legal. 6. Organizational or Social 7. Material or artistic 8. Political and economic.
~ For Tylor, "religion is an attempt by human beings to make sense of their experiences and of the world in which they live" .
~ Geertz' definition says the following, "A system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic"
What these definitions clearly state is that religion is complex and hard to define exactly. As Americans we have grown up in an ideal of freedom of religion...