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What are the 2 forces from history that Portier argues have shaped the cultural ideals in the U.S.?

You only need to read the first half of the pdf for Tuesday (pages 46-54). We’ll read the rest for Thursday. You’re already familiar with the author of this chapter, so we can move to the questions. The goal of this reading is to get you to think about the way the modern U.S. context shapes our perception of religious traditions. For those of you who grew up here in the U.S., this may help you understand things about your own understanding of religion. For those of you from other contexts, this will help you better understand why people in the U.S. think about religion the ways they do.

1. What are the 2 forces from history that Portier argues have shaped the cultural ideals in the U.S.? Write 1 good sentence about each force IN YOUR OWN WORDS.

2. Portier explains that one of those two forces has become more influential than the other. He names it “modernity” and says that it has influenced how we perceive “religion”. IN YOUR OWN WORDS try to explain how modernity has changed our approach to religious traditions.

3. Portier says that modernity has turned religious traditions into voluntary associations in the U.S. (in other words, groups that we get to choose between freely). He says that this transformation has had 3 key effects. IN YOUR OWN WORDS, write 1 sentence about each of the 3 (hint: look at pages 49-51).

4. Finally, read the section titled “Defining Religion” closely. Like Prothero did with Huston Smith, Portier is arguing against the views of other scholars in this section. So, write 1-2 sentences describing the view that Portier is criticizing (arguing against). Then, write 1-2 sentences about why the term “worship” is important according to Portier.


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