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In the Course of a LifetimeTracing Religious Belief, Practice, and Change$
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Michele Dillon and Paul Wink

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780520249004

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520249004.001.0001

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The Vibrancy of American Religion

The Vibrancy of American Religion

(p.1) 1 The Vibrancy of American Religion
In the Course of a Lifetime

Michele Dillon

Paul Wink

University of California Press

This chapter presents several studies of individuals to highlight the vibrant role religion played in America. The emphasis is given on two individuals: Jane Bell, and Barbara—whose life illuminates the strong social presence of religion in America and its vibrancy in anchoring individuals and families over time as they encounter their life course and cultural change. It presents a narrative of American religion that is captured in the study's longitudinal data, gathered from Barbara and close to 200 other women and men in interviews from adolescence through to late adulthood. Although there are differences between Barbara and Jane, both illustrate a critical dynamic of American religion. The studies indicate that Americans are pragmatic in deciding whether and how to be religious. This chapter also provides an overview of the study, the purpose of which is to document the dynamic intertwining of religion with everyday life over time.

Keywords:   religious belief, cultural change, American religion, adolescence, late adulthood

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