Religion plays important role in life of people. Even though, there are people who do not have faith in God, they still continue believing in something. Moreover, there is an opinion that most of the religions are alike because they have basic similarities in beliefs.
This is not true. Each religion, each church has many differences and one of the main purposes of sociology in religion is to consider those differences with specific peculiarity, all the beliefs are considered as true ones. It is impossible to refer to scientific methods without being sure that the true aspects are explored. At the same time, the main issue of religion is faith which cannot be scientifically proven.
To make sure that the sociology of religion is scientifically grounded, the beliefs of different churches and confessions are considered as true issues. Thus, the sociology of religion is able to apply various concepts and theories to the problems. However, there is no specific system in interpreting the approaches to the religions. The main idea of our discussion is to consider the Divine Life Church from different angles, apply various theories and consider some sociological concepts in relation to this community.
Specific division of religion organizations exists in the modern world, such as churches, cults and sects. The difference between them is slight, however it exists. Therefore, church is a body for those who have particular faith. Sect is defined as a small group of believers who pursue similar beliefs of a dominant religion, however, some specific novel concepts are noticed.
Cult is something similar to the sect in the relation to the religious patterns, but cults are not referred to dominant religions (Johnstone 78). Using the definitions considered in Johnstone the Divine Life is a church as it is open for all and serves its parishioner, giving them particular faith, similar to the dominant religion, without specific newly adopted concepts.
The Divine Life Church is opened for both men and women, therefore, there are no specific roles concerning women, either at home or in church. All people are considered as equal, and according to the church principles “recognizing the divinity in all beings, Swami has opened the order to both men and women, married and unmarried; its purpose is to inspire the life of spiritual ministry” (Divine Life Church of Baltimore n.p.)
The Divine Life Church has a Sunday school which invites all children from infancy up to 12 years old to visit its classes. The lessons at this school deliver the philosophical message the Church wants children to know. However, the lessons are held is absolutely different from ordinary schools manner.
Thus, children are encouraged to play games, experiment with different things, draw or perform other art tasks, play in drama, introduce their music skills, participate in gardening, and allow “the divinity of each child to unfold in an atmosphere of unconditional love” (Divine Life Church of Baltimore n.p.)
Considering my personal choice of the religious ideas and values in the Divine Life Church on the basis of the rational choice theory, it is important to check the meaning of the theory and the ways it should be implemented. Therefore, according to Hamilton the rational choice theory is considered in different ways.
Checking the meaning of the rational choice theory presented in Hamilton, it may be stated that the theory is usually explained as an organized religion. One more opinion about this theory is that applying it the “religious participation is increased by religious pluralism and decreased by religious monopoly” (Hamilton 191). Thus, it may be concluded that basing on this theory the participation of the religiosity is measured by means of participation in the church affairs.
Considering the Divine Life Church and applying the rational choice theory to it, we may conclude that it is properly organized and pluralized. We mean that honoring all paths to God, the Divine Life Church follows the principles and canons of various religious teachings, such as Buddhism, Judaism, Jesus, Hinduism, Taoism, etc. The main idea of the Divine Life Church community is to unite these confessions, but also show that hey all are unique (Divine Life Church of Baltimore n.p.).
I visited the Divine Life Church Sunday morning service which was opened to everyone. The main elements of that service were as follows, a short silent group meditation which included universal prayers and an inevitable attribute of any meditation, a hymn. A hymn was sang without incidental music. Singing a hymn seems to be the main tradition for those who attended Sunday services as nothing particular happened.
The next stage of the services the lecture of spiritual founder and preceptor of the Divine Life Church, Swami Shankarananda who dwelt upon a universal spiritual theme, as for me, stressing on the necessity to live in accordance with the God’s rules, fair principles, with great faith and nurturing world brotherhood. The service began at 11 am (the doors to the church were opened from 10.30 am) and lasted for 3 hours.
Paying attention to people who was in the church, I can say that nothing particular was noticed. There were simple people of the middle class of age between 35 and 70. These people wore simple closes, everyday haircuts. I did not notice luxury jewelry or expensive cars. I noticed that the service was recorded. While talking to people, Swami Shankarananda used a microphone to make sure that everyone hears him.
The lecture Swami held was perfectly trained and presented. Some parts were stressed, the since between the ideas made people think over the expressed opinion. Moreover, Swami joked and laughed to make sure that people enjoyed his lecture. The lecture was inspiring as having left it I wanted to help people, to make sure that I live in accordance with God rules. During the lecture Swami Shankarananda was alone and it seemed that he did not require any help. It was a great moments, as it showed the self-sufficiency of the preceptor.
In conclusion, it should be stated that I liked the general atmosphere of the service, people were kind and pleasant. At the same time, the whole service reminded a perfectly acted drama where the main character performs a monologue. There was no discussion, the audience was not involved in the communication.
The main idea of the lecture was interesting, however if the audience was involved, people would be able to express their concerns and get an appropriate advice. The problem of God rules and world brotherhood may be discussed perpetually and the ability to participate in the discussion might explain some specific issues.
Divine Life Church of Baltimore, n.d. Web. 6 Oct. 2011.
Johnstone, Ronald L. Religion in society: a sociology of religion. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2006. Print.
Hamilton, Malcolm B. The sociology of religion: theoretical and comparative perspectives. Oxford: Routledge, 2001. Print.