The article by Jerry Adler suggests the idea that current Americans are more and more interested in searching for personal and ecstatic experiences of God. Americans are involved in finding the religion that empowers them and not the God that only gives orders what to do, people want to experience God in their life. The USA is a very diverse country, so it is obvious that there are a lot of ways to search for spiritual enlightenment. We will try to observe in this paper the main issues that help people in search of spiritual.
According to Steven E. Barkan (2006), there are five agents of socialization and among them are family, schools, peers, mass media and religion. The agents of socialization are the sources from which we learn about the society; they influence our attitudes and behavior. However, we should pay a close attention to the religion as the agent of society. Religion deals with two concepts: religious preference and religiosity. Steven Barkan (2006) distinguishes between these two concepts. The first deals with the religion that a person chooses and the second shows how often the person prays or attends the religious services. According to the article by Jerry Adler, the number of people who go to church is not huge, only 20% of worships attend the services weekly, people do not perceive the church as the only respectable way of social advancement (Adler, 2005). Nowadays, the religion is more a search for the communion with divine. Generally speaking, much more Americans describe themselves as spiritual but not religious. However, two thirds of Americans pray every day and a third of them meditate every day (Adler, 2005). Barkan is sure that people have very strong view on some particular topics thanks to their religion, as the religion affects the values and beliefs on all religious and nonreligious issues. It is actually the culture that sets us values, beliefs and norms of how we should behave in the society. The values define the standards of good and bad, the beauty and desirability that can serve as a guideline for social life. The beliefs are special claims that people hold to be true, these are particular matter in comparison to values that are quite abstract. Norms are certain rules and expectations by which the society guides the behavior of its members. According to these three concepts there are ideal culture and real culture. Ideal culture holds to ideal values and norms that are common in the society. While the real culture works with actual social patterns, with norms and values that people actually follow. The culture also shows the diversity of the society, and how many ways of living may exist (Barkan, 2006). The religion is affected by the culture very much. It is obvious that immigrants bring something new and unfamiliar to American religiosity, as it was done by Christian immigrants who brought some unusual practices and believes. This organized the True Jesus Church that originates from China or Zairean Kimbangu Church. People are always interested in new practices to satisfy their spiritual needs, .For example, there are about 460 thousands subscribers to the Buddhist thought, 268 thousands followers of Daily Muslim Wisdom in the USA. The article explains that during the 1960s the religion was pro-secular culture, but now people are showing their identity by the choice of the religion. Some people in the search of sacred get involved into religious that are more common to other countries. The article also suggests us the idea that Islam, for example, tries to unite all of the believers; that is why the American-born Muslims are spreading the accouterments of a number of countries from which their parents came, as they are determined on forging a purer and much more spiritual religion (Adler, 2005). The next basic concept that should be analyzed is status. Social status is a particular position of the individual in social life. It is the main component that identifies a person and provides a particular interaction. A status might cover all of the statuses that the person holds at a special time, meaning the family, friends, and social circles. And during the life a person gains and loses dozens of different statuses. The status might be ascribed, meaning the one that cannot be change during the life, as for example being the son, or achieved, meaning the one that the person chooses, like being the prayer of special religions preference (Zerihun, 2005). It was mentioned in the article that one of five people who was taking part in the poll change his religion being an adult and as a consequence is that the achieved status is also changed. Other researched issues are manifest and latent functions. According to Peter Bergers manifest function are conscious and intentional functions of the social processes, when the latent functions are unconscious and non-deliberate ones (Berger, 1963). If we analyze the article, we will see that the author shows us that while people are searching for a new religion their manifest function is to actually find a new creed or dogma, to do all of the religious rituals, to attend the church, but the latent function will be to see some transformative experience, to experience the God themselves, to find the God in the heart of those who is looking for him (Adler, 2005). The last issues to be analyzed are the concepts of profane and sacred. According to Durkheim, all of the religions differentiate between the sacred and profane. Sacred things have supernatural significance and qualities, while profane are regarded to be the items of ordinary everyday life. The sacred usually has some extra-ordinary supernatural power; that is why it can be approached only during some ritual, such as prayer. Generally speaking, Durkheim emphasized that religion is never just a matter of belief; it should be supported by some ceremonies or rituals, because only those can help to build the group together (Sociology guide, 2011). A lot of usual everyday things become sacred, if they are used in religious rituals. In his article, J. Adler shows that, for example, Hasidim pray ecstatically, they are supposed to dance with the Torah, it helps them to achieve the higher spiritual state, besides, they also drink wine to gain the same result (Adler, 2005). So we can observe that some routine actions can have absolutely new sense in the process of their usage in religious ceremonies.
Religion as socialization agent helps to set strong believes, however its manifest function is to lead people in looking for sacred, spiritual and transcendental and find their way.