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In the Course of a Lifetime

Tracing Religious Belief, Practice, and Change

Michele Dillon (Author), Paul Wink (Author)


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In the Course of a Lifetime provides an unprecedented portrait of the dynamic role religion plays in the everyday experiences of Americans over the course of their lives. The book draws from a unique sixty-year-long study of close to two hundred mostly Protestant and Catholic men and women who were born in the 1920s and interviewed in adolescence, and again in the 1950s, 1970s, 1980s, and late 1990s. Woven throughout with rich, intimate life stories, the book presents and analyzes a wide range of data from this study on the participants' religious and spiritual journeys. A testament to the vibrancy of religion in the United States, In the Course of a Lifetime provides an illuminating and sometimes surprising perspective on how individual lives have intersected with cultural change throughout the decades of the twentieth century.
List of Illustrations

1. The Vibrancy of American Religion
2. Meet the Parents: The Family Context Shaping Religious Socialization in the 1930s and 1940s
3. Adolescent Religion in the 1930s and 1940s
4. The Imprint of Individual Autonomy on Everyday Religion in the 1950s
5. The Ebb and Flow of Religiousness across the Life Course
6. Individual Transformation in Religious Commitment and Meaning
7. Spiritual Seeking
8. The Activities, Personality, and Social Attitudes of Religious and Spiritual Individuals in Late Adulthood
9. Spiritual Seeking, Therapeutic Culture, and Concern for Others
10. The Buffering Role of Religion in Late Adulthood
11. American Lived Religion

Methodological Appendix: Measuring Religiousness and Spiritual Seeking in the IHD Longitudinal Study
Michele Dillon, Professor of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire, is author of Catholic Identity: Balancing Reason, Faith and Power and Debating Divorce: Moral Conflict in Ireland. She edited Handbook of the Sociology of Religion. Paul Wink, Professor of Psychology at Wellesley College, has written extensively on adult development and is coeditor, with J. James, of The Crown of Life: Dynamics of the Early Post-Retirement Period.
“One can envision it inspiring a range of future research in either field, while at the same time encouraging a triangulation of methods and disciplines which can only improve our understanding of American religion. Dillon and Wink’s work is highly recommended reading.”—Matthew Loveland Catholic Studies: An On-Line Journal
“It is a fine scholarly achievement, well presented, and invaluable.”—David Voas Journal American Academy Of Religion/ Jaar
"Dillon and Wink bring their combination of sociological and psychological perspectives to this landmark study, making possible a fascinating series of individual portraits—and a fresh new window on how life and faith have changed over the last century."—Nancy T. Ammerman, author of Pillars of Faith: American Congregations and their Partners, Building Traditions, Building Communities

"The rich findings in this landmark volume challenge many assumptions about religion and the life course while documenting the multiple ways, both direct and subtle, that faith relates to personality, social attitudes, community involvement, psychological well-being, and health. This is social science at its best - empirically rigorous and theoretically sophisticated for sure, but also deeply humane in its ability to convey so clearly the individual voices of the research participants, as they struggle to make sense of their lives in a rapidly changing world."—Dan P. McAdams, author of The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live By

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