by Nancy T. Ammerman
This address is a contribution to the study of “lived religion,” that is, the embodied and enacted forms of spirituality that occur in everyday life. Like the children’s books that ask “where’s Waldo,” sociologists are invited to think about the many ways in which we need to refocus our work in order to see the religion that often appears in unexpected places. As the discipline has broadened its geographical and cultural vision, it also must broaden its understanding of what religion is. Religion is neither an all-or-nothing category nor a phenomenon that is confined to a single institutional sphere. Understanding the multilayered nature of everyday reality and the permeability of all social boundaries makes a more nuanced study of religion possible. Using data from the “Spiritual Narratives in Everyday Life” project, it is suggested that religion can be found in the conversational spaces—both in religious organizations and beyond—where sacred and mundane dimensions of life are produced and negotiated.