Friday, January 27, 2012

Journal Entry #7

So, yesterday for a project for my Political Science 200 class, they asked us to access the database called JSTOR.

Well, it's absolutely gigantic, to say the least. It contains links to journal databases for a huge number of topics, from psychology to archeology. Just for Political Science, it has hundreds of JOURNALS, not just hundreds of articles, and each journal has a particular emphasis within the area of study. I found a journal that deals with religious ethics, and after spending a bit of time going through some of the titles over the past couple of years, I decided it didn't have much to do with my area of study.

It appears that many individuals studying "religion" care a lot about reactions to homosexual behavior, ecofeminism, and unethical decisions made by Augustine a thousand years ago. I can't say that I do. However, for just Religion there are seventy different journals to look through, and there's plenty of places here to rove around. We'll see if there aren't any about religious schools.

Looking around here, it's remarkable how many resources that the Harold B. Lee Library puts at your fingertips. Countless articles that ask you to "verify" or pay to access can simply be accessed by clicking the "Get at BYU!" button. Incredible. There was a summary of doctoral dissertations in the Harvard Theological Review published at the end of 2010. Through BYU I was able to access the full text, and one of these dissertations analyzes the work of a particular multi-faith organization that worked in Massachussetts that helped in the development of the progressive health care program that was created there, and that has gotten a lot of news recently because it was presided over by then Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney, and later became a key model for the creation of Obama's national health care program. Interestingly, the dissertation summary states that "when religious practice engages CBCO democratic practice, it can produce pluralism without reducing difference." I'm assuming that means that this faith based organization was able to organizationally unite people of different faiths without reducing their theological differences. This part is the clincher though: "This case study demonstrates that congregations engaged in civic activity have religious resources to mediate conflict that might be intractable in the political sphere." In other words, faith based organizations can unite communities in ways that politics cannot.

So what if religiosity continues to decrease in a society? Does it weaken the social "glue", so to speak, that holds people and communities together? And how can I possibly measure how "glued together" a society is as a research student in London, England?

In any case, this JSTOR is great place to start studying these questions....even if some of these papers are a little obscure :)

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