Sacred Stories, Spiritual Tribes: Finding Religion in Everyday Life

by Nancy Tatom Ammerman. Oxford University Press, 2014.
Large sacred stories

This book by Nancy Ammerman is a well-researched representation of the spiritual life of Americans. It is a unique take on the (perhaps overused) phrase of “being spiritual but not religious.” Ammerman is Professor of Sociology of Religion at Boston University. She has studied narratives from 95 men and women, representing a variety backgrounds. The narratives provide glimpses into the way those interviewed relate faith to everyday life. A primary assertion based on the study is that an either-or distinction between the spiritual and religious does not capture the depth of human experience. As a result, Ammerman tracks four primary categories of religious experience: the theistic, the extra-theistic, ethical spirituality, and belief and belonging. Read this book for a well-researched alternative to surface descriptions of being spiritual but not religious. Read the book so that you may identify the religious experiences of congregants. Read and understand how to learn from the stories and “tribal” affiliations that you experience every day.