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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Religion and the Whole Human Experience

luncheon colloquium

jmw turner sun setting over a lake

Nancy T. Ammerman
Boston University

Date: Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Time: 12 - 1:15pm
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Road

RSVP required. Click here to register

Social scientists and commentators are fond of pointing to signs that religion is declining or disappearing, citing everything from membership losses to fewer people who believe in a literal hell and the number of church buildings that are empty. But what if those aren’t the right measures? Scholars have increasingly been answering that question by pointing to ”lived religion.” Religion as lived encompasses all the ways we experience life – through our bodies, emotions, and aesthetic sensibility, by making things and telling stories that remind us of the sacred, and by finding a moral center to live by. All those things happen inside churches and synagogues and mosques, but they also happen in everyday life. They can be very personal, but they are also shaped by communities and traditions.

headshot of ammerman

Nancy T. Ammerman joined Boston University's School of Theology faculty in 2003 as professor of sociology of religion, after having previously taught at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology (1984-95) and at Hartford Seminary’s Hartford Institute for Religion Research (1995-2003).  Since coming to Boston University, she has also served the College of Arts and Sciences as associate dean of the faculty for the social sciences (2015-18), as chair of the department of sociology (2007-13), and director of the graduate division of religious studies (2014-15). This spring marked her last semester of teaching before retirement.

Ammerman’s earliest work explored grassroots Fundamentalists and analyzed the organizational architecture of the 1980s conservative takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. Her most recent research has focused on everyday lived religion across a wide religious and geographic spectrum, including working with Grace Davie (University of Exeter) to coordinate an international team of scholars to assess “Religions and Social Progress” for the International Panel on Social Progress.


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On February 24,2019, Derek Thompson published an article in The Atlantic titled “Workism Is Making Americans Miserable”, where he argues that one’s identity today revolves around one’s professional career and not one’s religious community. On April 10th, the Boisi Center will host Nancy Ammerman for a luncheon colloquium, where she will provide a discussion on people’s ties to religion today, less through traditional markers such as church attendance, and increasingly through “lived religion."