Christian Smith is the Notre Dame sociologist who identified the religion of America’s youth as Moralistic Therapeutic Deismand who exposed the bias in the field of sociology. Now he attempts to put the field of the sociology of religion on a more rigorous basis in his new book Religion: What It Is, Why It Works, and Why It Matters.
The book includes many provocative insights, which we might go into later, but I’d like to concentrate first on the question of definition. What is religion, anyway? A field needs to define its subject matter before it can get very far in investigating it, but the sociology of religion has had problems with this.