Peter W. Williams

Popular Religion in America:
Symbolic Change and the Modernization Process in Historical Perspective

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1980

         [9]Religion, then, may be tentatively defined as a system of symbolic beliefs and actions—myths, rituals, and creeds and their supporting social structurew—which provides its adherents with a coherent interpretation of their universe.  Religion is a process of cosmos-construction: it creates order out of chaos, and informs its constituency with a sense of meaning, purpose and significance that would otherwise be lacking.  Religion creates order, an order which, ideally, is exhaustive and personally satisfying.

         Religion is, moreover, a social phenomenon.


[Submitted by James A. Santucci]