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Meaning and Purpose

Religion offers meaning for the human experience. Some events create a profound sense of loss on both an individual basis (such as injustice, suffering. or the death of a loved OIlC) and a group basis (such as famine. earthquake, economic depression. or subjugation by an enemy). Inequality may cause people 10 wonder why their own situation is no better than it is. Most religions offer explanations for these concerns. Explanations may differ from one religion to another. yet each tells the individual or group that life is part of a larger system of order in the universe (McGuire. 2002). Some (but not all) religions even offer hope of an afterlife for persons who follow the religion's tenets of morality in this life. Such beliefs help make injustices easier to endure. In a stud)' of religious beliefs among Baby Boomers (persons born between 1946 and 1964) in the United States. religion and society scholar Wade Clark Roof (1993) found that a number of people had returned to organized religion as part of a personal quest for meaning. Roof noted that they were looking "for something to believe in. for answers to questions about life:' as reflected in these comments by a woman in North Carolina' Something was You turn around and )'ou go. is this it? I have a nice husband. 1 have a nice house; 1 was just about 10 finish graduate school. 1 knew I was going to have a very marketable degree. I wanted to do it. And you turn and you go, here I am. This is it. And there were just things that were missing. I just didn't have stimulation. I didn't have the motivation. And I guess when you mentioned faith, I guess that's what was gone. (qtd. in Roof, 1993: 158)

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