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Post offer a deeper and more nuanced study of religion and benevolence, finding that it is the experience of God as loving that activates religious networks and moves people to do good for others. This sociological investigation into lived spiritual experiences, via surveys and interviews, focuses on how feeling divine love affects an individual's engagement in charity and community service.
Building off previous findings of a correlation between religiosity and community benevolence, the authors find through their survey data that believing in God's love is the single best predictor of community benevolence. The book supplements dry survey data and analysis with interviews; having chosen prominent figures they consider to be prime examples of community benevolence, the authors recount detailed interviews that focus on their subjects' spiritual backgrounds, "born again" moments, and the service they've performed.
The book also broadens its scope by examining prayer experiences, Pentecostalism, and a general typology for the benevolent, classified by types of spirituality and types of benevolence. This relentless commitment to others comes from experiencing the love of God, the authors say. After the experience, the individuals want to share that love and benevolence, even if there is a cost.
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They see what they do as part of God's plan and are able to persevere, despite setbacks and significant suffering, in their attempt to realize this plan. For more information about the book and to purchase it, go to Heart of Religion online. Story by Anna Tultz.
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