Paul Ryan, as you likely know by now, is from Janesville, WI. Here is Ryan Lizza’s New Yorker profile if you’d like to brush up on Paul’s background. I’m also from Janesville, WI. Ryan grew up just a few blocks from where I lived with my parents, went to the same public high school, and he continues to attend the Catholic parish where I had my first communion and confirmation (yes, despite my previous post, I used to identify as Catholic). Like me, Ryan’s father died when he was a teenager. The parallels of our early lives are striking to me, just like they were to James Zogby as he wrote this column, and to a current Janesville teacher who wrote this excellent blog post.
Many others have pointed out the contradictions in Ryan’s biography and political ideology better (and quicker) than I have here. Still, the personal connection I feel with his story has my sociological imagination running wild.
A few days ago I was having a conversation with an acquaintance who asked the following question: “What’s your view on religion?” As a sociologist of religion, I was a little bit flummoxed. I’ve got a lot of views! But, she meant, ‘what’s your religion.’ I came out as an atheist, something I’ve done before. Her response, “Oh, I was hoping for at least agnostic.”
Yesterday I was reading Female Science Professor’s essay over at The Chronicle about mico-inequalities. In this case it was micro-sexism. In my case, it was micro-faithism? I’m sure there is a better term that I should know. Anyway, religion is privileged in daily life too; in my life mostly Christianity. I, of course, got a little perturbed by ‘at least,’ and in this case I said so because it fit the conversation we were having. Usually, however, I let the little things pass. But, as Female Science Professor said so well, they do add up.