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SOC250Y1 (69)

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Joseph Bryant

April 4, 12 Indications of Secularization - Intern Social Survey Programme (ISSP) and the iWorld Values Survey (WVS) - Religion “low importance” ranking, for Western Europe (1998): - Family (81%), Work (53%), Friends (43%), Leisure (38%), Religion (19%), Politics (8%) - Views on the Bible (1991): - “actual word of G-d”: 55% Poland, 26% Italy, 6% Denmark, 32% USA, 25% Israel, 10% Russia - “inspired but not literal”: 26% Poland, 51% Italy, 17% Denmark, 47% USA, 26% Israel, 16% Russia - What kind of G-d? personal G-d – 36% Western Europe, a spirit or vital force – 34%, there is no G-d – 11% - 1981 European Value Survey: Only 25% affirm there is only one true religion - 53% agree there are value to all religions. - Anxiety of death will not disappear in post industrial societies. Modernity as a Second Axial Age? - Axial Ages = Broad reshaping of the symbolic field, resulting in new understandings of human existence, social life, the cosmos. - First Axial Age: Brahminical Hinduism/Buddhism/Confucianism & Daoism - Jewish monotheism  Christianity and Islam Greek philosophy and Humanism. - Jasper‟s identified four decisive features of Modernity: - 1) Primacy of modern science and technology - 2) Craving for individual freedom and self-cultivation (Romanticism) - 3) The historic emergence of the masses – democracy, nationalism, socialism. – The masses to make history. - 4) Globalization, through the relentless spread of technology driven capitalism. - Modernity‟s cluster of challenges to the First Axial Age Religions: - A focus on this-worldliness, through the wonders of technology, modern medicine. - Through globalization: growing pluralism & relativism - With rising individualism: self-spirituality/humanism [T.Paine: “My mind is my Church”] - Demystification, as science is applied to understanding/explaining faith traditions. - and demythologization: sacred stories of creation lose plausibility, as do accounts of the miraculous and supernatural (=ancient fables, when human beings lacked genuine knowledge of the world around them).-  These broad modernizing developments and trends also call forth what has been called an “internal secularization” within the established religious traditions, as they move to downplay or marginalize those aspects of the faith – sin, guilt, pollution, eternal or protacted hellish torments, sacred commandments, etc. – that lack appeal in current social conditions. [recall Pope JP II and the Anglican Church] New Age Spirituality & New Religious Movements - The dominant structural features and trends of modernity – CAPITALISM, BUREAUCRATIZATION, SCIENCE-TECHNOLOGY, and GLOBALIZATION – have all contributed to altering the place of religion in society, the standing and functioning of religious institutions, and in the nature of religiosity - New Age Spirituality – a loose, umbrella term, conveying practices and beliefs ranging from neo-paganism to psychotherapies – in some ways it can be viewed as a continuation/modernization of age-old occult (i.e., the „concealed‟ or „hidden‟) and metaphysical forms of religiosity: myscicism, mediums, telepathy, gnosis, astrology, etc. - But for a modern age, science and technology are adopted or featured, and individualistic achievements are emphasized – e.g., the “Human Potential” movement that builds on techniques of psychotherapy and doctrines of humanistic psychology, such as Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) and the stages of “self actualization. - The Counter-culture of the 1960’s as a major turning point: a youth based popular movement – centered largely in the universities - that featured a sweepingly radical critique of the soul-destroying pathologies of modernity… against the ESTABLISHMENT of big business and the “rat race” world of white and blue collar employment  “drop out and turn on”, drugs as liberation, psychedelic music. - Authoritarian government, authoritarian religion  anarchism, communes, cultivating the “inner you” - War and racism  “make love, not war” peace and the brotherhood of man. - Bourgeois/middle class values and the patriarchal family  sexual revolution - But, overall, the Establishment holds!  conservative backlash, the „silent majority‟ - Bellah and other sociologists argue the NRMs are “successor movements” to 60s radicalism: “from slogan chanting to mantra chanting” Yuppies replace Hippies.- A social revolution fails  a redirection of energies and interests towards an inner or personal revolution, finding peace and bliss within - The “Baby Boomers” fine rules to live by and enlightened, caring authorities they respect in the NRMs – NRMs function as “surrogate families,” especially during the difficult transition fro youth from the domestic sphere to the impersonal public sphere. – Prime candidates to join NRMs - NRMs offer a holistic sense of selfhood, identity, against the fragmented identities promoted by the highly differentiated institutions of modernity. - The language of discovering your true self and the divine within resonates with this educated Boomer generation, and strikes an anti-authoritarian chord – you yourself will judge. - Neo-Oriental – Bringing wisdom from Asia and bring them to the West – hidden wisdom from the East. - Once you find these deep truths, you will then be free from false desires and worldly problems – finding inner-peace. - Transcendental meditation - People who are drawn to these cults tend to be from the upper middle class, youth and middle aged,
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