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Religion and Globalization

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Courtney Bruntz

on 22 April 2015

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Transcript of Religion and Globalization

Industrialism, Modernity, and Globalization: Cultural and Societal Dimensions Influencing Religion and New Religious Movements
1. Modernization
What This Means for Religious Institutions
Democratized forms of religious culture
An elected synod
Separation of finance from religious office
Equal opportunities (maybe) for both sexes

Institution acts in same way as a secular one.

2. Modern Culture Influences Religion by
De-personalizing it.
Meaning: religious ideas are pushed into the realm of the "rational" based on
doctrine, principles, and texts.
3. Most people are not religious because of first principles, but rather because of a symbolic system that creates identity and meaning for themselves and their community.
6. Conquest and Colonialism almost always associated with Religious Expansion and Conflict.
4. This gives rise to "popular" religious currents.
Question for comprehension:

What are the differences between
popular religion and institutional religion?
5. Within popular religious currents, charismatic leaders arise. Some are folded back into the larger tradition (i.e., Nadia Bolz-Weber); others branch off and construct a NRM.
7. In globalization, all frontiers (political, economic, cultural, religious) are breached.
Meaning: the development of globally integrated
networks involves sharing of political, economic,
cultural, and religious ideas.
Explain your NRM as a group of people constructing and representing a New Religious Frontier.

What ideas from modern global culture do they accept, what ideas do they reject?
10. Thus, NRMs, break through frontiers, setting up markers of identity, barriers regarding practice, and visions of tolerance and inclusive (or exclusivity).
8. Globalization does NOT result in homogenization; instead, it encourages localization.

Globalization does not mold all cultures together.

Why not?

What does this mean in regard to religions?

9. Religious groups, in globalized societies, are forced to choose what ideas, practices, codes of ethics, etc. they will adopt. As well as which ones they will reject.

This again, results in NRMs.
The use of rational, impersonal criteria to decide, allocate, and evaluate decisions.

Secularization is the application of this in the religious field.
Example: Evangelical Lutheran Church
of America
This encourages "rational" belief
What charismatic figures lead your NRM?
1893: First Parliament of the World's Religions - Chicago
Hinduism and Buddhism introduced to the West.
Hinduism from Vivekananda; Buddhism from Shaku Soen & DT Suzuki
Some Major Issues:
Gay Marriage
Climate Change (environmentalism)
Obligation to the Poor
Health Care
National Security
Globalization: Term begins in the 50s, but refers to spreading of
ideas; international integration - especially through economic and communication networks.

Impact of International Trade on Cultures?
Globalization Produces Unifying Forces
Meaning 1: on an International Scale: similar socio-political structuring, and subsequent ideals, unifies nations.

Example: Industrialized Democratic Nation-states
Meaning 2: within the above social structures, ideas spread through globalized networks of exchange unify persons under similar ideals.
Example I: Acceptance of Rational Thought by Religious Institutions
Example II: Acceptance of Empirical Science OVER Religious Beliefs
Globalization ALSO Produces Divisive Forces
Meaning 1: on an International Scale: socio-political structuring, and subsequent ideals, divides nations and communities
Example I: US and Soviet Union - i.e., the Cold War
Example II: Allied Nations vs. Nazis (WWII)
Meaning 2: within socio-political structures, disseminated ideals divide communities.
Example: Religious Fundamentalism as a Response to Modernity
Modernity in the WEST

19th Century: Result of the Renaissance and Enlightenment

Using reason to explain reality - replaces religious-based world view from Middle Ages
Facets of Modernity:
1. Empirical-scientific method
2. Industrialized nation-states
3. Freedom of religious expression and religious pluralism

Religion and Responses to Modernity:
1. Total Rejection of All Religious Belief (ex. science all the way)
2. Self understanding and growth through, and by adapting perspectives of, modernity (ex. Vatican II)
3. Rejection of some aspects of modernity, acceptance of others (may like individualism, dislike religious pluralism and/or science)
4. Views modern thought or people who ACCEPT modern thought as evil
5. Fundamentalism - turning to religion for guidance in ALL aspects of life
Activity: Explain your NRM as a Product of Modernity
Under Durkheim: We are ALL affected by modernity (or postmodernism): its new ways of thinking about the subjects of society, economics and political thinking - esp. individualism
Under Weber: religious beliefs give rise to movements within socio-cultural structures - how religions respond to modernity, then, helps explain/understand that religious tradition.
Jehovah's Witness
Westboro Baptist
Nation of Islam
Soka Gakkai

Published in 1950: Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (L. Ron Hubbard). In it: the discovery of the reactive mind - hidden source of nightmares, unreasonable fears, upsets and insecurity.

"Client Cult"
"Nichiren Buddhism grounded
in the realities of everyday life"
1930s Lay Buddhist Movement - begins out of educational reform:

Every individual should have freedom to lifelong education of wisdom, self-awareness, and development.
Form of "engaged" Buddhism - wisdom and compassion
will help you overcome all of life's challenges
1930s: Represents a
Response of Turning in on itself -

Religion demarcates all aspects of life.

Question is: what is the tradition?
The Báb: (1819-1850): mission was to prepare the way for the coming of a second Messenger from God.
Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892): Promised One foretold by the Báb and all of the Divine Messengers of the past. Bahá’u’lláh delivered a new Revelation from God to humanity. He outlined a framework for the development of a global civilization which takes into account both the spiritual and material dimensions of human life.
Product of Modernity: Individualism
The Nature of Western Individuality: Western Societal View of Human Identity:

1. The uniqueness of the individual represents his or her essential reality.
2. Individuals are or ought to be free.
3. Individuals are responsible for their own actions, but only for their own actions.
4. An individual's subjective experience of the world is "real" by definition.
5. Individuals possess certain rights over and against collectives.
6. Individuals are ultimately responsible for creating themselves.

Berger, Peter L. "Western Individuality: Liberation and Loneliness," Partisan Review 52 (1985).
Obvious Product of Modernity:

1. Read Scripture Literally
2. Claim to live as Early Christians did
3. Have turned in on themselves - meaning -
turn to religion (the Bible) as the sole source
of authority (ex. no-political activity)
1930s: Rastas sought to provide a voice for the poor Blacks in Jamaica by encouraging resistance to oppressive societal structures. At the core of their belief is the re-interpretation of the Hebrew Bible with a focus on Blacks as God’s chosen race.
Analysis: Describe this view in relation to modernity.
Early 19th Century as a
"natural" religion.
Connections between Humans and Nature.
Response to cold, rational industrialism of modernity.
From Advaita Vedanta - from Adi Shankara (8th century CE)

Non-dualistic philosophy: there is one Supreme Being (Brahman), and we are
each part of this Supreme Being.
Begins in the 1950s w/ Fred Phelps; Is known for its Hate Speech
What Initiated Phelps' Decision to move to Topeka, KS?
Brown vs. Board of Education that overturned Plessy and Ferguson
19th Century; Japan: blend of Monotheism and Shinto
On October 26, 1838, upon the arrival of the preordained time in accord with the will of God the Parent, Oyasama (or Beloved Parent) became the living Shrine at the age of 41 and revealed God the Parent's will for the first time in order to save the people of the world.
Often NRMs, both in the East and the West, are thought of as a product of modernity and people’s attempts at realigning their faiths to the changing realities of the new world.
How does your NRM represent a product of modernity?

In what regards specifically?
Purpose: Reach a state known as a "joyous life."
Organizational structures spread into all aspects of society: institutions of large churches, schools, museums, hospitals, universities
United States: Begin 1960s with a series of break-downs - institutions, shared belief systems

Post-modern activists view it as a reaction to the wholesale failure of modernity.
Post-modernism is anti-structuralism - the abandonment of institutions
Post-modernism is ANOTHER useful way to explain people active
in NRMs today.

Scientology: combines sophisticated technology with very old ideas.
Post-modernism is a rejection of linear narrative, and our central linear narrative is History; Views reality as plural and subjective - reality is dependent on the individual's point of view.
Because of this, Post-modernism creates much conflict.
Post-modernism is at work everywhere:
Contemporary Religious Fundamentalism is Rooted in a Critique of Post-Modernism.
Key Teachings:
*The essential identity of every human being is a rational and immortal soul.
*No conflict b/t religion and science: "science is the first emanation of God toward man"
*No heaven nor hell - soul is progression toward perfection
*Principle of Oneness
Process Theology
Post-modernism and Religious Traditions
Societies Become more Postmodernist because of:
1. Communication technology
2. Consumer society
3. More freedom to create subjective beliefs
4. Religious Plurality present in society
Trends regarding Individuals in Postmodern societies:
Questioning of authority - esp. institutional authority
Ethics and morality are privatized - a matter of personal choice

But: individuals still seek to evaluate themselves and their own worth, to make their lives meaningful

Religious Leaders (including leaders of NRMs) emerge as persons offering guidance for moral living.
With increased mobility and communication, who we turn to is not limited to any particular geographical region. Nor is one's identity based upon local communities.

Consumerism, and consumer culture, means we are free to choose on our own what to do with our time, homes, bodies, and beliefs. Thus people feel they should be able to choose what they believe in.
Does not mean that religion is declining.

Instead: religion has relocated into the sphere
of consumption.

Postmodern societies emphasize CHOICE.

People still seek meaning in their lives - narratives and stories for identity.

IMPOSED narratives are less acceptable to postmodern individuals.
Dedifferentiation: the distinction between different features
in society has become less clear cut -
boundaries are increasingly blurred

Postmodern Individuals
no longer
identify with a single
religion or political party
for life -
instead, we experiment
Media and Communications Furthers
Consumer Culture, Subjectivity, and Individual Choice
What Is Media?
Trends Regarding Religious Choice in Postmodern Societies
Overall: postmodern societies encourage people to select religious beliefs and practices to suit their chosen identities.
1. Decline of Previously Dominant Religions
Institutions with metanarratives are confronted with postmodern thought.
2. Growth of fundamentalism
Viewed as a return to the basics or fundamentals of religion.

Involves literal interpretation of religious texts, and strict moral codes of behavior.

The past is the "golden age" of religion - forms a template for the present.
3. Spread of Religious Organizations offering a "new" way of imagining religious belonging
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