I am launching a new album on Flickr in which I uploaded and will upload all my advertising materials!
I’m looking forward to growing it and improve with each work.
I am launching a new album on Flickr in which I uploaded and will upload all my advertising materials!
I’m looking forward to growing it and improve with each work.
My new way of procrastinating is reading retail companies reviews on websites like indeed, glossador, etc. Now all fun and games but I’m genuinely wondering if the upper management of the reviewed firms actually go through them as well. I mean, seriously, there are quite some useful reviews and that way maybe they’d find the truth about how people feel while working for them. And then if they’d read maybe they’d do something to improve and so people wouldn’t resign so fast or they would actually smile to customers.
“We have entered an age of fear. Insecurity is once again an active ingredient of political life in Western democracies. Insecurity born of terrorism, but also, and more insidiously, fear of the uncontrollable speed of change, fear of the loss of employment, fear of losing ground to others in an increasingly unequal distribution of resources, fear of losing control of the circumstances and routines of our daily life. And, perhaps above all, fear that it is not just we who can no longer shape our lives but that those in authority have also lost control, to forces beyond their reach” – Judt, T. quoted in Cuperus, 2011, taken off Cantle, T, 2011.
Ever wondered what happened to our spiritual sense? Well, the Aberdeen University course of Religion and Culture (SO4058) does make you think about it quite a bit. I’m choosing not to change too much for this work because any strong alteration might alter the meaning and core idea within the explanation. The problem is whether religion became an item on supermarkets shelves. Meaning, do we genuinely consume religion? Did we somehow brand religion and refer to it as we do to Nike, Apple, or Vodafone? Do we choose to believe in some part of a religion because it matches with our values? But what about the people who shape their values on those of the religion they partake to? In a sense, we are now looking at a perfectly arranged chaos, that is our society, thus the following chapters will attempt to show one paradox of religion today.
To begin with, because there is a fairly clear-cut between the social significance of religion, religion as such, the amount of people who take religion seriously, and how seriously everyone takes it (Bruce, 2002: 3), because religion is a sensitive subject and understood in various ways by various people/societies, an attempt to define it for this essay is required. Durkheim (2001: 25) calls it a system of ideas and practices. He argues (2001) that “the Gods also need man; without their offerings and sacrifices, they would die”. Therefore, religion “is the determination of human life by the feeling of a bond uniting the human mind to the mysterious mind…” (Reville, 1881: 34) and it aims to express not what is exceptional, but what is constant and regular (Durkheim, 2001: 30). Thus, religion is an indefinite (supernatural, mysterious, etc.) defining the lives of billions of people. Religion promoted the idea that someone/something is watching and eventually caring for you, but also requires people to behave in an exact standard. It is scheduling people’s lives by giving a course of doctrines and indoctrination of rituals. It also opens a door for misunderstandings when the different beliefs come in contact with each other and this can go to an extent of killing ‘in the name of God’. For example, in Hinduism there is no prohibition on killing, saying that “may be inevitable and necessary” (W. Menski, 2007: 5).
This essay does not intend to reveal the truth of religions, nor their exact history, as there might not even be one. But it is relevant to mention and motivate why this work is written from the perspective that religion is internally sourced (human-made). If we assume that religion is man-made, religious indoctrinations would be sourced within humanity, which only suggests a phenomenon of self-teaching. Although, if the negatives (the wars, the sacrifices at any level, the indoctrination and ignorance, etc.) are taken into consideration, morality is easily questioned. Therefore, religion as man-made is a sensitive topic and as much morality as is taught (to be human/humane), various arguments and violent acts happened because of the same teachings – the issue is the difference in practice and understanding/misunderstanding. If a one and only religion would govern the world, then it could be argued that there is a holy truth, but the multitude of beliefs and differences in ‘requirements’ highly suggests that societies themselves created these systems. If we assume that religion would not be man-made, then it means it is God-made/Gods-made, etc. How would so many Gods (the different religions and mystical ‘beings’) create a single world and if they did, why don’t we all believe in the same multitude, why do we split beliefs so much?
All in all, the following chapters intend to explain what the world we live in looks like, how ourselves as individuals evolved by the affect of consumerism and what is left from the traditional way of religious practices and beliefs.
Harvey (1989: 240-154) argues that in postmodern societies, space was understood as concrete locations: for most individuals the risk because of war at that time was too high, thus people preferred to remain in their fixed locations. Moreover, until the 1850s, the movement of both goods and people was extremely slow, unreliable, and highly expensive, but with the afterwards rapid development of vessels (super-freighters), the exchange became affordable from all perspectives. Therefore, one could argue, globalisation was starting to show right after the mid-twentieth century. A modern nation-state system can also be dated around the 17th Century. That began the political aspect of globalisation. This is highly relevant because it lays the path for consumerism, for a world of trades of any kind (goods, services, and people). But taking a closer look at the societies today, it can be fairly argued that the world is by far homogenous or ruled by a singular standard. The world today is rather a hybridisation of businesses, politics, economies, and culture. The phenomenon that takes place is glocalisation. Roland Robertson (1997) claims that “[glocalisation] means the simultaneity – the co-presence – of both universalising and particularising tendencies”. This raised an interdependence between countries and challenges multiculturalism. Moreover, it spreads rationalisation, that is the process of organising life by instrumental considerations, is what Weber in quoting Schiller calls “the disenchantment of the world” (Bruce, 1996: 181).
Another factor into glocalisation is that communities lost structure through the ease of movement and thus mobility created the “anonymous world of the city” (Bruce, 1996: 182). The concept of Diasporas shall be introduced here as well, “[People] constitute a diaspora if they … come to share a common fate with their own people, wherever they happen to be” (Cohen and Kennedy, 2007: 55), referring to a group of people that ‘come together’ based on their nation, no matter where they moved in the world. This is, by Bauman’s three-steps of modern migration, the current and full flow of gathering, which raises issues within the ‘unbreakable’ bond between identity and nationality, the individual and his/her physical proximity and cultural identity (2011: 35-6). Although Sachs (1992: 102) claims that “[a] global monoculture spreads like an oil slick over the entire planet’”, these groups do not live self-sourcing, they integrate within the welcoming society and slowly become a part of it. “For the first time”, Bauman argues (2011: 36), “the ‘art of living together’ has become an everyday problem”. Thus, Rowe and Schelling’s hybridisation definition is accurate and includes the core of the phenomena: “the ways in which forms become separated from existing practices and recombine with new forms in new practices” (1991: 231).
This century is hosting a world of glocalised, hybrid cultures where individuals are free to choose the traditions they follow by either keeping their nationalities or adopting or mixing them. Because of the given freedom through laws and separations between the churches and states, the same liberty of hybridisation exists within religious beliefs.
The New Age for a hybrid world
More and more people declare themselves Christian but, if asked, have beliefs such as the horoscope or Feng-shui. This gives a connection with the pick’n’mix approach within a spiritual supermarket (Lyon, 2000: 74). Consumerism (religious or otherwise) has become a cognitive and moral focus through systematic management (Lyon, 2000: 79). The constant interaction between individuals of different backgrounds (political views, religious beliefs, behaviour standard) combined with the mass consumption phenomenon that occurs and strengthens on a daily basis, makes possible the creation of hybrid societies. It creates new forms of behaviour standards, much more complex political perspectives and acts (a decision no longer affects that one country), and last but not least complex religious beliefs. Specifically, both the aforementioned anonymous city and rationalisation gave way to the emergence of new religion (Bruce, 1996: 182).
The individuals of today constantly “try on” new experiences (clothes, items, services, beliefs), trying to construct their selves distinct from others, yet seeking approval from the relevant lifestyle and symbolic membership (Lyon, 2000: 79). And that is what new religious movements are designed for. To ‘make us happy’, to support us in fulfilling our human potential, “a sense of well-being has become the end, rather than a by-product of striving after some superior communal end” (Rieff, 1973: 224). A lot of people claim some conventional religious position, but most of them add to it different other elements. For some people, it may be only an entertaining an idea, while for some it can escalate to a new sense of belief in a personalised religion (Bruce, 1996: 201). Therefore, as supposed earlier, beliefs today can be ‘picked up from a supermarket’. The New Age Beliefs and Practices are an important supply for this ‘supermarket’. Fewer and fewer people adopt traditional religions, i.e. fully Christian dogma, therefore most individuals, as argued, make use of the multitude of information and chose to believe what better suits them.
The New Age became popular within the 1980s. It is focused on ‘self-discovery’, ‘spiritual growth’, and ‘enlightenment’, the latter having the meaning of ‘reaching light’ and not the scientific beginning. Its roots are in Buddhism and Hinduism which have recently been Westernised; new agers vocabulary include ‘God’ and ‘Universe’, but ‘cosmic consciousness’ and ‘cosmic mind’ mostly, because when they state ‘God’ they refer to ‘Force’, ‘Energy’, and do not use the biblical sense. The new age exists via media such as newspapers, magazines, CDs (cassettes), and ‘lectures’. Considering, spirituality abandoned the idea of a main Holy Book (such as The Bible, The Koran, or others) and spreads itself around various sources. New-age-spirituality.com (2015) quotes “New Age Spirituality steps in to fulfil the need of something … that the material world alone cannot offer”, but it is sociologically interesting how it survives through beliefs in mostly the supernatural in an era of scientific research and proof. It has become popular in the West even if its roots are in eastern religions because, as the western popularity reached modernity, it commenced to search for ‘ultimate answers about life’. Because the material world looked discouraging after two world wars and the atomic bomb, people looked for faith in the spiritual realm. Moreover, due to the same reason and because the church was rigid, individuals looked for freedom, freedom which was given through the idea that the soul lives more lives, that the spirit is what matters, that there are a thousand possibilities, and no one can be wrong. But this is not the sole ‘attraction’ for the pick’n’mix practitioners, simple living with people of different cultures, thus different beliefs have an impact on an individual’s behaviour. Becoming co-workers of friends with people of various background, individuals come in contact with different perspectives on the world as well and involuntarily think about and perhaps adopt some points of view.
In this times of the 21st Century, it is impossible to argue that ‘doing something’ would be wrong, the society adopted the New Age’s idea of ‘I have my truth you have yours and we can both be right’, but that has a limit when put under analysis. Being so eager to express themselves in such a high consumerist society with so many options, it can be argued that people adopt false pretences and practices.
Aforementioned interactions and attention to how one behaves within a multicultural place make people put a great emphasis on symbolism. Symbolism is all that our consumerist culture is reduced to. What car, is it cheap or expensive, is it sports car or family built? What smartphones one owns? Why that brand of smartphones? The clothes that people wear tell part of their personality as we dress to express (and impress, but impress by expressing ourselves most of the times), etc. All that our society interacts with is a symbol of and for something. It is highly relevant to mention that these symbols are tools to show what an individual is supposed to be within a specific environment. This need and requirement of expression are why symbols in the 21st Century are the core of existence. Brands are creating their identity which then the consumer adopts by purchasing into it. When one wears a brand or drives specific cars, some values are shown, those of the brand. Buying into Volvo (advertised as the safest car) gives a sense of responsibility, a precautious individual. Buying into Innocent (UK juice company) shows health-oriented thinking, an individual who values the natural, fair-trade and the organic production.
Trying so hard to choose the ‘right’ value to express in a certain situation, or being asked to show a certain value in a situation, people become the actors of their own life. Symbols are shaping societies and actions rather than individuals making symbols out of and for a specific action. People constantly check in and out of situations, verifying their behaviour and regulating their actual way of being in order to satisfy the community they are in. This is the complexity of selves and made up minds which will be explained in the following paragraph. The connection between this constructed self and religion as a commodity in the 21st Century are intense.
Individuals have, as Goffman (1959) argued, multiple selves on the stage of the society and within his/her own existence. He talks about a backstage of lives, where individuals are considering, building, and analysing themselves, and different social situations (stages) where they act themselves. Moreover, the social circumstances and reactions help the backstage process of analysis and construction of one’s self, what today marketers call reference groups (e.g. rockers refer to rockers’ groups). The individual is a “shadowy chooser” (Douglas, 1977: 63) who runs through situations and ‘tries on’ self-presentations from a variety of complex roles. Individuals commonly know they cannot just decide what to be (Douglas, 1977: 65), but that they have to be in constant check with the reactions they receive and re-choose themselves on a constant basis. People have to accommodate their selves to multiple realities where they have to act different roles.
Following with the consumerist society, it becomes easier and easier to play different roles as there are many more tools available, but in the same time, within this globalised hybrid world, the roles become more and more complex as well. The multiplicity of one’s self has become unavoidable and socially required (e.g. business behaviour, family behaviour, types of friendships behaviour, etc.), with more and more rules for actions and rules of thinking. Issues such as racism, sexism, discrimination, etc. are heavily fought against and deeply asked of people to think in specific ways towards them. Opinions, to some extent, are ready-made and sent to individuals to adopt. The self in the 21st Century is complex, continuously tempered with, and never fully accomplished. Today there is a need for multiple plays and constant checking to what is newly asked in terms of behaviour. The ‘easy’ existence in one form is long passed. Societies today are made by multiple various selves that are built up, used, changed, and abandoned (‘make-over’ is a state where someone drastically changes in behaviour and thinking and ‘becomes a new person’).
One could argue there is a spread of plastic selves for the exact reason that individuals are taking on so many roles and are adapting them so fast that they (the individuals) get lost between multiple personalities (no reference to the disorder). Even if one claims that his/her true self is, for example, with their close family, say, husband/wife, it can be argued that it is still a play, a deeper and longer living role, yes, but a role. These plastic selves do not mean ‘fake’ in the sense of untrue or not believed in, they mean, just as dolls, movable and changeable commodities. This play of selves is active at an emotional and spiritual level as well. One cannot argue contrary to the fact that one’s self is emotive and of spirit, thus an easy transfer to another spiritual realm is quite fast. That said, religion is emotive (subjective, sensitive, emotional) and of spirit as well, shaping and being shaped by one’s personality. Yet we did establish that the personality of one’s self is unrealistic, as there are multiple versions of one’s self.
A short conclusion to all that is mentioned in the last chapters is quite required. The idea at this point through the work is that religion is man-made (the perspective of the essay) and individuals have multiple selves (roles) which implies multiple ways of thinking, thus religion itself is adaptable to the multiple selves, which is showed and helped out by the New Age Movements.
Commodified selves and religions
To some extent, because of the extreme practices of consumerism, people are taught to buy, sell, express themselves via possessions, any that would be, and through other people, that is friends, partners, and groups. Aforementioned are the reasons and outcomes concerning gadgets representing ourselves and clothes showing ‘who one is’, which, if taken as seem through societies, do result into the fact that the selves themselves are commodities, changeable when needed or wished. The relevance of all to religion should have now taken shape.
Individuals create themselves to fit into different boxes that they are supposed to or want to fit, and while the level of freedom is lifted, religion has indeed become a voluntary box. It became one reference group, a choice coming from identification with the beliefs. Individuals are free to roam around the Religious Supermarket and walk away with any item. That is, just as with the self, a commodity.
Because of its commodification, religion became more than beliefs and practices. It offers a gate for political advantage. Although set in stone that the state and religious entities are separated, interferences are still happening, mostly in Eastern Europe. Not necessarily direct political parties that take part in religious-related events, but by the declaration of belief, thus gaining the trust of religious voters. In Romania, for example, this is a certainty, as that society is more religious than others. Statistically, Romania seems secular and the rise of atheism is extremely high, but the surveys do not reach everyone, not older people who live in the country-side by the rules there were decades ago (traditional doctrine-like lives, the Church still being the centre of the village, the pastor the most ‘respected’ person, schools near the church, etc. Therefore, politically, it is highly important to relate to these traditionalist living villages, the pope is who advises people on politics, etc. Adding that most Eastern European countries have high rates of corruption, the equation simplifies. In countries like UK, Germany, France, or Switzerland, religion is far from political spheres, therefore a conclusion such as religion in the traditional sense is still alive would not satisfy due to the rapport. Nonetheless, there are various sayings, as a clarification on these matters cannot be easily made, not in a short informational essay, concerning the rise in terrorism-related to religious matters. These, some would argue, are politically fired and only clothed into religious movements for ‘protection’. As far stretched as it seems, arguments have been made and conspiracy theories are flooding the world, but no actual conclusion has been made, thus the idea of religion as a simple clothing item for politics stays just that, an idea. But again, an interference between the ‘sacred’ of Durkheim and politics today does exist in some settings.
The commodification of religion, then, is still left under a question mark, yes, religion is a choice and it can be self-constructed. The self is a commodity, then what can something made by a commodity be? I would argue, religion is an item waiting on shelves in the hope someone may ‘buy’ it, but in the same time, the traditional settings of religion happen to still exist (South Africa, India, Japan and China, Eastern Europe). ‘The self’ in discussion in the previous paragraphs is a commodity under the same circumstances, namely developed countries. In undeveloped or underdeveloped countries, the self, paradoxically, is still a commodity, but because individuals do not give it that much attention as their primary activity is to survive, then it can be claimed that the self, there, is traditional and understood as ‘given’, ‘pre-set’, ‘unchangeable’ etc. Therefore, religion itself would be commodified in the West and slightly evolved but traditional in the Eastern World.
This issue of commodification is highly philosophical; this essay cannot come up with a clear-cut conclusion. As any other philosophical matter, there is actually no conclusion. There are ideas, weaker or stronger arguments, but the core of these writings are debates left open for the understanding of each individual. Thus, I find it fit to leave my understanding as the final point. Religion is an internal process and what is shown of it (events, sacred buildings, clothes, public practices, etc) is a commodity. Like the self, the backstage and the various shown roles; the backstage is as close to being ‘deeply real’, while the roles are checked over and over again, changed, adapted, etc. Religion, the internal belief, not matter if is a mix taken off the supermarket of religions or the traditional Catholic, Orthodox, Buddhist, etc, is close to ‘deeply real’, while the public practices are a commodity, as they suppose individuals adopting the role of being religious.
Bauman, Z. (2011) Culture in a Liquid Modernity, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Motivation is something people usually have, but sometime you lose it on the way and they say that ‘to make you reach for your aim, all you need is a push’ … Almost perfect, but whoever pushes you better makes sure you’re at the edge of a cliff.
I’m 22 y/o and I’ve already missed my chance at a life of success and actual well-being. This is not going to be an article with references and smart-sayings, this is going to be the reason for itself – the reason why it’s not going to be ‘academically approved’.
I’m 22 and lost the chance to life a while ago, but I realized it a couple of days ago and my first reaction was ‘but I’m young’. And it hit me: I’m not young. I’m too old already to have a successful life. This century destroys us, gives us depression and anxiety, phobia of ourselves. We’re living in a world which only promotes the geniuses who make a successful life until they are like 30 with titles like “he/she started at 16 to…” and I’m like wow… I’m not undermining their work and all, but they are a handful of people while the rest of us is left in the unknown, is left swimming in a pool of depression- and anxiety-pills because we’d never be good enough for this world… when we’re actually the good ones. Geniuses are the rare thing.
When did we stop thinking that being 25 is still young and we still have a life in front of ourselves? When did we stop realizing that we cannot be mature enough before what, 27? Since when did we stop knowing that you’re at your best in your 30s?! …. We didn’t? Then why do we feel like there’s nothing out there for us? Why do we always have to check with someone if we do something? Since when cannot we decide on our own? Why? Because we need support in failure. That is true, but how can we massively fail at 20 y/o? There’s no such thing as failing at 20, it’s trying and not managing, but he- ho, there’s so many years ahead, it’s not an actual failure – yet we all feel like the world’s against us. And the world is against us. That’s what’s sad –
They all say, man, the world’s not against you, it’s not like anyone does something to you. Well no, no one actually does something to you – but everyone as a whole does! As a whole, guys, the society is so fucked up that we require so much experience from a 25 y/o that he/she’s never gonna have – like yeah, I want you to be like 35 but 30 years of experience, please. This used to be a joke, sarcasm, something – it’s not, it’s reality and it actually hurts. You wake up like “yeah, man I’m in uni and I will do something with my life” – then you realize that wherever you want to go (postgrad job, master, etc.), they all need stuff that you couldn’t have achieved: good grades are achievable. But then: internships, whatever jobs, I wouldn’t know what societies and all that… How is that for fair? Because it’s not like some internship or any job and any society, na-ah, they have to be like massive, top-ranking whatever, which guess-fucking-what: require experience already! You’re 23 trying to actually start a life and what you can actually do is grab a chair, a rope, and get a room.
The point is that everyone needs prof that you’re worthy of their environment, degree, whatever, but no one really wants to stand as proof. Like “hey, yeah, I know I’m good, I want to be good, but no one really lets me prove myself so what the fuck am I going to do?”. Well I’m telling you what: you get a job in retail, go up to management, and suck it up, because you weren’t a 16 y/o genius. That is exactly what you do unless you have some friends in some positions and they’d help you with documents that would stand as ‘proof of being worthy’ even if you maybe aren’t.
Seriously, it cannot be just me who feels it. And if it is, someone wake me up to the reality because this is not fun.
First of it all, NRM. New Religious Movements, as you’d easily find on Wikipedia by a quick search, are movements concerned with freedom of individuals in the sense of “it’s all true for you, but not for me”. The adopters of these are people who strongly believe that the God(s) are within the individual and thus each person can be right, no matter the discrepancies between one-another. In a way it does sound like a fairy-tale where everyone is happy with themselves and the other, a society of understanding and because each of them know the ‘rightness’ within all, then they all get along and all that. Also referred to as ‘the new age’, it’s focused on ‘self-discovery’, ‘spiritual growth’, and ‘enlightenment’, the latter having the meaning of ‘reaching light’ and not the scientific beginning. Its roots are in Buddhism and Hinduism which have recently been Westernized; new agers vocabulary include ‘God’ and ‘Universe’, but ‘cosmic consciousness’ and ‘cosmic mind’ mostly, because when they state ‘God’ they refer to ‘Force’, ‘Energy’, and do not use the biblical sense (Rochford, J. M.). They exist via media such as newspapers, magazines, CDs (cassettes), and ‘lectures’. Considering, spirituality abandoned the idea of a main Holy Book (such as The Bible, The Koran, or others) and spreads itself around various sources. It is pretty obvious to exist in different forms as it is a mix-up of beliefs that different between themselves a lot. New-age-spirituality.com quotes “New Age Spirituality steps in to fulfil the need of something (…) that the material world cannot offer”, but it is sociologically interesting how it survives through beliefs in mostly the supernatural in an era of scientific research and proof, and all how it manages to function. Because the material world looked discouraging after two world wars and the atomic bomb, people looked for faith in the spiritual realm. Moreover, due to the same reason and because the church was rigid, individuals looked for freedom, freedom which was given through the idea that the soul lives more lives, that the spirit is what matters.
To me it’s particularly interesting what new religions actually are, and I will go through that as much as possible for the first part of the article. Obviously, as you hypothetically just read on Wikipedia for the first sentence I wrote, they believe in so many things that I couldn’t possibly reach out to all, but I made a list, ‘best of NR’, and it goes as follows. New Age can be said to develop through various astronomical cycles which can be astrologically identified; this is a concept borrowed form Theosophical Doctrine (Hanegraaff, 1996: 303). A common belief is that humanity enters or entered the Age of Aquarius, which should be “New Age of love, joy, peace, abundance, and harmony […] the Golden Age heretofore only dreamed about” (Melton, 1992: 19). Moreover, it would be established through human agency, although some adopters of ‘new age’ beliefs would say it will happen through extraterrastrial forces or spirits (Heelas, 1996: 74). New Age is also differently envisioned; the ‘moderate’ perspective says the Age of Aquarius relies on societal improvement, through converging science, mysticism, and alternative medicine, but also ending the violence of any kind, growing a healthier environment, and conferring international co-operation. Other people see the New Age through a fully utopian vision, namely “Age of Light”, human beings evolving to total spiritual beings who experience unlimited love, bliss, and happiness (Hanegraaff, 1996: 341-343).
This all sums up to: new agers believe that the world goes through astronomical phases and we’re supposed to already have entered the most beautiful phase (did we, really?! Is this as good as it can get?). Moreover, they also claim that this phase is ‘announced’ by anything, really, be it real or supernatural. Another thing the new agers believe in is healing. Not the medicine-like healing as in take medicine or go for surgery, but the pseudoscientific medicine. The belief states that health is the natural form for the human beings’ existence, and illness is the disruption of natural balance (Hanegraaff, 1996: 46-47). It’s true that illness isn’t seen as a positive feature by anyone’s eyes; though, ‘New Age’ therapies attempt to heal the general concept of ‘illness’, which include physical, mental, and spiritual. Considering, the concept of ‘personal growth’ is of great importance. Hanegraaff (1996) roughly categorized the forms of healing in two, as he explains that various authors of New Age Spirituality use different terms to refer to the same things. The first category is Human Potential Movement (HPM) which is related to psychedelic cultures such as hippies and ‘Summer of Love’. The HPM evolved as a counter-cultural rebellion towards mainstream psychology and organised religion – it’s not itself a religion, but a psychological philosophy and framework (Puttick, 2004: 399). The idea is that the Western society supresses massive human potential and that the heeling consists of gaining access to parts of themselves [individuals] that they have alienated; thus HPM is related to individuals reaching as a whole their full potential and gain meaning to their lives (Hanegraaff, 1996: 48-49). Closely related would be the shaman consciousness idea, which argues that the shaman would be an expert in ‘altered states of consciousness’ and adopts them to reach personal healing and growth.
A second category identified by Hanegraaff is the holistic health. This began around 1970s out of the free clinic movement in 1960s and had direct relation to the HPM. These emphasise the idea that the individual is a holistic, with an independent body of mind and vice-versa, and a spirit for the healing process is integrated within the powers of the universe (Hanegraaff, 1996: 54). Some of the holistic healings include acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga, kinesiology, homeopathy, and other forms of bodywork, meditation and visualisation, psychic healing, herbal medicine, or chromotherapy, and also reincarnation therapy (York, 1995). Pseudoscientists are believed to focus healing energy and effect positive results. Chromotherapy is therapy through colour. It is said that chromotherapists use light in the form of colour to ‘balance the energy’ lacking from a person’s body.
This bit translates to: you’re hurt? No worries, go pray in your way! Because there are people out there who just hoover their hands over you and you’re all back to 100% functioning. And not only, there are people who just think of it (distant healing) and you’re healed. And they also use colours in some specific way; I do understand acupuncture though, it makes sense, stabbing yourself in the right places (it actually makes sense exclude my sarcasm). I wonder, didn’t find out, are there people who actually don’t do surgeries and pill-taking but only go for these pseudo-healings? Are they mutated with some sort of hugely advanced self-healing cells – is that you, Wolverine? [Note] I am completely aware they would heel their souls. The issue is not that some people believe that they can have their soul heeled, the problem is that they both go for these supernatural healing ideas and also for the actual scientific medicine to get actual real scientific healing and it can only look to me as cognitive dissonance [/Note]. But the most of them all is reincarnation therapy. I love this one, must admit, I think I was either a cat or a sloth, but the first is more probable just because I can go pure evil sometimes. So if I’ve been a cat , what kind of sins could I be freed of in this life – not catching some particular mouse.. or trying to take over the world? As many unappropriated jokes as I would do, the question is still if they actually take into account you might have been a flower! What sins could it have? If you’ve been a person in all of your past lives (yes, you had more!), then yes, I can go past the resurrecting memories from the unconscious and think of various sins that you’d be freed of; but the main issue that I have with it is that at some point someone will go for this reincarnation therapy and they will find out they have been a leopard, lion, sheep (or that’s what they would be now?), mouse, cat, etc., you get the idea I’m trying to underline.
New Age is a constant trial of creating “a worldview that includes both science and spirituality” (Drury, 2004: 9). Even though it seems that the new age movements reject science, it employs terminology and concepts borrowed particularly from the new physics; moreover, a couple of new age authors come with backgrounds of professional scientists (Hanegraaff, 1996: 62-62). However, ‘new age science’ is a pseudo-science, or best explained by Hanegraaff (1996: 64), Naturphilosophie (Ger., the philosophy of nature). The scope is to discover the nature of the divine and establish the scientific base for the religious beliefs. Given that the new age rejects the dualistic good and evil, the negativity exists for the individual to ‘learn the lesson’ and enable them to advanced spirituality. There is no sin and guilt for the new age (reference to abode idea of reincarnation therapy and it ‘treating’ guilt), as it believes those to hinder spiritual evolution. The movement practically emphasises the cult of positive thinking, although its forms vary. The belief in reincarnation ‘ensure cosmic justice’, but many New Agers manage to separate reincarnation-related concepts and karma as it would be an outer concept, and believe more of the latter. This still assures cosmic balance, although there is no system enforcing punishment for past-life actions (Hanegraaff, 1996: 286). The last idea points to the murdering of science and cherry picking in order to have the end one specifically needs. [Note] Cherry picking – selecting only the results in favour of the result one needs, leaving aside the contra-arguments, or selecting only one encounter so that the result is that one expects and needs to use for further action [/Note]. What is nice to note here is that New Agers don’t do as some Christians do, completely rejecting science. Adopters of new religions are aware of science and praise it in a way, take from with what suits them – which in a way falls in place, because don’t we all at some point use something only because it suits us at some point but ignore anything else about it (see some book you’d use for an essay in university when you only read that useful chapter than completely hide the book back on its shelf, it’s almost the same situation).
Financial prosperity is an issue seen by the New Age proponents; various books have been published to establish the New Age centres, those geld spiritual retreats and classes aimed for business people, and the New Age groups developed training for conducting businesses as well (Heelas, 1996: 62-65). For example, IBM, AT&T, and General Motors welcomed New Age-related seminaries hoping they would increase productivity and efficiency throughout the workers, although what actually happened is that employees claimed this as an assault to their original religious beliefs or that this damaged their psychological health (Rupert, 1992: 127-133). New Agers such as Michael Fox criticise the aim for profit of the movement, claiming it as lack of social consciousness. Regardless, the New Age movement is seen to suit the modern society for its encouragement to individuals to behave as a consumers: they choose spiritual practices on grounds of personal preference. This is very interesting because for as much soul-healing they go for, financial prosperity is at home with them. As few individuals that actually have an interest in NA (see further paragraphs), a lot of people buy at some point some book related to them just for curiosity or because the title sounds good. Not New Age by definition, but I bought a book “The Art of not giving a f*ck” some months ago and I love it – point is: self-teaching books, ideas of how to live a peaceful life with yourself, no matter what that is and in what ways you achieve it – as long as is still moral – and this moral is what everyone considers moral, really, brought to modernity through religion (reference last article), not killing one another and ‘being a good citizen and a good person in general’ – that’s as broad as it can get but each of us knows what that is, because it differs a little bit from society to society. So the new agers are only people who want peace of mind, aren’t they. There is nothing wrong (as in psychological moral-immoral and consequences of both) with it! It’s not irony nor sarcasm, it is nothing wrong with it, I desire peace of mind and balance in my life as well, but the means I use to achieve them are slightly different. I, for one, don’t really want to resurrect from my memory the cat I’ve been in my past life to catch that particular mouse in this life so that my peace of mind would be fully achieved, I just want to end up in this world where I think I deserve by analysing what I am capable of and trying to find a place within these societies.
Fascinating as it might have been for you to read my article until now, I know I didn’t really underlined why NA is so much sociologically interesting. They are interesting for any of us until now. The first idea is that we all know what we’re talking about before we label some specific topic. I would claim we already know what we talk about. Therefore, why would I be interested in New Religious Movements as the sociologist I aspire to be? Demographics of the New Age were studied and drawn to two thirds of participants being women, showing a tension between commodification and the empowerment of women (O’Connor, 2011). The New Age movement could be found in the US, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zeeland in the mid-1990s, with problematic membership as many individuals did not identify themselves as such. However, some participants of the New Age identify themselves as Jewish, Christians, Buddhists, or atheists (Pike, 2004: 25). Sutcliffe (2003: 200) defines the New Age participant as “a religious individualist, mixing and matching cultural resources in an animated spiritual request”. Heelas (1996: 118-119) argues that individuals involved in new age spirituality could be categorized in three: the first group who dedicates themselves to ideals, mostly workers in the ‘field’ of the movement, the “serious part-timers” group who nevertheless spend much of their free time in the rituals of new age, and the “casual part-timers”, the group who occasionally involves themselves in the activities of new age. First of all, religion in general is to be organized either as a Church or denomination (both hierarchically proven), as a sect, or as a cult. The latter is defined by Troeltsch as “a small loosely knit group organized around some common themes and interests, but lacking a sharply defined and exclusive belief system” (1976). Alike the denomination, the cult is tolerant with, and understanding of, its own members (Bruce, 1996). Therefore, the new age movements can only be organized as a cult for their tolerance and diversity. Moreover, the new agers can only be cultic for they lacking the ability to argue between them and, therefore, they need an easy-to-come-easy-to-go system; they are individuals deeply convinced that the truth lies within each person and reality differs from one another. Their organization is sociologically interested because new age is an ‘one-and-only’ case of full tolerance amongst its members and, as their truth-related belief, they accept and cannot argue with individuals of other religion for they would say ‘well, it is true for them’. Excluding the discrepancy between some of their beliefs and the technological advancement of the 21st Century, the new age movement looks from an analytical perspective a mostly positive feature of the society as it only encourages and reproduces morally-accepted values.
It is interesting that the individuals are not huge in number and new agers don’t have a society even comparable with Christians or Buddhists or any others existing today. It’s sociologically interesting that as religious as the USA still is, New Religious Movements did not cover or got people to convert that much; while in the secularized Europe New Religious Movements have such a small chance that one can be blind to it. Asia again is not a fan of New Age Movements, Hindus will stay that way, Buddhists will remain Buddhists, it’s unlikely they will convert to a new age idea in the conditions of today’s secularization. This is the actual interesting fact, what is the impact of new religious movements? Do they have any real chance? But these questions are already answered: because of the small number of adopters and small chance of others converting, the impact is not big nor particularly globally relevant; and they might have a chance, but new religions will not take the statistical digits that other religions lost.
[Note] This is adapted from an official submitted essay to the University of Aberdeen for the course Religion and Society, 2016 [/Note]
Society is shaped by religion among just other few things, therefore a definition of what this is talking about seems required: [religion is a set of] “beliefs, actions, and institutions predicated on the existence of entities with powers of agency (that is, gods) or impersonal powers or processes possessed of moral purpose (the Hindu notion of Karma, for example), which can set the conditions of, or intervene in, human affairs” (Bruce, 2002). The main changes that transferred most of the societies from religiously-ruled to what we would meet today (secularization) is modernization. Modernity begins with, and means the, questioning and somewhat rejection of tradition, the enforcement of individualism and formal equality, and belief in inevitable social, scientific, and technological progress (Foucault, 1975: 170-77). Note: not the entire world is secularized, but there is a globalized secularization manta (Peter Berger) – this will be discussed with another occasion soon enough. The idea of cultural transition is by far not from the past. Various migrants movements are still highly active even within European countries. Just thinking about why Hungary actually built a wall in 2015 proves the point (border barrier as it is nicer called). But the article will be mostly focused on the UK.
The Pakistani Muslims began to fluidly migrate to Britain around 1950s to satisfy the power of labour. Relating from 2001 statistics, there were 650,516 Pakistanis who identified themselves as Muslims. The ONS predicted then for 2005 a growth of approx. 200,000 Pakistani Muslims. In order for all the individuals to integrate in the new society, they had to face change in the perception of the reality: the different manners of living in general had to ‘turn’ the into British citizens. Therefore, the only way in which one can preserve their traditions is by getting together with other alike. Being religious since before moving, Pakistani Muslims had to reconstruct their environment in Britain, which was harder than presumed because of discrimination via stereotyping. According to the 2001 Census, 98% of the British Pakistani are Muslims, that including those born in UK. Key religious organizations have been set up for a better integration, that would be the UK Islamic mission, The British Muslim Forum, The Union of Muslim Organisations, the Islamic Society of Britain, and the Young Muslims (London: Department for Communities and Local Government, 2009: 1.3). These all to prevent losing cultural and religious identity, yet concern mostly the first generation of migrants, although, as seen from the existence of ‘Young Muslims’, in-Britani born Pakistani preserve their traditions and nationality via religion as well.
All this makes perfect sense for the first generation, maybe the second one as well, but what happens, though, after a couple of generations? It is shown by surveys that cross-border marriage within the ethno-religious group help to keep the religious identification (Phalet et al., 2008). That means, individuals usually keep themselves within their specific group to preserve its features for generations to come. We need to keep in mind that we talk about immigrants, individuals whose spouses will be schooled in, in this case, Britain. When being educated, individuals are bound to interact with the environment as of the country instead of that created by his/her family. One more piece of the chain up, we therefore see that secularization is taking over tradition/religion. It’s not implied that religion would not be practiced anymore, but it loses importance in everyday life. “The well-educated were a minority among Muslim immigrants. Their lower religious involvement now is likely to be related to the fact that elites are relatively secular in some countries of origin, such as Turkey” (cf. Guveli, 2011).
An issue to the above idea would be that, on the same fact that they are religious, these groups, Muslims or any other, need their religious traditions kept and, for most of them, that means clustering to have the possibility to, for example, have the day off work when they celebrate a religiously-based event. An example can even be Christians, both orthodox and catholic Christians celebrate Easter, yet a week differs between the dates (usually). Also, a given example are the Jews of northern London, who all live in specific areas, not because anyone would (still) discriminate them, but because they feel the need to continue their traditions and for that they need a closed functioning circle which allows them to look like, act like, and act when and as their tradition is.
Another reason for which migrants cluster can be the simple understanding. Britain is also host country for Nigerian students or young workers who seek profit in order to return home. In Hunt’s interview in 2002, a 22 years old female claimed that “It is not always easy to settle here from another country. God is always here and the church is always here even when I have no money or a job”. The idea that they are not alone and are being understood is also why these people attend the church, 49% of those asked “why did you chose your present Church” answered that they ‘felt like home’; it is also mentioned in Hunt’s interview how the Pentecostal Church did change its face for the younger generations, therefore it is easier to claim membership – “The church is geared to young people. It is not unnecessarily restrictive (…) The Church allows young people to express themselves in their own way” (Jeniffer, 20 years old). Moreover, Pentecostals asked if by ‘believe’ they meant Christian beliefs answered “Yes, that’s part of it. The gospel and all that. But also shared aspirations and hopes”. One of the answers also explains the above ideas in just a few sentences: “People like to continue with the same set up, and with people of a similar background to themselves” (Jennifer, 20 years old).
Considering the Muslims in UK, the RCCG and the examples of Jews, religion itself as a belief means almost the same as it meant in their home-country, but as migrants and considering cultural transition, it does mean a lot more because it affects all parts of their lives: their interactions, their daily-life goes around the traditions which, most of them, are religious. As Hunt writes, “in terms of their social purpose, the new churches [RCCG] are (…) double-coded, they reflect the developments in Nigeria, and function in a constructive way for West Africans in what is (…) the experience of the alienating environment of British society”. On the other hand, there are secularized individuals who aren’t a part of the group, live further away and adopt the destination’s country life-style, but statistically they don’t consist the peak. Through modernisation and constant brutal technological and scientific process, religion loses ground, but those are not the contra argument. This is because nor science nor technology contradict religion, but explain and extend physical phenomena and, therefore, religious explanations lose ground.
“The fundamental assumptions underlying them [technology and science] which we can summarily describe as ‘rationality’ (…) make it unlikely that we will often entertain the notion of the divine” (Bruce, 19969: 51). For example, on April 5th 2007, The St. Petersburg Declarations quotes “We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree. (…) We say to Muslim believers: there is a noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine; to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, and all members of non-Muslim faith communities: we stand with you as free and equal citizens; and to nonbelievers: we defend your unqualified liberty to question and dissent.” (Center For Inquiry, 2007). Moreover, the National Secular Society published in 2016 an article written by Maajid Nawaz, which quotes: “Instead of integrating with wider society, many Muslims in Britain turned in on themselves, integrating more with their co-religionists globally while pulling away from the society into which they were born. (…) As a country we ended up living together, apart”. This information does indeed prove the existence of secular Muslims, but deeply it only shows how cultural transition is so much influenced by religion: even when a group of people declare themselves secular they still need to ‘fight’ religious effects on their own migrant group and on the society they integrate into.
Because of the drastic and rapid technological and scientific development, cultural transition has many ways to happen throughout a workplace, a university, but the migrants who attend one of the two have to be integrated in a more various social life. This can happen in a way or another depending on how secularized the individuals are, but, for example, as some religions interdict consuming alcoholic beverages, those people will not socialise with other over a pint of beer at the end of the day. Socialization over work and university-related duties is hard for people who are bound by their tradition to act in different ways that the country they arrived in and, therefore, clustering happens, in the same time, cultural transition has a hard time to become accomplished. The religious rituals such as attending services once per week, or gathering together for prayers, etc., serve as opportunities for migrants to spend time with people pf their own background. Therefore, religion is important for cultural transition as it has a socializing effect, not only due to the individuals’ beliefs.
[Note] This is adapted from an official submitted essay to the University of Aberdeen for the course Religion and Society, 2016 [/Note]