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strange rites

Much has been opined recently about Nones--the increasing numbers of Americans who do not identify as Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim nor any other religion. Rather, when asked about their religion affiliation they answer, “None.”

Tara Isabella Burton (doctorate in theology from Oxford) has interviewed and researched
Nones. She concludes that while unprecedented numbers of Americans are rejecting traditional religion, they are not rejecting religion. They are instead embracing a kaleidoscopic panoply of spiritual traditions, rituals and subcultures: from astrology and witchcraft to SoulCycle, social justice and the alt-right.
The internet makes it easy to connect (digitally, at least) with almost any religious “tribe.” And online capitalism eagerly sells all manner of religious paraphernalia. These combine to pave the way to make one’s spirituality a life-style brand.

Dr Burton claims modern America is undergoing a spiritual revival comparable with the Great Awakenings of centuries past. But disillusioned with organized religion as well as with political norms, Americans increasingly are crafting personal spiritual beliefs, disciplines, and rites that are driven by intuition instead of institutions.

Religion is not being abandoned, it is be Remixed.

Barna Research reports 74% of American millennials agree with the statement, “Whatever is right for your life or works best for you is the only truth you can know.” The basic tenets of intuitional Remixed religion were effectively summarized by this online post:

"I am the only truth I know.

"My emotions are God-given, they tell me what to do and how to live.
"To be my truest self I should follow my instincts, my body and my guts know more than my mind.
"An unjust and repressive society has held me back from becoming my best self. It has warped my faith in my own abilities and my relationship with others.
"I owe it to myself to practice self-care.
"I owe it to the world to perfect myself: physically, spiritually, and morally.
"There is no objective right or wrong. Different people and different societies have different moral obligations."

University of San Diego
Professor Steven Smith agues that in the West there now exist two contrasting expressions of religious belief: those who locate the divine within our world, and those who locate the divine outside it.

Dr Burton claims we do not live in a godless world, we live in a culture that is profoundly anti-institutional. One where the ever-expanding creativity on the Internet mixes with consumer capitalism to make it possible for us all to simultaneously be parishioner, priest, and deity.

Her conclusion: Traditional religions have been unwilling and/or unable to offer compellingly meaningful accounts of the world, provide participants with purpose, nurture sustainable communities, or provide evocative rituals.

America is not secular. It is spiritually self-focused. ~

Dan Nygaard