Religious innovations are adjustments to new experiences but also reflect struggles to maintain continuity. Two dynamics we explore stem from tensions between self-spiritualities and community-based religious practices, and between initiatives that seek to stabilise or replace the social order.
Religious innovations today are adjustments the new and changing social experiences characteristic of the 21st century, but also reflect struggles to maintain a sense of identity and continuity in the face of social and economic and political disruption. Retaining a sense of continuity under rapidly changing circumstances does not allow for passivity, but also requires active innovation. In some cases, both agendas can overlap. The panel explores transformative and continuity-seeking innovations across a variety of cultures to identify underlying commonalities and trends.
There are two important dynamic tensions we hope to explore to better understand these trends.
One is the tension between private, self-development spiritualities and community-based religious practices. Local ritual traditions and cosmologies nowadays are often re-interpreted in terms of personal 'spiritual' experience, in line with a global self-spirituality or esoteric discourse. At the same time,, we see growth in global spiritual tourism to seek out allegedly authentic teachers and sacred places. In either case, 'religion' becomes a matter of intimate personal experience rather than traditional belief or practice.
The other major tension to be explored is between social initiatives that seek to stabilise societies in response to rapid change (e.g. interfaith dialogue, conservative revitalisation, cosmopolitanism), and other, more radical movements that politicize religion in an attempt to revolutionize and replace a current social order that is seen as irredeemable (e.g. revolutionary revitalisation, fundamentalism, new religious movements).