Religious experience in contemporary society

Harvey, Graham (2000) Religious experience in contemporary society.

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There is no single thing that can be bottled and neatly labelled as ‘religious experience’. What happens in an Anglican eucharist is not the same as in an Hasidic Seder. A Baha’i Fireside does not feel the same as Buddhist meditation. Participation in a Druid Grove is not like Friday prayers at a Mosque. These experiences are not the same, nor are they easily comparable. Not only are the actions and locations different (this would be a simple matter of description), but the essences, purposes, effects and moods are different. Not only are these religious experiences different in their outer appearances but their hearts are different. This discussion begins with a sketch of the diversity of spiritualities experienced in Britain today. This is not merely a token recognition of plurality or pluralism, but is an important aspect both of contemporary religious experience and of its study. Central sections are devoted to a particular complex of religious experiences which can, with certain reservations, be labelled ‘animism’. These both illustrate the diversity available and exemplify the challenge to various alternative understandings of spirituality. The conclusion notes some problems arising from the diversity of religious experience. Observing diversity is central to understanding spirituality because the range of experiences which people label ‘spiritual’ vary far more than some commentators have allowed. It is also significant as diversity or plurality, if not always pluralism, is an increasingly important part of the contemporary, postmodern world, and of spiritualities which affirm it. The conclusion thus notes not only the importance of diversity for the study of religion, but also suggests that the study of contemporary animism contributes significantly to that discipline.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Series: RERC Second Series Occasional Papers;14.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Experience (Religion)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
Divisions: Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre > Second Series of Occasional Papers
Depositing User: John Dalling
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2014 14:09
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2016 16:06

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