Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Awakening, Counter-Awakening, and the End of Church - Diana Butler Bass at Religion Dispatches

We are currently in the throes of a spiritual awakening.

We can choose to move forward into new emerging spiritualities, or we can heed the siren sound of the traditionalists calling us back to a romanticized, rigid, past.  We are not passive observers but active participants in shaping what’s to come.

An awakening is not a revival. An awakening is not an individual or ritualized event, but a larger cultural event where the whole of a society or group of people become changed, transformed, reoriented toward something new. In the literature of awakening, they are typically understood as revitalization movements that happen to groups rather than individuals.  We are in a period of intense cultural reorientation or revitalization, and that during an awakening, politics, worldviews, religion, education—the whole way a society approaches being community, and connecting with one another, and understanding their God or their gods—it all changes.

For an awakening to happen, old institutions have to go away. What once existed has to change. What we’re in the moment of right now in American culture is that our old institutions, our way of being a church—our way of understanding any kind of religious tradition, be it Judaism, Islam or Christianity—all of those older patterns are dying.

I think you can look at the first decade of the 21st century and see that there has been a massive failure of religious institutions. When that kind of failure happens, what is happening concurrently is that the people who used to be part of those institutions are now unaffiliated. The institutions have failed them and they are now just floating around without a clear set of religious labels that they identify themselves with. Or they lack an institutional home.

The full article is available here