Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
Here are the notes from the Christmas Wiki's entry on Postmodern Religion as a follow up to the thread on Modern Religion. It a little more sprawling and unruly as we might expect from a complexity-oriented and still-emerging form of social context and human consciousness.
the postmodern god
Any concept or intuition of Deity appropriate to the Postmodern (pluralistic, or "meta-") cultural operating system.
The Postmodern God embodies an understanding of Divinity and Religion that expresses the characteristic sentiments and comprehension styles of postmodern individuals and communities. Such styles are commonly associated with the following concepts: pluralism, "green meme" values, planetary multiculturalism, ecological & digital networks, multidimensionality, the "game-like" mutual creation of identity, deconstructionism, irony, virtual reality, psychoanalytic society, the linguistic turn in philosophy, relativity & complexity, etc. Religionization of culture -- whether formal or informal -- is operative at this particular level when it is distinguished by some or all of the following elements:
A normal response to the Postmodern Deity (which is to say: typical, level-appropriate postmodern religion whether sophisticated or informal) tends to embrace all sentient beings & systems within a sacred attempt to improve the sensitive, multidimensional health and pleasure of the World. It requires periodic psychological, physical and social forms of "therapeutic embrace" and bio-energetic arousal to the point of synchronicity. Also regular encounters with the mystery of the edge-of-thinkability. Any form of religion exhibiting these elements should be considered as Postmodern. And anyone embracing these must be considered as an active participant in modern-level religion.
It is common (but also quite superficial and premature) to view the Spirit of Postmodernity in opposition to the notion of DEFINITE religion and a SINGULAR God. However those are versions of religion applicable to mythic and to some degree modernist religion.The 7 Limbs of Postmodernist Religion
We may say that there are four main Modernist "religious perspectives". These are: Neo-Paganism, New Age, Interfaith Monotheism, Entertainment Cults, "Western Buddhism", Sacred Ecology & Digital Transmutation Movements. Once we have understood that these are forms of Religion (i.e. that none of them, regardless of their attitude toward mythic religiosity, constitutes an anti-religious stance) then we are empowered to inspect the basic religious characteristics of Postmodernity.
This general platform of religion became common in the 19th century but is not unique to the world formed by print literacy & international industry. In fact rational religious agents were central players in the history of faith from the Axial Age onward. There are many ways of describing and intuiting the rational, natural and absence-like power of the Chief Deity. Buddhists frequently discussed An-Atman (the non-present Great Spirit). Egyptian priests spoke of Osiris being vacant from his throne -- wandering unseen in the underworld. And Christianity has long been characterized by the motif of "God's Death" and the rolling away of the stone to reveal that Christ's tomb is mysteriously empty.
Such images feed into and describe a general layer of religion. It can be seen occurring almost interchangeably within the following common forms:
Wicca, Neo-Shamanism, Reformed Druidism, Asatru; Geomancy; Forest Bathing; Wilderness Raves. Sacred Body Art. Orgiastic rites. Intoxication, sexuality and the holiness of natural locations become standard religious practices.
2. The New Age
Theosophical, psychic; metaphysical revival occasioned by preliminary East/West esoteric fusion. Often with a strong reliance on the pluralism-friendly, altered-states traditions of Vedic yoga & philosophy from India.
3. Interfaith Monotheism
Socially progressive & "inter-religiously friendly" versions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam. Also Baha'i, etc.
4. Entertainment Cults
Humor & Fantasy sects. The production of religious sentiments and rituals from the content of books, movies, etc. As well as humorous and reversal religions like the Discordians, The Church of Satan, The Church of the SubGenius, etc. It can be readily observed that "hollywood stars" and "internet celebrities" function like the pantheon of demi-gods in pagan civilizations. Into this group we must also put hobbyists who take their modern hobby (e.g. the sacred allure of classic cars) to the next level (e.g. building a replica out of butter, sending the car to the bottom of the ocean with a live camera on board. Postmodern religion is commonly characterized by informal and temporary circles of free-sharing and in the context of entertain cults this often takes the form of surrealistic open and the mutual affirmation of personally pleasing remixes, modification and transfigurations of a shared pools of content. It also includes sacred transformational symbolists -- i.e. figures like Madonna, Lady Gaga and others who publicly communicate charged content with little regard to its signification and who frequently manifest re-invention, costume change and self-transformation.
5. "Western Buddhism"
The combination of right-brain practices with capitalism-friendly form of private spirituality, zen for effectiveness, etc. Yoga for health and beauty. Increased creativity through neurological yogas. Stress-reduction. The aesthetics of color and energy. The aesthetic experience of "boggling" the mind with apparent paradox and counter-intuitive notions that extend reality indefinitely in mere potential. The holiness of "alpha waves" and other resting, self-aware, creative brain states.
6. Sacred Ecology
Gaia & eco-crusades. The Living Web. Organic prices and "green taxes" as a form of tithing. Symbolic social "recycling" rituals and the attempt to gain blessing through "conservation" and "minimization".
7. Digital Transmutation Movements.
AI, cyber-immortality, being information, becoming-light, technological transmuation. Sacred "concerts" in which entheogenic chemicals are combined with patterns of digital sound to orient the nervous system into digital space and the sense of trans-bodily immortality.