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Session Chair: Bernadett Bigalke | Friday, August 28, 9-11 a.m. | Venue

Tatiana Malevich

The categories of “new spirituality” and “traditional religion”: an attempt at differentiating in Russian context

The proposed paper presents general findings of a series of empirical research projects on the possibilities of applying the categories of “new spirituality” and “traditional religion” to Russian realities. The research was conducted by means of the following instruments partly borrowed from the European colleagues and adapted to Russian particularities: 1) the so-called “New spirituality / traditional religion” scale; 2) a close-ended question concerning the respondents’ self-definitions in terms of “being spiritual” and / or “being religious”; 2) four Likert-type scales aimed to define the respondents’ self-ratings of “actual” and “desirable” spirituality / religiosity; 4) the Personality Differential ratings concerning the categories of “spiritual person” and “religious person.” The findings show that the concepts “new spirituality” and “traditional religion” have relevance to the contemporary Russian religious situation and could be effectively used in its context, but with some limitations. The possible reasons and nature of such limitations are discussed.

Susannah Crockford

A Religion Called Spirituality? Walking the Spiritual Path in Sedona, Arizona

Many participants in what is often labelled ‘new age’ reject that term and instead talk about ‘spirituality’ in a broad yet individualised sense. Sedona, Arizona has a significant spiritual community drawn to the area because there are said to be one or many ‘vortexes’ there, sites of spiralling spiritual energy. Many of the individuals who travel there describe themselves as being on a spiritual path. The spiritual path is a process of ‘following your heart’ and often involves utilising diverse sources for practice. This creates a highly individualised religiosity. Based on two years ethnographic fieldwork in Sedona and the surrounding areas, this paper proposes to examine the valences of the term ‘spirituality’ in this context and whether it can be interpreted as a religion. What does the examination of this local form add to general theories of religion? How is this part of broader cultural changes in religious practice?

Michael Amoruso

Spiritual But Still Religious: Religious Affiliation and Movement in São Paulo’s Devotion to Souls

Every Monday, countless Brazilians travel to Catholic churches to light candles, pray to, thank, and ask things of departed human souls. While most devotees identify as Catholic, some do not affiliate with the Church, and many consider themselves Catholic and something else too. The eclecticism among devotees is often reflected in individuals’ devotions, which may incorporate distinctly non-Catholic elements such as colored candles for Umbanda entities or Kardecist prayers. This paper addresses the devotion to souls as a vector for movement between religious institutions, theologies, and identities. Given the individual nature of the devotion--a solitary practice conducted in the presence of others--and the complex nature of devotees’ religious affiliations and participation, it questions models of religious affiliation that imply a strong connection between religion and the social group, as well as the applicability of North America’s anti-institutional “spirituality” to the Brazilian religious field.

Assia Harwazinski

Spirituality and Critique of Religion in the Work of Joni Mitchell

The American "anti-intellectual" singer Joni Mitchell (born in 1943 in Alberta, Canada, as Roberta Joan Anderson), belonged to the Anti-Vietnam-war, Civil-Rights- and Ecology-Movement - shortly: to the origins of the Woodstock-festival and a whole generation of flower-power-artists of all branches in the USA. Her beginnings included a phase in Laurel Canyon, the artistic hippie-colony in Los Angeles where she was embedded in the free-floating spirituality of this time and place significant for a whole generation of artists with very individual developments. This spirituality was precondition as well as expression of this artistic colony which only lasted a few years before being disrupted by scary incidents. Mitchell´s work reflects this spirituality, combined with a growing critique of traditional religion of dominant US-society, in part of her work.


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