Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on ReligionInstitute for Studies of Relgion
IJRR :: 2015 Volume 11 :: Article 14
2015 Volume 11, Article 14
The Paganization Process

Author: William Sims Bainbridge

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ABSTRACT

Current debates about the extent and direction of secularization need to take into account the possibility of paganization - not the decline of religion but its fragmentation. One powerful factor that has been shaping all aspects of contemporary culture is revolutionary information technologies, notably the Internet. This article explores these issues through examination of the partial electronic resurrection of the Process Church of the Final Judgement, a religious organization that was well documented during its remarkable rise to public prominence in the years 1963-1975 but has apparently been defunct since then. Four current manifestations that are visible online are (1) Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which was derived from one selected element of the former Process religious tradition; (2) musical groups such as Sabbath Assembly that offer desacralized forms of Processean transcendence in YouTube videos; (3) enduring bodies of Process literature distributed online that offer concepts, metaphors, and values that contrast with majority viewpoints; and (4) low-commitment online communities that provide a measure of social stimulation and fellowship, such as three Process groups on Facebook. Paganization challenges traditional definitions of religion, as the fact that the Process originated as a form of psychotherapy illustrates, and both new theories and new methods may be needed for Internet-based research into the dynamic between secularization and paganization.

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