The twentieth century was a period of rapid change for religion. Secularisation resulted in a dramatic fall in church attendance in the West, and the 1950s and 1960s saw the introduction of new religions including the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), the Church of Scientology, and the Children of God. New religions were regarded with suspicion by society in general and Religious Studies scholars alike until the 1990s, when the emergence of a second generation of 'new new' religions – based on popular cultural forms including films, novels, computer games and comic books – and highly individualistic spiritualities confirmed the utter transformation of the religio-spiritual landscape. Indeed, Scientology and ISKCON appeared almost traditional and conservative when compared to the radically de-institutionalised, eclectic, parodic, fun-loving and experimental fiction-based, invented and hyper-real religions.
In this book, scholarly treatments of cutting-edge religious and spiritual trends are brought into conversation with contributions by representatives of Dudeism, the Church of All Worlds, the Temple of the Jedi Order and Tolkien spirituality groups. This book will simultaneously entertain, shock, challenge and delight scholars of religious studies, as well as those with a wider interest in new religious movements.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Fiction, Invention, and Hyper-reality in New Religions and Spiritialities
Carole M. Cusack and Pavol Kosnáč
Tolkien’s Legendarium, the Elven Lineage, and the Internet
1. The Elven Path and the Silver Ship of the Valar: Two Spiritual Groups Based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium
Reverend Michaele Alyras de Cygne and Calantirniel
2. Spirituality and Self-Realisation as ‘Other-Than-Human’: The Otherkin and Therianthropy Communities
Carole M. Cusack
3. Salvation and Animation: Religion, Fandom, and Identity in the Romantic Narratives of Mystics and Soulbonders
Venetia Laura Delano Robertson
4. The Development of Spirituality in the Brony Community
Film and Television as Sacred Texts
5. Spirituality Struck: Anime and Religio-Spiritual Devotional Practices
6. Jediism and the Temple of the Jedi Order
The Temple of the Jedi Order
7. Virtual Knights and Synthetic Realms: Jediism in Second Life
8. A Brief History of Dudeism
9. Diego Maradona and the Psychodynamics of Football Fandom in International Cinema
Online Mediation of Invented, Fiction-Based, and Hyper-real Religions
10. "Discordians Stick Apart": The Institutional Turn Within Contemporary Discordianism
J. Christian Greer
11. SubGenius vs The Conspiracy: Playfulness and Sincerity in Invented Religions
David G. Robertson
12. Kopimism and Media Devotion: Piracy, Activism, Art, and Critique as Religious Practice
Danielle L. Kirby and Elisha H. McIntyre
13. Beyond Belief: Revival in Virtual Worlds
William Sims Bainbridge
Countercultural Personal Spiritualities and Religions
14. African-American Ufology in the Music and Mythos of Sun Ra
Johanna J. M. Petsche
15. The Church of All Worlds
16. An Implicit Hyper-real Religion: Real-Life Superheroes
Adam Possamai and Vladislav Iouchkov
Carole M. Cusack is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia. She trained as a medievalist and her PhD was published as Conversion among the Germanic Peoples (1998). She now specialises in contemporary religious trends (pilgrimage and tourism, modern Pagan religions, NRMs, and religion and popular culture). Her books include Invented Religions: Imagination, Fiction and Faith (2010), The Sacred Tree: Ancient and Medieval Manifestations (2011) and (with Katharine Buljan) Anime, Religion, and Spirituality: Profane and Sacred Worlds in Contemporary Japan (2014). She has published widely in edited volumes and journals, and is the editor (with Christopher Hartney) of Religion and Retributive Logic: Essays in Honour of Garry W. Trompf (2010) and (with Alex Norman) of Handbook of New Religions and Cultural Production (2012).
Pavol Kosnáč is an independent scholar based in Bratislava, Slovakia. He has studied Religious Studies at Comenius University, where he obtained his BA and MA, and political philosophy, jurisprudence and European culture at the Collegium of Anton Neuwirt (both in Bratislava). Afterwards he moved to England to continue his studies at the University of Oxford, completing an MSt in Study of Religion. He held a six-month placement at INFORM in London, then travelled extensively working as a freelance analyst for British, Slovak and Asian think-tanks. He plans to start a PhD next year. His academic background is mostly in sociology of religion, history of Christianity and Islam, and the study of new religious movements. He is interested especially in new and alternative religiosity, non-religiosity, the contemporary religious situation in Europe, and overlaps between religion, violence and war.
"This book’s goal is to serve as an introductory text on a variety of new religions and spiritualities, their worldview, and the complexity of their ongoing fight for legitimacy. The contributors to Fiction, Invention and Hyper-reality successfully demonstrate that these “phenomena have real life consequences.”"
- Tarryl Janik, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
"This volume takes readers on a truly marvelous journey. Insightful and a pleasure to read."
- Lukas Pokorny, University of Vienna, Religious Studies Review