1st Edition

The Problem of Invented Religions

Edited By Steven J. Sutcliffe, Carole M Cusack Copyright 2016
    172 Pages
    by Routledge

    172 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Invented religions have been described as modern religions which advertise their invented status and reject traditional strategies of authorisation. But what does it mean for a religious formation to be ‘made up’, and how might this status affect perceptions of its legitimacy or authenticity in wider society?

    Based in original fieldwork and archival sources, and in the secondary literature on invented and constructed formations, this volume explores the allure of, as well as the limits of, the invention of religion. Through a series of case studies, the contributors discuss strategies of mobilization and legitimation for new traditions at their point of emergence, as well as taking issue with simplistic interpretations of the phenomenon which neglect wider cultural and political dimensions. This book was originally published as a special issue of Culture and Religion.

    Introduction: Making it (all?) up – ‘invented religions’ and the study of ‘religion’ Steven J. Sutcliffe and Carole M. Cusack

    1. Play, narrative and the creation of religion: Extending the theoretical base of ‘invented religions’ Carole M. Cusack

    2. Fiction-based religion: Conceptualising a new category against history-based religion and fandom Markus Altena Davidsen

    3. Between Synchromysticism and Paganism: Tracing some metaphysical uses of popular fictions Danielle Lee Kirby

    4. Serious parody: Discordianism as liquid religion Essi Mäkelä and Johanna J.M. Petsche

    5. ‘Rosicrucians at large’: Radical versus qualified invention in the cultic milieu Steven J. Sutcliffe

    6. The appropriation of a religion: The case of Zoroastrianism in contemporary Russia Michael Stausberg and Anna Tessmann

    7. The problem with the jargon of inauthenticity: Towards a materialist repositioning of the analysis of postmodern religion Paul-Francois Tremlett

    8. The category of ‘invented religion’: A new opportunity for studying discourses on ‘religion’ Teemu Taira


    Steven J. Sutcliffe is Senior Lecturer in the Study of Religion at the University of Edinburgh, UK. He is the author of Children of the New Age: A History of Spiritual Practices (2003), editor of Religion: Empirical Studies (2004), and co-editor (with Ingvild Gilhus) of New Age Spirituality: Rethinking Religion (2013).

    Carole M. Cusack is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia. She is the author of Invented Religions: Imagination, Fiction, and Faith (2010), The Sacred Tree: Ancient and Medieval Manifestations (2011), and co-editor (with Alex Norman) of New Religions and Cultural Production (2012).