Christianity, academia, and whatever else I happen to be thinking about
I would speculate it has a lot to do with a broadening of the definition of "religious and spiritual". The more inclusive these terms are, the larger a proportion of the population we may find who report experiencing them.
I would say that the disguised witchcraft is making quite a comeback these days. The idea that if you do certain things and think a certain way, good things will happen to you -- Oprah flavored spirituality.Really this is taught in a lot of evangelical churches - sometimes unwittingly, sometimes comp licitly The focus is on self improvement rather than loving God. If demons are real and have real power, it only makes sense that they would aid and abet such belief systems that idolize self over God.
My first thought was the same as Drek's. But then you have to ask: why has that definition changed?My second thought was drugs, which would explain the rise in the 60s, but not the 90s. Anyway, it's a pretty big change, and I find it fascinating. Thanks for calling my attention to it. (And I'm speaking as someone who would have answered "no" -- unless you count going to Simone Barsky's bat mitzvah as a religious experience.)
Interesting, Drek. I hadn't thought about the definition changing. My thought would have been a variation of what you say, Josh, and that's that churches are emphasizing religious experiences more now than before. Or, perhaps the churches growing the fastest emphasize it.
My first thought was also that the definition may have changed, with a wider range of experiences being considered "religious or spiritual." I'm not sure I would be too surprised to find some people who consider something like seeing Avatar to be a "religious" experience.
I came to Christ in '72 at the age of 30 and 38 years later can only speak of my experience, that the "spiritual experience" has not changed, only the arena in which I first found it. I'm also willing to admit that I believe one's view of the arena changes as one goes and God simply remains willing to meet with us where we are. In other words, both my church and my denomination has changed in more than three decades; but, then, so have I. God, however, has patience with both of us.....
The increase of religious experiences may be consistent with the emerging church movement. 500 years ago Martin Luther proclaimed that you didn't have to go to the Pope to experience God and the Church tried to kill him for it. What was the Pope doing? Trying to increase his profits off of believers by selling indulgences for a price. Not very Christian of them! Today the emergent church is rediscovering the same idea. You don't have to write checks to a church to have a relationship with God. Of course the people who are politically, financially or emotionally invested in a traditional church will scream and howl that this movement is witchcraft or some sinister plot from the devil but its really just the realization by Christians that most churches are just leaches sucking a profit off of the name of God and giving little in return. Heck they don't even pay their fair share of taxes leaving the rest of us to pay extra to make up the shortfall. Jesus told us to give our money to the poor not to a church. You don't have to be in church to have a religious experience anymore and people are figuring that out. It sure is a great time to be alive!
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