Sacralised cosmopolitanism in progressive spirituality

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Sacralised cosmopolitanism in progressive spirituality

Type: Master thesis
Title: Sacralised cosmopolitanism in progressive spirituality
Author: Neven, Johannes Joris
Issue Date: 2016-06-30
Keywords: Ulrich Beck
Second Modernity
Religious cosmopolitanism
Progressive spirituality
Spiritualities of life
Lived religion
A God of One's Own
Abstract: In recent years the discipline of sociology put the topic of religion back on its research agenda. Among them was Ulrich Beck who introduced his theory of modern religion in the work 'A God of One's Own' (2010). This thesis critically discusses this work and adds further theoretical reflection, partly with the help of other scholarly research. An embedding of the work in Beck's general theory of modernity is included as well. The research question of the thesis concentrates on two of Beck’s characterized forms of modern individual religion: ‘post-modern religiosity’ and ‘cosmopolitan religiosity’. In regard to ‘post-modern religiosity’ it is argued that Beck’s depiction of self-directedness, relativism and incoherency is based on a view that flattens out the characteristics of ‘spirituality’. It is argued that this is the result of Beck's broad brush theorizing, of normative intentions and of a Protestant bias. Informed by the theoretical notion of 'lived religion' it is showed with the help of Woodhead's and Heelas's works that aspects of Beck's depiction of spirituality must be nuanced. The critique in particular aims at the asserted incoherence by showing that the there is nevertheless an underlying belief-structure at work. Furthermore Heelas's arguments are included on how spirituality relates to Simmel's notion of ‘life’ and how this informs Enlightenment values and ethics. In continuing the argument, with new theoretical possibilities at hand, Lynch's work on 'progressive spirituality' is involved in the discussion. This form of spirituality exemplifies the public, political, relational sides and agendas of (particular expressions of) spirituality. A comparison between 'progressive spirituality' and 'cosmopolitan religiosity' is drawn to conclude that they show strong similarities. Lynch's research thus shows that some forms of 'post-modern' religiosity are much more indebted to 'religious cosmopolitanism' than Beck presents, and that 'progressive spirituality' provides an answer to Beck's desired form of modern religiosity.
Supervisor: Davidsen, Markus Altena
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: Theology and Religious Studies (Master)
Specialisation: Religion, Culture and Society
ECTS Credits: 20

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