Religion: Glimpses of its Future

Image Credit: Public Domain Pictures.

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Something of interest to me in terms of the sociological analysis of religion in Canadian society is the futurist perspective or the futurism perspective on religion. I do not mean science fiction.

I mean the potential streams in the evolution of religion in light of modernity as well as kinds of selection for faith. How will it change the future? What will be the variables or factors that select one stream or another for the set of possible futures of religion?

In British Columbia, for instance, we find New Age spiritualists and practices formalized or disjunct. Formal New Age spiritist groups emerge with complete, and incoherent, worldviews. But I also see individual movements based on practices or beliefs disjunct from a complete worldview, which amount to weekender New Age practices groups.

In the nation as a whole, we find a distaste for religion in general, increasingly. So, religion, especially Christianity in many contexts, takes on a ‘He-who-shall-not-be-named persona.’

The religious leaders understand this to some degree. Some prominent academics understand this too, I suspect. So, they want to proselytize to the new, younger generations, which they know are far less religious – where this becomes particularly important when religion is a political tool in Canada (and everywhere else).

That leaves the need to take a new marketing and advertising approach to religion. As far as I can tell, it is mainly taking Christianity – its principles, ethics, worldview, and central figures especially Christ – and then re-selling it to the younger generations without calling in Christianity: keep an eye out for it.

In the irreligious community, we find the Sunday Assemblies, Calgary Secular Church, and the newly founded Oasis Network. But for those that this fails to appeal to, we find an emphasis on arts and culture, as well as an emphasis on stewarding the next generation and nature a la Margaret Atwood. Granted, she is an agnostic.

Another possible path of interest to me was something that came up in an October 24 news article by Jeff Walters (Walters, 2017). In it, he looks at two religions in one church with one reverend. (It sounds like the setup to a bad joke.) It is Emmanuel Anglican United Church. It is for the Anglican religion as well as the United Church of Canada.

This dual religion has happened for four decades. With an inability to sustain one faith because of a decline in numbers, they decided to merge.

I see hints of this with the Eastern Orthodox Church Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Roman Catholic Church Patriarch Pope Francis meeting together. I’m intrigued as to the mergers that happen, which seem to occur because of declining numbers or simply less religiosity.

So, we have formal leaving religion with alternate community groups arising. We have efforts to teach, even impose, faith-based worldviews on the secular culture through not stating it as a faith-based worldview because faith and religion have a negative connotation in Canadian culture at times. This is especially true for younger generations.

There are efforts to be an individual in Canadian society who focuses on environmental efforts as well as the development of a community of arts and culture while leaving religion behind without much thought. Something that may appeal to apatheists. Then for the declining religions, often the more moderate ones, they merge.

I would love to see a more formal study into this as an academic discipline. If you see anything, please send to my email: scott.d.jacobsen@gmail.com.

References

Walters, J. (2017, October 24). Dual religion church in Ignace, Ont., unique in Canada. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/thunder-bay-religions-ignace-1.4368665.

One thought on “Religion: Glimpses of its Future

  1. There is a divide between ‘practice’ and ‘study’. It is sometimes assumed that practicing religious people would be interested in religious studies. Nothing can be further from the truth. I correspond with a few individuals who enthusiastically read history, study archeology and delight in textual studies. These studious people always comment on how antithetical their interests are to their practicing family members.

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