The New Spirituality: An Introduction to Progressive Belief in the Twenty-First Century.

Author:Holladay, Meredith A.
Position:Book review

The New Spirituality: An Introduction to Progressive Belief in the Twenty-First Century. By Gordon Lynch. London: I. B. Tauris & Co Ltd. 2007. 218 pp. $74.95.

Gordon L ch believes that the secularization assumption is flawed; evidence of this belief for him is that the U.S. remains a deeply Christianized culture" (p. 2). Meanwhile, particularly in Europe, many self-identify with no specific religion. Assuming that people having universal religious motivation, or spiritual motivation is not helpful for him. The task in Lynch s The New Spirituality, is to study spirituality outside the constraints of traditional religious subgroups. Lynch's book reveals several common ties that for him represent a new religious ideology that was developing across and beyond a range of religious traditions" (p. 8). Lynch contends that these elements of a new religious ideology represent, to a significant degree, a future change in the picture of Western religion. He is careful to admit his own bias in his introduction; he is a limited participant in this new movement--as a speaker and an interested party. The two concepts he uses most frequently in his explication are progressive milieu, de-fined as a "diffuse collection of individuals" and progressive spirituality, defined as "a particular form of religious ideology that has been refined, over the past thirty or so years by a range of 'organic intellectuals within the progressive milieu of western religion (p. 10).

Lynch's first chapter discusses in great detail these two key terms. He then proceeds to describe the roots of the progressive spirituality, which entails the key themes of: the desire for an approach to religion and spirituality that is approriate for modern, liberal societies, the rejection of patriarchal forms of religion and the search for religious forms that are authentic and liberating for women, the move to resacralize science. .., and the search for a nature-based spirituality that will motivate us to try to avert the impending ecological catastrophe" (p. 10). These roots of the ideology may help explain why members of progressive groups often find greater solidarity with members of progressive groups of other religions than within their own religious tradition.

The second chapter addresses the "new spirituality" as not just a trend, but as a viable religious ideology. Lynch gives particular attention to how religious persons have chanaged or adapted their view of the divine. How the...

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