By The Hedgehog Review, Spring & Summer 2006 Volume Eight Numbers One & Two
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To date, little work has gone beyond being impressed by the growth of the supply of spiritual innovations. Such work as has attempted to measure demand suggests that alternative spiritualities will not refute the secularization paradigm. 45 Challenging Secularization Theory: The Growth of “New Age” Spiritualities of Life Paul Heelas O f the various meanings which have come to be associated with the term “spirituality,” one is readily identifiable. Spirituality is taken to be life itself—the “life force” or “energy” that sustains life in this world, and what lies at the heart of subjective life—the core of what it is to be truly alive.
The purely cerebral is less appealing. 9 If we feel nothing, we are much less likely either to take part in the first place or to continue thereafter. New Arrivals The final factor in this complicated mosaic is somewhat different: the growing number of incomers in almost all European societies. There have been two stages in this process. The first was closely linked to the need for labor in the expanding economies of post-war Europe—notably in Britain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Wherever possible, each of these countries looked to its former empire to expand its workforce: Britain to the West Indies and the Indian sub-continent, France to the 8 The attraction of cathedrals and city-center churches is closely related to the growth in pilgrimage across Europe; see Davie, Religion in Modern Europe, 156–62.
The fragmentation of the religious culture into a range of competing alternatives drastically curtails the routine low-level social reinforcement of beliefs. When we can no longer be sure that those we meet share our faith, we tend to keep it to ourselves. When we can no longer be sure that those we meet share our faith, we tend to keep it to ourselves. At the societal level, the long-term result is a shift to evermore liberal and tolerant forms of religion and eventually to benign indifference.