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What has happened The phenomenon is so similar to the phase transition we know from the Science lessons at school. Really, take a small grain of common salt and observe a structure in it using an electronic microscope or any other such kind of a device, and you will see a cubic lattice in which the atoms of the two types follow each other in a strict order. Warm it gradually, and it will become a liquid in which the molecules of natrium chloride flow, circling in a natural convection. Give it some more heat, the molecules fly in every possible direction, now they have become a gas. More heat, and molecules start to tremble. More and they dissociate, lonely, though very energetic atoms fill all the space they could reach in their flight. Hardly do they need each other, too high the temperature is.

But the society in the very same manner possesses a social energy which we may as well call temperature, growing with time. The development of civilization, which for some pretty unobvious reasons Sergey SIPAROV we call the progress, makes a human able to get free from all the others (at least one can think so), to move vastly and rapidly, and to shake and tremble in complete loneliness, realizing himself in a mad dance. The beating rhythms and dissonant sounds drive one to the cosmos of forgetfulness, leaving no place and no time to regret. This is a kind of ecstasy, unification with the Universe, existential feeling of space-time in its refined curvature. Farewell to the solemn harmony of mazurka, farewell to the champagne of the waltz, farewell to the bitter aperitiff of the foxtrot, heroin takes the place. What's the next We shall see. And if we wish to learn something about the future perspectives of our society in a global scale, there is a good thermometer of the social temperature that is a social dance. The only thing we have to do is to analyze the tendency of its development for a dozen years. Now it seems that the cubistic break dance was the peak, the crisis. Good old rock has already been present on the social arena and one shouldn't be much surprised, if in the very beginning of the 21-st century we see waltzing ladies and gentlemen in tail-coats.


THE INTERDISCIPLINARY TASK OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES AND THEOLOGY CONCERNING CULTURAL STUDIES Sybille FRITSCH-OPPERMANN 1. In Lower Saxony the topic of new religious movements is part of the activities of the Ministry for women's and youth's affairs. A while ago these new religions were seen as especially attractive and in many cases also a danger for young people.

Meanwhile however it became quite clear, that not only young people, but people of both sexes, all ages and social backgrounds are members of and/or fascinated by those new religions. So, if we ask what causes the attraction of those movements, we can not from the very beginning see this question as one within youth sociology or youth policy and youth education.

Let me therefore at this point make some more general observations concerning the new religious movements and their influence on the political daily life. A good example for the latter is the so-called Scientology Church. It's influence on society and also on economics is steadily growing despite all the law cases and political warnings in the recent past.

But, this influence and the methods which sometimes come close to or even are a total denial of human rights and also the reports in all kinds of media be they objective or not do not explain it's attraction for people of all ages and social status.

Neither does this all explain the insecurity and helplessness of society and church against all different kinds of new religious movements.

Statements of some individuals and politicians as well as interdictions overlook, that behind those new movements there are existential fears and longings which obviously do not find an answer in traditional churches and non Christian religious communities. It is therefore necessary to begin with a detailed analysis of different forms of new religiosity and new religious movements and psychocults in our society. Also the analysis of what makes these movements a problem for their members and for us has to be done. How to explain our fear and insecurities, partly irrational, in dealing with those movements Sybille FRITSCH-OPPERMANN Could it be, that the latter partly arise, since in church and politics and also nowadays philosophy there are no convincing models to deal with the paradoxical relationship, maybe even uncompatability of religion and reason Is the question of secularism still unanswered The concept of freedom of religion and tolerance has to be reconsidered again in a growing multicultural and multireligious as well as secular society. In a situation of a very complicated relationship between church and state especially in Germany we have to ask again what the concept of policy and religions is and what the weak points and deficits in this concept are.

In contrast to the US for example the German Federal Constitutional Court requires a qualification as regards content for those religious communities to be recognized officially. In dealing with this and also with the contents and practices of religious groups it is important to take care of a theological (also in the sense of religious science), sociological, political and economical expertise to be able to judge and if necessary also to develop counter strategies.

But there is also the chance for religion/churches and politics to learn about their own shortcomings and possible future changes.

How to deal with the difficult relation of reason and faith How to answer the desire for new authorities, power, group identifications and self finding processes How to answer the desire for a security of salvation within and after life How to deal with the desire to be different as a part of the self finding process, even with the help of blasphemic means Where do economic and political interests use religion only as a sign/advertisement pattern In family, school, church, policy, law etc. preventive information is necessary. Only after that we may ask if and how official actions are necessary to make it difficult or impossible to join some of those movements. Here are of course some among the new religions which are typical youth movements. Satanism, black masses and some esoteric practices seem to be typical for younger people. Although they are the expression of a social decline and a following counter-reaction against what is to be considered the traditional society and church, there are also younger people from wealthier backgrounds who join such movements either to fill the vacuum in a capitalistic and conform life, only oriented towards superficial values or to revolt against the meaninglessness of life (no fuRELIGIOUS IDENTITY IN A MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY ture). Not seldom secular events hereby get a quasi-religious character (the liturgy of a pop-concert, the knee-fall of football players etc.).

But the phenomenon of the fast growing "new religions" is found in European societies in general (in Eastern Europe the fast growing of such movements could be seen as a counter-reaction against the time of socialist authoritareanism and also against the new nationalisms of traditional churches).

Youth is a part of society and often the weakest part as well. Movements which express the dissatisfaction with society therefore are most likely to be attractive for youth too. On the other hand this means that like in other aspects too the disposition of society in general can be seen in what is happening in youth movements in a seismographical way. And this is not only the case since youth is the society of the future if there will be any at all.

2. It would be too great a generalisation to consider the new religions as a part of multicultural society.

True is, that for Islam and Judaism the new religions are more attractive where both are no longer a minority. Also true is that nonmonotheistic religions are capable of integrating elements of the new religions without losing their identity.

True is also, that Islam and Judaism are by far less attractive alternatives for those religious and spiritual longings which seem not to be answered in traditional Christianity than Buddhist schools and schools of Eastern or, in another way, schamanistic practices.

Besides a detailed analysis of new religions it might be helpful therefore to also analyze what makes the latter so attractive.

If church wants to offer another alternative to secularism and to the escape into New Age religiosity besides social-ethical engagement which seems not to be enough (see below) the question has to be answered, if there is a specific Christian religiosity.

Although Christianity is a religion of the book it nevertheless needs story telling remembrance, needs testimony of an event: the encounter with the person of Jesus Christ (Schleiermacher). Therefore Christian religion does not know a sacral realm outside of the world.

The Holy meets us within world and daily life (incarnation) and in the metaphorical realisation and presentation (Vergegenwrtigung) of what happened (Ebeling).

Then Christian faith has to proof it's liability also as thinking faith in the change of always new time horizons. Faith for example proves itself in a new perception of world. In theology, family, education etc.

world is brought into a new perspective of perception through faith. This Sybille FRITSCH-OPPERMANN perception has to be holistic, in theory but also in spiritual and liturgical practice.

But since those forms of religious life stay relative because of the always critical and corrective function of the Evangelium, they never are the Whole. The fear of syncretism in religious forms of life therefore can be relativated too. Nevertheless there have to be criteria; how are the forms of celebration, praise and thank of the communication/communicating community, of aesthetical and moral life, still recognizable as an expression of the testimony of Christ 3. a) It seems that the attraction of the non-monotheistic religions is also a revolt against a too patriarchal society. In meditation, religious practice, mysticism and inner-worldliness a democratic religious community and a stress on the free individual as a subject of religion is seen as an alternative to a patriarchal hierarchy. But this often ends in syncretism, subjectivism and irrealism.

b) There is nevertheless another way of dealing with this patriarchic structures, which seems to be very attractive for those (young) people, who are seeking for a new authority (since they do not like/do not find a place within the authoritarian structures of this patriarchal society). This is what we might call Christian or Muslim fundamentalism (not being able at this point to also analyse the important differences between them). God/Allah (and his representatives) are seen as alternative authorities. The insecurity about future, peace and justice, the search for new orientation in an age where the difference of good and bad seems to fade is not analysed but substituted by (new) formal and often unhealthy authorities claiming to posess truth and salvation through tradition (often scripture) almost as an unchanging fact.

c) For the new religions this means that they might become dangerous or destructive in a twofold sense: to compete they often combine a false liberalism/subjectivism with a false and destructive and nevertheless patriarchal authority. The insecurity and dependence, irrationalism and fundamentalism, only grow.

In all three cases (a-c) there is no reflection on an inherent authority in the sense of a reality beyond daily life which is the real ground for salvation and wholeness and for an independent and responsible individual too an individual which is free and a faithful member of a community nevertheless.

4. Coming back to the question of multicultural society therefore having in mind the important differences between different new religions themselves and between non-Christian religions and also between new religions and non-Christian religions we should not too easily RELIGIOUS IDENTITY IN A MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY talk of dialogue as if dialogue was a fact and we all would agree on what dialogue really is. First of all dialogue is a concept of (Western) European culture. It reflects the conviction that paradoxa can be solved that there always in the end has to be a logical agreement. Secondly there is no democratic dialogue between partners who are not equally strong.

Thirdly there is no dialogue without clarification of chances and limits of communication and hermeneutics.

Once more we need to differentiate between culture and religion. In analysing fundamentalism, for example, we must be aware, that on the one hand religion shapes culture in a very intensive way while on the other hand culture is a very important component of politics.

And we have to clarify where and how politics use religion to hide purely material aims and the striving for wordly power.

Finally, the problems and chances of multicultural societies and the role of religions in it for self-ensured, engaged individuals is not possible to be considered in a creative way without listening to the results of modern sociology, cultural anthropology and cultural studies as well as philosophy.

The reciprocity of religion, culture and politics as well as economics and jurisdiction more than ever shows the necessity of interdisciplinary research as to analyzing nowadays societies and taking serious the world as global village.

5. If at all there was a special role for churches it could maybe be called a guardian of true religion be it their own Christian religion or other religions as part of God's creation.

Without the striving for absolutism and cultural/spiritual imperialism church could be a space to practise and live this true Christian religion which never can live without spirituality and reason as well as recognizing the results of interdisciplinary research concerning these questions and which is closely connected but not identical with faith and confession.

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