Cover of Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review
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introduction
1. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
James R. Lewis Orcid-ID

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articles
2. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
James R. Lewis Orcid-ID

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The present article proposes that the notion of forgery be incorporated as an analytic category within religious studies. Following a brief outline of three key periods of religious studies, the factors that have made researchers hesitant to deal with the topic are examined. Religious forgeries are then discussed in terms of different parameters, such as the age of the fabrication, the extent of the forgery and the mode of revelation. With the exception of forgeries created simply for “the fun of it,” religious document forgeries are motivated by the desire to legitimate the authority of certain opinions, systems of religious ideas, and/or the forger. For the most part, the people who manufacture sacred forgeries are not cynical or sinister. Rather, many religious forgers produce documents expressing ideas in which they really do believe and which they hope to promote via their fabrications.
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3. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Eugene V. Gallagher

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This essay argues against the idea, frequently advanced by contemporary anti- and counter-cult writers, that the appearance of new religious movements in the last few decades is unprecedented. It shows that claim to be less a statement of fact than a rhetorical device that has been used frequently throughout history to incite and exacerbate fears about new religious groups that are perceived to be threatening to the status quo. It traces significant rhetorical and substantial continuities in the polemic against new religions not only to earlier American history in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries but also to the second and third centuries in the ancient Mediterranean world, where early Christian groups were subjected to the same types of criticisms as contemporary “cults.”
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4. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Sara Møldrup Thejls

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The tantric yoga organization MISA (Movement for Spiritual Integration in Absolute) has become one of the most successful European yoga schools. The teachings of MISA present a doctrine of synthesis wherein elements from Orthodox Christianity, esoteric Traditionalism, conspiracy theories, and New Age ideas are combined with Tantric philosophy and practice. The present paper presents (1) an exposition of the political intrigues and agendas surrounding the movement, and (2) the teachings of MISA as they appear in the outer and inner circles of the movement, taking the case of their Danish headquarters as an illustrative example.
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5. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Erin Prophet

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Opinion surveys and media representations demonstrate the unpopularity of the Church of Scientology and its members, which is out of proportion to the group’s size or influence. Members have been persecuted and shunned in the United States and Europe. Monster theory, a form of critical theory that proposes that our monsters describe and circumscribe us, is used as a framework to evaluate the irrational side of this unpopularity. Monster theory identifies hybridity and boundary-crossing as hallmarks of monstrosity. While not arguing that members of these groups are in fact monsters, it is proposed that both hallmarks are found in New Religions Movements (NRMs) in general, but in Scientology to a greater degree. Scientology transgresses not only the borders of established religion, but also science, medicine, and psychiatry, foundation of the modern legal system and the secular state. While actual legal transgressions by the group’s leadership are acknowledged, it is argued that these are largely in the past and that residual antipathy has more to do with the group’s perceived “monstrosity” than with actual acts.
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6. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Murphy Pizza

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Nordic religion in the US takes the form of Heathenry, or Norse Paganism. Ranging from formal organizations like Asatru to eclectic mixes of Norse lore and Wiccan practice, Heathenry is a dynamic construction of Nordic religious and cultural identity in the midst of an increasingly ethnically pluralistic society. The present article provides ethnographic sketches of Heathen paths in Minnesota—a state notable for its large historically Scandinavian/Germanic cultural makeup—and explores how Heathenry is a way for Minnesotans to re-identify and redefine Nordic culture and identity in American terms.
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7. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Ringo Ringvee

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The present paper surveys the NRMs and New Spirituality/New Age (NS/NA) that have arrived and/or emerged in Estonia after the collapse on the Soviet Union. During the Soviet period, Estonia became a spiritual center for some of the NRMs operating in the Soviet Union. At the same time, the esoteric and spiritual scene during that period laid foundations for the acceptance of the NS/NA in present day Estonia. The discussion focuses on general trends concerning the NRM and NS/NA in contemporary Estonia, and also on responses from state, society, media, and mainstream religions to the NRM and NS/NA.
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book reviews
8. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Ken Chitwood

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9. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Carole M. Cusack Orcid-ID

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10. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Bernard Doherty

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11. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Peter G. Friedlander

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12. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Alexandros Sakellariou

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13. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 2
Ethan Doyle White

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introduction
14. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Shai Feraro

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articles
15. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Shai Feraro

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In this article I intend to analyze the processes by which Pagan identity is formed and expressed by Israeli Pagan women, when attending ‘Women’s Spirituality’ festivals and workshops in Israel. As such it will deal with the complexities of identifying oneself as a (Jewish-born) Pagan in Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people. By doing so it will also hopefully contribute to research on the politics of identity in Israeli New Religious Movements, and more generally – in Israeli society at large. The findings I will present here are part of a wider and ongoing study of the Israeli Pagan community, which is intended to be the first book-length research to focus on Contemporary Paganism in Israel. In this article I will claim that the unique connections between (Jewish) religion and the state in Israel,coupled with the country’s distinct Jewish character, create a situation in which – unlike their North American and Western European sisters – Israeli Pagan women generally find it difficult to express their Pagan identity when participating in Israeli Women’s Spirituality festivals and workshops. This in turn contributes to a consolidation of a Pagan identity separate from the wider Israeli New Age scene.
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16. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Tomer Persico

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It this article I would like to explore the rise of what can be called “the utilitarian self” in the contemporary spirituality arena in Israel. This social reality, which has its origins in the religious field of late nineteenth century America, is in Judaic social circles quite a recent development, and began to play a significant role in contemporary Israeli spirituality only since the 1990’s. I would like to suggest that the proliferation of certain Neo-Kabbalah and Neo-Hasidic movements since the 1990’s is indicative of its rise. By examining these we can better understand the utilitarian self, which lies in their background and which presents thecultural conditions for their popularity.I will therefore present a few typical examples of the utilitarian self’s manifestation in Israel, and will then try to clarify the socio-cultural reasons for its prevalence at this time. Let us start, however, with a description of the subject matter. The utilitarian self, I propose, is a particular hybrid of the Romantic spirit and Enlightenment rationalism, joined together by means of capitalist instrumental reason. It represents the current fascination with finding ways – indeed methods or techniques – which allow one to actualize and exercise her or his “hidden” or “unrealized” capabilities in order to undergo an inner transformation and maximize the external conditions of her or his life.
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17. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
James R. Lewis Orcid-ID

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In 2012, the Church of Scientology’s Mission in Haifa, Israel, defected from the Church and reestablished itself as the independent Dror Center. The precipitatingevent was a critical email sent by high-ranking Scientologist Debbie Cook to her contacts throughout the Scientology world. The core of her critique was that theChurch was in decline – a decline she attributed to policies that deviated from guidelines set forth by Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard. The present paperanalyzes the current legitimation crisis within the Church of Scientology through the twin lenses of the Cook letter and the Haifa schism.
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18. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Einat Ramon

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19. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Galia Sabar Orcid-ID

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20. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 5 > Issue: 1
Yotam Yzraely

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