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introduction

1. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Sean E. Currie

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articles

2. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Malcolm Haddon

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The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON, or the Hare Krishna movement) has generally been studied as a Western new religious movement (NRM) with a sociological genesis in the 1960s American counterculture. At the same time, ISKCON's claim to a genealogical heritage in the venerable Bengali Vaisnava tradition in India has been supported by many NRM scholars. The question concerning ISKCON's origins – Indian or American, old or new – has had political, legal and sectarian consequences throughout the life of the movement. This article revisits the question of ISKCON's cultural genesis byproviding a brief overview of the movement's cross-cultural development from the 1960s to the present. It shows how the discovery of Gaudiya Vaisnavism by Western Krishna converts has been a gradual, often tense, yet highly productive process of cross-cultural encounter and theological exchange, ultimately leading to the sectarian affirmation of ISKCON's distinct religious identity over and against the claims of the Indian tradition.
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3. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Kjersti Hellesøy

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The Church of Scientology’s 1982 Mission Holders’ Conference is a pivotal event for understanding the schisms the Church of Scientology (CoS) experienced in subsequent years. As with most other schisms, it is relatively easy to point to a specific incident that triggered the split. However, the more significant factors for understanding the schism are less apparent, rooted in the structure of the organization. The analysis in this paper will examine how the context in which the conference took place was decisive for subsequent schisms. With the founder and leader of CoS, L. Ron Hubbard, out of the scene, access to means of legitimation shifted from one (Hubbard) to many, something that facilitated the exit of so many otherwise dedicated Scientologist. Moreover, I will argue thatthere are certain mechanisms within Scientology which give movement leaders tools that can be used to compel dissidents into either silence or defection. The way in which Church leaders applied these tools against their own members set in motion disenchantment with CoS that later spawned schisms. Had the situation been handled with more care, fewer people would have defected.
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4. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Anne Kalvig

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This article focuses on neo-shamans in a “medialized” setting. Using the Norwegian celebrity shaman and medium Gro-Helen Tørum, other mediapractitioners from media and my own field-work as examples, I focus on the case of female shamans in particular. They often appear as mediums and clairvoyants in addition to their role as shamans, and demonstrate various ways of relating to or employing the “ethnicity” of shamanism as a way of widening their scope of action. Their staging of themselves as shamans or “users of shamanistic techniques” gives clues to understanding the interplays of popular religion and spirituality, tradition, media, and gender.
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5. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Jane Skjoldli

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The Jesus People movement’s influence on Christian music and charismatic practices was profound. Alongside the interdenominational musical reformation came changes in how the charismata—God’s spiritual gifts to Christians—were performed and celebrated in church services. Embraced at first as bodily manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s presence, controversies arose over time concerning what should count as charismata and how central these practices ought to be in church services. This article explores three such controversies, how they were handled by church leaders and how they would come to shape the Calvary Chapel and Vineyard movements’ denominational identities.
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6. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Inga B. Tøllefsen

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This article addresses controversies in Transcendental Meditation (TM) and its history in the West (and especially in North America), chronicling periods of less or more mainstreaming on TM’s part – moving from world peace and psychedelics in the Beatles era to science as a way of attracting the ‘Average Joanna’ practitioner in later years. Furthermore, as schisms in New Religious Movements (NRMs) tend to be controversial, I examine the Robin Carlsen case and, notably, that of the Art of Living Foundation (AoL) schism. AoL has become a global NRM in a few years. In addition to exploring the likelihood of schisms from AoL, I also assess controversial (and non-controversial) interactions between AoL, TM and the mass media.
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7. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Erik A. W. Östling Orcid-ID

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This essay will discuss the religious creation of the Frenchman Claude Vorilhon, currently known as his holiness Raël. Following an alleged encounter with an extraterrestrial in 1973 he founded the Raëlian religion. The main tenets of his religion are the notions that humankind is the creation of a group of extraterrestrial scientists; that bodily sensuality and sexuality is something positive; that immortality can be achieved through scientific means; and that if we prove ourselves worthy and rid our world of all destructive tendencies we will inherit the knowledge of our creators and become able to continue the creative cycle by creating life elsewhere in the cosmos. The present article will situate this religion within the context of ancient astronaut theories.
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book reviews

8. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Ethan Doyle White

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9. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Margaret Gouin

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10. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Alexandros Sakellariou

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11. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Brad Eden

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12. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Lori Lee Oates

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13. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Charlotte Moore

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14. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 2
Brad Eden

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introduction

15. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Carole M. Cusack Orcid-ID

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articles

16. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Paul Morris

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Primary schools in New Zealand has been officially secular since 1877 and yet for the last 130 years Christian religious education and instruction, by means of a legal technicality, has been a feature of the country’s publically-funded education. In this article the origins of this technicality and the debates over whether religious education should be funded from the public purse are examined in the light of changing social realities, in particular, biculturalism and the increasing recognition of New Zealand as a multicultural and multi-religious society, with a growing number of those who claim “no religion”. The teaching of Christian formation without explicit, free and informed consent raises concerns about breaches of human rights and anxieties about potentially coercive missionary activities. It is argued that the historical legacy of uncertainty and lack of clarity about religious education needs to be openly acknowledged in order to ensure a transparent and productive public debate on the teaching of, and about, religion, in schools that reflects the new diversities.
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17. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Bernard Doherty

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Since September 12 2005 the Christian sect known as the Exclusive Brethren have catapulted from relative obscurity to front-page newspaper reports, prime-time television coverage, and the subject of numerous parliamentary debates in Australia. The reasons for this, however, are far more complex than mainstream media reports suggest. Using insights from contextual constructionist theory this article traces the social construction of what it calls the ‘Brethren Cult Controversy’ from its roots in political controversies over the period between 2004 and 2007 to more recent controversies over Brethren education funding, Brethren development siting, and the charitable status of minority religious groups. I argue that, among other reasons, the Brethren’s rise to prominence isdirectly related to the socio-political milieu of Howard-era Australia (1996-2007) and the Brethren’s contemporaneous reduction of their ‘sectarian tension’ with mainstream Australian culture. This article also analyses the popular perception of the ‘Brethren threat’ in mainstream Australian public discourse and the ways in which the media have framed the ‘Brethren Cult Controversy’ as a social problem.
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18. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Malcolm Haddon

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Drawing on ethnographic research carried out with Hare Krishna devotees in Sydney, Australia, this article examines the relationship between rhetoric and belief in Hare Krishna religious practice. The ethnography explores how doctrinal belief is revealed and consolidated for the religious neophyte in contexts of religious instruction and scriptural pedagogy, in formal and informal reading practices, and in conversant interaction with rhetorically accomplished others. The process of learning and rehearsing movement rhetoric is presented here as a creative process of skill development, the mastery of rhetorical technique being one of the essential aptitudes of the advanced religious practitioner. Even where religious pedagogy demands rote learning or faithful repetition, the author argues, neophytes are far from passive recipients in this learning process, but are rather engaged in a highly creative practice of self-transformation. As rhetorical and citational techniques are learned, rehearsed, and continually refined, they emerge in this account as a primary instrument for effecting the realisation of belief and the religious transformation of the self.
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19. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Raphael Lataster

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During the twentieth century, the power of traditional religion (that is, Christianity) in the West has gradually declined. In the wake of the Enlightenment, personal experience rather than institutional dogma began to dictate individual religiosity, or lack thereof. Pluralism and religious diversity have resulted in a spiritual marketplace that diminishes the claims to authority of particular religions. Further, the emergence of the New Atheists demonstrates that in the twenty-first century West, criticising, attacking, and mocking religion has become acceptable, perhaps even fashionable. In recent decades however, traditional religionhas attempted to re-establish itself. One intriguing aspect of this is an intellectual battle being waged by a more scientific and philosophically sophisticated group of believers, herein dubbed the New Theologians. Largely influenced by the work of esteemed Christian philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, these knowledgeable adherents attempt to convince scholarship, and the general public, that belief in God is rational; and even that God’s existence can be proven. This article traces the origins and considers the arguments of the New Theologians, and argues that the very existence of the New Theologians points to the dominance of the rational model, further confirming the decline of traditional religion in the West.This article also touches on the New Atheists, briefly considering such issues as what makes a non-believer a ‘New Atheist’, and whether these vocal naturalists have been misrepresented. The interactions of the New Theologians and New Atheists with mainstream Western society are examined, and it is found that the possible intellectual debate that the prominence of the two groups might engender does not really exist. The New Theologians offer antique and traditional arguments for the existence of God, the New Atheists tend not to engage directly and competently with the arguments, and both sides make ample use of rhetoric and appeal to their audience’s emotions and lack of knowledge about the subject. It is further found that New Theologians and New Atheists may have a significant impact on perceptions of scholarship about religion (and irreligion) in their communities, as they attract larger audiences than their more scholarly counterparts in the academy.
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20. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review: Volume > 4 > Issue: 1
Johanna J. M. Petsche

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Between 1919 and 1924 Armenian-Greek spiritual teacher G. I. Gurdjieff (c.1866-1949) and his devoted Ukrainian pupil Thomas de Hartmann (1885-1956), two men of utterly distinct characters, backgrounds, and musical abilities, composed music to accompany Gurdjieff’s ‘Movements’ or sacred dances. In following years they went on to compose more music for other purposes. This article attempts to establish basic academic groundwork on the music for Gurdjieff’s Movements. It assesses the unique process of its composition, examines the sources and styles of the music, and analyses the various ways in which the music interacts with the physical gestures of the Movements. It also considers the orchestrations of this music, and the recordings and sheet music that have been released both publicly and privately. The distinctive role of the music in Movements classes and its significance in light of Gurdjieff’s teaching will also be discussed. Finally, as Gurdjieff and de Hartmann worked together on music to accompany Gurdjieff’s ballet The Struggle of the Magicians in the same period as their music for Movements, there will be an exploration of the ballet and its music.
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