According to Cimino and Lattin’s Shopping for Faith: American Religion in the New Millennium, there seem to be many changes religion in the United States will face. Religion in America as we used to view it will shift from being more traditional to being more experiential and will also use consumerism to grow and flourish. One of the main differences will be the shift from concentration on religious doctrine to that of religious and spiritual experience. Worship will also change in the new millennium, along with new religious movements that will grow at a rapid rate.
The biggest change to American religion in the new millennium will be the regarding religious doctrine. Traditionally, churches follow their own set of rules, code creed and cultus, or a religious doctrine. In the future Cimino and Lattin suggest that religious doctrine will become less relevant as experiential elements of religion and spirituality will become more important. Modern emphasis on choice and individualism are going to be the driving force that will lead to this change. While focusing on the experience of the religion, rather than the religious doctrine, an individual can gain a better understanding of the religion. This “hands on” approach will help the individual feel more comfortable and be able to better judge if the religion is right for them. It can also provide a whole new experience for one who is already following the religious doctrine of their religion.
An example of this that Cimino and Lattin point out in their book deals with experience and spirituality rather than moral, social, or doctrinal sides of a religion (p. 19). Although not necessarily showing institutional growth, Buddhism attracts a growing number of individuals seeking a more mystical approach to religion. This shows that people are experimenting with Buddhist books, techniques, and such, but not necessarily becoming a Buddhist themselves by going to the local Zen center. Other examples that show a leaning towards experience are charismatic forms of Christianity such as Pentecostalism. They emphasis direct encounter with the Holy Spirit with a lackadaisical emphasis on religious doctrine.
Not only in churches or other religious establishments will experience see a rise in popularity, but in our everyday lives. According to Cimino and Lattin, the work place will see more and more hands on, or religious elements prosper. With today’s modern world, people often get stressed out at work. Cimino and Lattin suggest that more and more corporations will try to address the emotional and spiritual needs of employees. Many corporations have already started to have “workplace spirituality” to help employees balance their work and their personal lives. Most of the spirituality in the workplace often involves mediation or small groups that deal with spiritual issues. As employees find others with similar problems and interests, they begin to feel more comfortable with their environment and their co-workers. Most workplaces however, try to avoid calling it strictly religious, while trying not to offend any one religion, or favor any one to an extent.
Another way in which experience will flourish in the new millennium is through medicine. Healing through spirituality, or holistic health, seems to be gaining popularity as the years go on. Going mainstream in the 1980s, Pollster George Gallup predicts that healing will be the major theme of the religious future (p. 44). With the rise of medical costs, people may start to look to spirituality and religion for a cost-effective alternative. Studies have actually shown that prayer and congregational attendance have beneficial effects to healing, while mediation and prayer have a greater effect (p. 45) The relaxation effect of chanting or repeating prayers often helps in treatment of heart disease, pain, and infertility (p. 45). While these acts may prove to be beneficial, they may not be a practical substitute...
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