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Der Widerschein der Erleuchtung - Rezeptionen fernöstlicher neuer religiöser Bewegungen in der Bundesrepublik seit den 70er Jahren


CERES Palais, room "Ruhrpott" (4.13)

In the 1960s, the religious landscape of Western Germany changed dramatically as result of what has been described as religious crisis (Hugh McLeod). Both, the massive increase of organized denominational Christianity (Protestant Church and Roman-Catholic Church) as well as the changing position of the Churches within society are only two bold illustrations for this. But whether this Church decline led to the arrival and expansion of new forms of religions is still matter of vivid academic discussion.

The workshop "Widerschein der Erleuchtung - Rezeptionen fernöstlicher neuer religiöser Bewegungen in der Bundesrepublik seit den 1970er Jahren" (Reflex of Enlightenment – The Reception of the Asian New Religious Movement in West Germany of the 1970s) is based on the assumption that new forms of religion were massively generated by the reception of imported religious traditions, which themselves were conceived as ‘disruption’ of the existing religious field and had to be somehow dealt with. The focus is on Zen Buddhism, the Hare Krishna movement the Transcendental Meditation and the Bhagwan movement. These movements were partly scandalized and party banalised within the public sphere. The reactions of the Churches oscillated between offering an ‘interreligious dialogue’ and (even fierce) activities of defense. Though politicians especially favored a strong defence against the ‘secret seducers’.

However, it were especially the youth and the pop culture that adpoted these new religious forms. Asian inspired religious movements found not only their links to the subject orientation and inwardness proclaimed by the ‘alternative lifestyle’, but also left traces in the pop music, the arts, and fashion of that time. The questions of how and which elements came to the cultural mainstream by influencing language and symbolic practices is yet to be unanswered. Given that, the workshop is designed to analyze and describe the density and impact of these religious phenomena.

Programme of the workshop (in German only)

Affiliated Persons