Contemporary Esotericism (Gnostica: Texts and by Egil Asprem

By Egil Asprem

The learn of up to date esoteric discourse has hitherto been a mostly missed a part of the recent educational box of Western esotericism. modern Esotericism presents a huge review and evaluate of the advanced international of Western esoteric suggestion this day. Combining historiographical research with theories and methodologies from the social sciences, the quantity explores new difficulties and provides new chances for the examine of esoterica. modern Esotericism stories the interval because the Nineteen Fifties yet makes a speciality of the final twenty years. the big variety of essays are divided into 4 thematic sections: the intricacies of esoteric appeals to culture; the position of pop culture, glossy verbal exchange applied sciences, and new media in modern esotericism; the influence and impact of esotericism on either non secular and secular arenas; and the hot 'de-marginalization' of the esoteric in either scholarship and society.

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9268. g. Richard H. Roberts, “Body”, 216–21. For the simplification of “the past” in sociological theory, and in particular secularization theory, see Granholm’s article in the present volume. A good example is Steve Bruce’s assessment that most social scientists agree that “modern societies are less religious than traditional ones” (Bruce, Religion in the Modern World, 52). 27 egil asprem and kennet granholm present (and sometimes future), but is very problematic in containing simplified accounts of the past, which are often based on little or no empirical evidence.

The study of esotericism is already – at least purportedly – engaged in a project similar to queer theory, in terms of rethinking binaries in cultural and religious history. Johnston further argues that queering of the discipline might nevertheless be in order, particularly since “gender identity markers … remain resolutely normative/deviant and fixed” in most scholarship on contemporary esotericism. Together, the chapters in this fourth and final part highlight both processes of the esoteric leaving cultural and religious margins in the West, and the benefits perspectives from the study of the esoteric could offer religious studies in general by leaving the margins of academia: Granholm suggests that the development of the study of the esoteric, as well as the growing acceptance of and interest in esotericism by the general public, is an example of “post-­secular” academic and societal trends; Asprem shows that parapsychology does not simply represent an “alien incursion” into science, but instead a development in “elite” scientific discourse, and that even radical atheist spokespersons such as Sam Harris can harbour interest in phenomena which could be termed esoteric; the Indigo Child discourse discussed by Kline has breached the mainstream and connects to broader “sacralizing” discourses of childhood; Frisk’s example of the health centre Hälsogränden shows that esoteric elements peacefully coexist with non-esoteric ones, and are growing in mainstream acceptance; Hanegraaff discusses how practices neglected by scholars have probably had an immensely larger impact on contemporary religion than acknowledged, and how scholarly perspectives need to be modified in order to address this; and Johnston proposes to interrogate the gender biases of esoteric discourse (and its attendant scholarship) to properly “queer the esoteric” and trouble the binary logic of deviancy connected to it.

As above, the focus is not on the esoteric “in itself ”. Instead of stipulating an analytical construct, the focus is on the complex historical processes which have themselves constructed and created the notion of “the esoteric” in Western culture. Import­ ant to this “constructionist” approach are certain polemical processes grounded in the Reformation and the Enlightenment projects, whereby certain phenomena have been marginalized as “rejected knowledge”, and thus become the source for later constructions of “esoteric” and “occult tradition”, and later for the study of esotericism itself.

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