POSSAMAI, Adam (University of Western Sydney, Australia), "Consuming Religions" Journal of Consumer Culture, July 2002.

by Robert Brow  (www.brow.on.ca)

Without being able to read the original article, I gather second-hand that Possamai draws our attention to three new forms of religion that impact the business world. . All three have a monistic (as opposed to a theistic) world-view. Aquarians look for personal growth through astrology. Presentists (including Scientologists) seek to heal themselves by psychological techniques. Wiccans want to make things happen by the rituals of the ancient mother goddess religion..

Ten years ago, when I offered a method of classifying the explanations given by people of various religions and ideologies, I began with the person's ultimate goal (summum bonum). There seemed to be four options: a theistic heaven, a monistic oneness, a personal state in this life, and a social state in this life (God of Many Names, 1993 web publication, chapters 2 & 3). Evidently the three groups identified by Possamai fit under the goal of a personal state in this life.

When I wrote it seemed that the main ways of salvation pursued under that heading in the student world were Zen Buddhism, Existentialism, and Taoism (Naturalism). Frankly I did not imagine astrology, scientology, and mother goddess religion would become major contenders among the religions of the world. I should have known better from William J. Petersen's Those Curious New Cults, New Canaan, Connecticut: Keats publishing, 1973.

Possamai is interested in how these forms of religion influence the marketing of "books, crafts, jewelry, conventions, classes, crystals, and posters." Once new disciples are drawn into the fellowship of a new religion, there is a huge demand for explanatory materials, course books, videos, etc. Soon people begin to offer to others the good news of what is believed and practiced. I call these personal explanations explanatory models.

I am grateful to Adam Assamai for reminding me that these three new religions have come into prominence, and I should try to understand their inner logic with as much sympathy as I can muster. That is not easy because nothing is explained until you begin directing your life by astrology. Scientology requires hefty payments for the training. And you don't become a Wiccan without becoming a witch or a warlock.

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