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By and large, today’s new cults of and for the Remixed are what I will call “intuitional religions.” By this, I mean that their sense of meaning is based in narratives that simultaneously reject clear-cut creedal metaphysical doctrines and institutional hierarchies and place the locus of authority on people’s experiential emotions, what you might call gut instinct. Society, institutions, credited authorities, experts, expectations, rules of conduct—all these are generally treated not just as irrelevant, but as sources of active evil.

Isabella Burton Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World

The North American religious landscape is being battered by news that the “nones” are steadily increasing and traditional religions are shrinking. Often, this growing group of “nones” are equated with people who don’t believe, perhaps even hardcore secularists who hate all things religious.

Burton, however, points out that the “nones,” while often rejecting religion, are at the same time often profoundly spiritual. They continue to seek meaning, purpose, community, and ritual. What they are rejecting is prescribed religion. What they are turning to is bespoke religion—creating their faith journey, pulling together different parts of different faiths, ideas, etc., to create something true to who they are (for more in this conversation, see The Death of Hope: Strange Rites)

As Burton begins her examination of the “nones,” she notes the need to recognize a larger group of people she calls the Remixed (See also Secular Surge: A New Fault Line in American Politics). The Remixed contains three groups.

The first group is the SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious-about 27% of the U.S. population; Burton does not give stats on Canada). Interestingly, a good portion of this group identifies as being part of a traditional faith, but the connection is mainly tangential to their life. Burton points out that

“their primary sources of what we might call meaning-making, their sense of purpose, their source of wonder at the world, come from outside their religious traditions.”

For this group, one of the main places they find significant spiritual experiences is through music. “71% of spiritual Americans reported having been inspired or moved by a piece of music or a song.”

The second group in the Remixed is the “faithful nones.” They are about 18% of the U.S. population (by contrast, evangelicals are about 15% of the U.S. population). They are similar to the SBNR group, except they do not identify as being part of a religious community in any way. This means they don’t look to religious communities for community, care, belief, etc. Instead, they seek other forms of having these needs fulfilled.

The third group in the Remixed are the religious hybrids (we might call them syncretists). This group takes beliefs, ideas, and practices from several different groups and forms them into a personalized faith. Interestingly, this group includes many who call themselves Christian but have beliefs in such things as reincarnation.

Sociologists Stef Aupers and Dick Houtman, likewise, wrote in 2007 of the rise of “bricolage” religion, inextricably connected to modern consumer capitalism and the room it has created for a robust spiritual marketplace. The “erosion of the Christian monopoly,” they write, has created a “market” where “religious consumers construct strictly personal packages of meaning, based on individual tastes and preferences.”

Strange Rites

Overall, the Remixed group is over 50% of the U.S. - which means we have remixed people living in our neighborhoods and likely as members of our congregations.

As you survey your community, where do you see the Remixed? How is your congregation engaging the different groups within the Remixed? How are you navigating people whose spirituality sees institutionalized religion as oppressive and perhaps even evil? How are you engaging the Remixed in your congregation?



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