Awakening Community: The Need to Reinvent the Social Dimension of Religion

By S. Francesca L. Po.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

There is something within our current worldview that is perpetuating the crises of the modern world. Using Sean Kelly’s comprehensive explication of the patterns of American history in Coming Home, we recognize the location of our current condition—we are within the sixth cycle of repeating triphasic patterns in our history. This triphaic model is: (1) identity, (2) differentiation, and (3) integration, and can be found embedded in the myths of our civilization and in the depths of our psyches, demonstrated by both Carl Jung and Kelly. Robert Wuthnow adds to this discussion by presenting how spirituality has evolved in modern American society, echoing the first two phases of the triphasic model. Claude Fischer and Michael Hout’s demographic research in the United States present the specific nature in which the spirituality described in Wuthnow’s offering is developing. We realize in Fischer and Hout’s findings that there is a continued presence of religious beliefs despite the decline in religious affiliation, but along with the decline in religious preference is also a decrease in civic engagement. Finally, using the theory of Ninian Smart on the elements of what creates worldviews, we can deduce the missing piece to our puzzle—the sixth cycle needs the social dimension of religion in order to reach its final integration phase. In order to solve the problems of our time, we need to creatively reintegrate the social dimension of religion, the concept of community, into our current worldview.

Keywords: Community, Differentiation, Fischer, Hout, Identity, Integration, Jung, Kelly, Religion, Sixth Cycle, Smart, Social Dimension, Spirituality, Triphasic Model, Worldview, Wuthnow

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.47-56. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 714.675KB).

S. Francesca L. Po

Graduate Student, Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness, California Institute of Integral Studies, Berkeley, CA, USA

Ms. Po is an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco in the departments of theology and religious studies, and Philippine studies. She is also a current graduate student in the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She has studied religious studies and music at the University of California at Berkeley, and theology and music at the University of Nottingham in England. Ms. Po has taught high school-level religious studies and philosophy in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and served in the Peace Corps developing curricula and training teachers under the Education Ministry of Kazakhstan. Her research interests lie in the evolution of consciousness, comparative religion, and the connections between the arts and sciences with spirituality.