From “Comparative Mysticism” to “New Age Spirituality”

Steven J. Sutcliffe

in Teaching Mysticism

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199751198
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918782 | DOI:

Series: AAR Teaching Religious Studies Series

From “Comparative Mysticism” to “New Age Spirituality”

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The “new age” has been both difficult to specify and tricky to theorize in the standard terms of the academic study of religion. This chapter begins by looking at how elements of the new age stack up with the limited model of a rationalized bureaucratic organization supplied by the “world religions” taxonomy. It further locates the new age in the discursive drift from mysticism to spirituality. It then provides a series of reflections on twists and turns of evolving syllabi on the new age. A general line of development can be traced: from presenting a phenomenological description and interpretation of, first, comparative mysticism and latterly new age spirituality based in biographies, practices, and beliefs, to an increasingly theoretical interest in accounting for the structure and production of new age formations as a contribution to comparative problems in the study of religion. Several pedagogical strategies are discussed.

Keywords: New Age spirituality; comparative mysticism; biographies; practices; beliefs

Chapter.  8245 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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