Alternative Spiritualities, New Religions, and The Reenchantment of the West

Christopher Partridge

in The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780195369649
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Alternative Spiritualities, New Religions, and The Reenchantment of the West


This article asks if the West is witnessing a thoroughgoing erosion of belief in the supernatural. Is the loss of faith in otherworldly forces a linear, one-way, inevitable decline, or are there reasons to believe in the reemergence of religion in the West? On the other hand, if there is evidence indicating that the West is witnessing a gradual “sacralization,” should we abandon notions of “secularization?” Or are we in the midst of a much more complex process in which accurate analysis demands that we take account of both secularization and sacralization, disenchantment and reenchantment? It is argued that while disenchantment is ubiquitously apparent in the West, the forces of secularization have never quite been able to stifle the shoots of religion. Although traditional forms of institutional religion have been seriously damaged and do not seem to be able to arrest the process of erosion, cracks are appearing in the disenchanted landscape and new forms of significant spiritual life are emerging.

Keywords: Western secularization; religious belief; sacralization; spiritual life; supernatural

Article.  13516 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Alternative Belief Systems

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