Deliberate Heresies: New Religious Myths and Rituals as Critiques
This chapter argues that myth and ritual in NRMs are oppositional in nature, challenging the status quo with “deliberate heresies”. Examples from the Rajneesh, The Family, the Raelians, Unificationism, and others illustrate the spontaneous, improvisational “concocted” quality of NRM myths and rituals since their founder-prophets are myth-makers. The research on myth and ritual conducted by scholars in new religious studies is surveyed, and the various theoretical and disciplinary approaches to understanding the meaning and function of these two forms of religious expression in established traditions are outlined. Finally, practical teaching exercises designed to help students research NRMs and understand the qualities and function of myth and ritual are proposed.
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