Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Religious Journey Leads to Wicca: Discusses Spiritual Transition in Reaction to Fundamentalism

The has an interesting article posted that describes the spiritual journey of Don Larsen (seated on the right in the photo, copyright Camera-Works), a one-time Pentecostal Army chaplain. Through the article, titled "For Gods and Country," and an online video clip, we learn of Larsen's journey from Messianic Jewish Rabbi to Christian Pentecostalism to Wicca. In the video Larsen describes the motivating experiences behind the latter part of this journey in his experiences with sectarian violence among Muslims in Iraq. This served as a reminder of the history of violence among various fundamentalist expressions of religions. Larsen does not fault Islam, but instead takes exception to fundamentalist expressions of all religions.

In addition to sharing his journey, Larsen makes the following quotation worthy of reflection by Christians:

You can't intellectually talk about witchcraft. You gotta show up," he says. "What Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and a lot of us universalists think is, people need the magical side, the mythological side, of religion.

"We don't need more Calvinist rationalizing. We need mystery. We need horizons. We need journeys."

The article goes on to share statistics about the growth of Wicca as it scratches the itch of human yearning for the magical:

Something about Wicca clearly fills a niche. According to the American Religious Identification Survey, a widely respected tally, the number of Wiccans in the United States rose 17-fold -- from 8,000 to 134,000 -- between 1990 and 2001.

While transitions from one religion to another, and a switch as dramatic as the journey Larsen experienced are relatively uncommon, the increasing religious pluralism of America combined with consumerist approaches to religious identity and consumption might make such journeys more common in the future.

A printable version of the article can be found here, but the reader may need to register with the web page (its free) in order to view the article in its entirety.

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