Redefining Community: Religion of the Future

Simply put, what is true of the internet -- that it is becoming increasingly fractured and personalized -- is also becoming true of religion. Without territorial borders to constrain the meaning and composition of community, religion has become more and more personalized, while religious communities have fractured into smaller and smaller "micro-communities," each bound together by a set of post-materialist values that cannot be contained within any geographic boundaries.

Hence, when I say that people are becoming more religious, it bears keeping in mind that what we mean by "religion" is itself changing. But this should not come as a surprise. All religions are intricately bound to a specific place and time. Religion, like society in general, is in a constant state of evolution, constantly adapting to the social, political, and technological changes taking place in the world. It is only when religion stops evolving and adapting that it ceases to exist as a significant factor in human societies. And that seems like a very distant prospect indeed.  

Reza Aslan, Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside, is also an author, speaker, and the contributing editor at the Daily Beast. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities, and the Pacific Council on International Policy. Aslan's publications include No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam and How to Win a Cosmic War (published in paperback as Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in a Globalized Age), and he is the editor of an upcoming anthology from Norton titled Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East. Visit his site at http://www.rezaaslan.com/index.html.

9/6/2010 4:00:00 AM
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