In part 1 of this series of posts, I mentioned that there is a growing phenomenon called SBNR; Spiritual But Not Religious and this group could be here to stay. Before getting into the specifics, I wanted to come to a common understanding that almost all religions change from where they started. In this post, I would like to take an example of a made-up religion to walk through the 7 stages of transformation that are typical to most religions.
Stage 1: Broken Social Order
Let’s say there was a religion called “Flatism” whose core tenet of faith was a flat earth. It required its followers, “Flatists” to believe that the earth was flat and follow some rites and rituals that aligned with this belief. These rites and rituals prop up a social order that is somehow broken. Maybe this social order restricts people to not venture out of their village and puts a fear in their minds that they will fall off the edge of the earth if they venture out. It maybe one or many such fears that cause a small group of folks to hold sway over a large majority and in some ways even to oppress the majority. This is a broken social order.
Stage 2: Arrival of a visionary leader
A visionary leader arrives at the scene who figures out the falsehood in the current belief system. The leader also has a magical tool that shows the falsity of the current belief. Initially, not many people follow the leader but after a few years, the leader has enough followers and establishes a new way of life based. The new way of life is now called “Roundism” based on a universal truth that the earth is round.
Stage 3: A new social order
The magical tool/s that the leader utilizes help Roundism establish some universal truths. The old social order is replaced by a new way of life. Folks see the intrinsic advantages of Roundism and join it in droves. While Roundism is gaining supporters, Flatism goes underground.
Stage 4: An underground movement
Even though Flatism is overthrown, a small group of Flatists who greatly benefited from Flatism, become Roundists but stay Flatists at heart. Their hypocritical approach is not that uncommon. (Remember the character from the movie Matrix who gets back into the matrix because of his love for a good steak). So, an underground movement comes to life with an objective of bringing back the rites and rituals from Flatism but under the garb of Roundism.
Stage 5: Standardization of Corruption
As long as the tool/s of truth are well maintained by the leader and the immediate disciples, the truth is easily understandable. After the leader and the disciples are gone, the control and maintenance of the tools is taken over by the hypocritical Flatists. These tools slowly get corrupted to such an extent that they start proving that the earth is flat. This does not go well with the truthful Roundists and so there is a struggle for dominance. Since the underground Flatists are wily and cunning, their machinations are no match for the truth-loving Roundists who eventually get eliminated. To avoid any future flare-ups, the corrupted tools are standardized so that the truth can be kept hidden.
To be continued……
In my next post, I will walk through the remaining two stages and connect these stages with the growing phenomenon called SBNR.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!