Tuesday, March 30, 2010

emerging from? emerging to? nature religions

A few weeks ago I attended the commissioning of chaplains at Flinders University. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get out of my office, to support a friend and to hear the Vice chancellor speaking on the place of chaplaincy in the university strategic plan.

Oasis includes chaplains for a range of groups including Uniting, Lutheran, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Pagan.

Seeing the pagan chaplain being welcomed, made me think of the Australian census results and the fact that between 1996 and 2001, people associated with nature religions (for example Wicca and paganism) grew 140%. While numerically that figure totalled fewer than 25,000 people, that still pretty good growth by anyone’s standards!

Phil Hughes makes the following comment on the data:

“Many of the people who have moved into the nature religions are people who wish to protest against what they have seen as the restrictiveness of Christianity.” (Philip J Hughes, “Religious Trends in Australia,” in Reimagining God and Mission: Perspectives from Australia, 28)


One of the criticisms made of the emerging church is that they are a protest movement, a reaction to something. Hughes essentially places nature religions in the same category – a protest against a patriarchal, nature hating expression of faith.

Really? Is Hughes right? Is that what others are finding in their dialogue with, or experience among, those converting to nature religions?

Posted by steve at 03:13 PM