EGR/MB: You've got tenure!
Oct 08, 2005 22:07 PDT
As usual, there's more of this at the site. I'd write more but I'm
recovering from California.
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face="Trebuchet MS">NRMs are New Religious Movements. Add it to your
ever growing list of
acronyms. Chances are good you're going to hear it again. And again.
The study of NRMs is a new subcategory in the standard industrial
classification of religious studies -- which is why
the acronym is beginning to take on the quality of yet another
sanctified buzzword. It is a common, though hugely naive belief that
academic social scientists study phenomena worthy of... well, study.
But sometimes they run out of things to write about. Then it's time to
cook up a whole new subfield. Voila! New Religious Movements.
This is not to say that the flaky
bullshit that passes for
"spirituality" today should not be studied. I'm grateful to the many
academics who are researching and writing about such fascinating
delusions. The problem that arises, however, is that old standby:
academic politics. Degrees and tenure are hard to come by in a field
that defines itself as the study of Total Bullshit -- though Lord
knows, there are plenty of fields that qualify already.
The insidious effect of the
academic study of NRMs is that
there is a strong tendency of such studies to legitimize the phenomena
under scrutiny. Critical judgment is often dispensed with in a rush to
validate these movements as equal in importance to historical religions
such as Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity. And who knows?
Perhaps it's just a matter of few millennia before billions of people
are being "cleared" in Scientology temples or booking passage on the
Second Coming of Hale-Bopp. Me, I'm content to wait a couple thousand
years before pronouncing these various exercises in low-IQ
irrationality the saving grace of the 21st century.
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