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date: 17 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the concept of invention and applies it to the study of New Religious Movements (NRMs). Invention plays a part in all religions and is linked to other conceptual lenses including syncretism and legitimation. Yet invention is more readily detected in contemporary phenomena (so-called “invented,” “hyper-real,” or “fiction-based” religions), which either eschew, or significantly modify, the appeals to authority, antiquity, and divine revelation that traditionally accompany the establishment of a new faith. The religions referred to in this chapter (including Discordianism, the Church of All Worlds, and Jediism) are distinctively “new new” religions, appearing from the mid-twentieth century, and gaining momentum in the deregulated spiritual market of the twenty-first century West. Overt religious invention has mainstreamed in the Western society, as popular culture, individualism and consumerism combine to facilitate the cultivation of personal spiritualities, and the investment of ephemeral entertainments with ultimate significance and meaning.

Keywords: invention, legitimation, fiction-based religions, invented religions, hyper-real religions, ‘new new’ religions, popular culture, imagination, creativity

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