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By Christopher Partridge / T&T Clark / 2004
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The Re-Enchantment of the West considers the emergent spirituality in the contemporary West. It focuses on the nature, evolution and significance of new forms of religion and alternative spiritualities, analyzing the way this new spirituality is explored, why it is explored, and who explores it.
The Re-Enchantment of the West provides the theoretical background and guides the reader through some of the principal debates. After an overview of the secularization thesis – which argues that the West is becoming increasingly disenchanted – the book turns to the sociological analysis of new religions and alternative spiritualities. Particular attention is given to the ideas of the sociologist of religion Ernst Troeltsch (especially his enigmatic analysis of the emergence mystical religion) which presciently provides helpful insights into understanding the contemporary alternative religious milieu. Against sociologists such as Bryan Wilson and Steve Bruce, Partridge argues that, rather than being insignificant, new forms of spirituality are actually proving to be a significant part of Western re-enchantment. The Re-Enchantment of the West also constructs a general theory of the re-enchantment of the West.
…Partridge’s assessment rings true and offers some profound insights for contemporary Christian apologists seeking to minister to a paganized, post-Christian culture.
—Michael Heiser, Logos Bible Software
This is an important book in several respects. One of its particular strengths is its focus on how contemporary media and popular culture have played an important role in the popularization of these alternative spiritualities... Partridge's contribution to this discussion is original and well argued. The book works well as an introduction to sociological debates for students new to this area, but also offers a distinctive, well-argued perspective on these. The book should also attract significant interest amongst those involved in exploring the nature of missiology for Western culture....The book deserves to be a focus for ongoing debate.
—Gordon Lynch, Expository Times
What do Genesis P-Orridge, Swami Vivekananda, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and George Harrison have in common? According to this fascinating book, they (and many others) have been instrumental in the re-enchantment of the West. Recommended for upper-level undergraduate studies and beyond, Partridge follows the trajectory of Western culture from enchantment to disenchantment/secularization, and beyond… this book is an essential tool for understanding today’s Western spiritual milieu.
—Jonathan W. Rice
Chris Partridge argues that Western Society is permeated by a broad "occulture" by which he means a reservoir of ideas, beliefs, theories and practices to which new religions, unorthodox spiritualities, film and popular music all draw attention. This re-enchantment of the West should not be seen as a superficial secondary development in the shadow of Christianity. In many ways it is a religious phenomenon in its own right. Partridge's arguments in this regard are well put and I warmly welcome this timely book.
—Mikael Rothstein, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Christopher Partridge is Professor of Contemporary Religion at University College Chester. His research and writing focuses on Western alternative spiritualities and popular culture.