Consuming Religion in Europe? location:Leuven date:27-28 March 2006
Imagine a Christian community of ‘seekers’ endeavoring to live in a nonconsumer way by adopting a way of life inspired, say, not only by examples taken from Christian tradition but also from 16th century Zen monks (not Western Buddhists), while studying their sources of inspiration thoroughly. They live in frugality, materializing the spiritual riches of their way of life through craft-like production of goods and food, and well-entrenched and established practices of meditation. From the point of view of the individual and collective religious life a problem remains: this community may manage to live a life far removed from the dangers of consumerist “fluidity and vagueness in allegiances” and “floating symbols”, but what with the question of how to integrate particular subcultures into the religious tradition they supposedly still wish to identify with? Two sets of practices, symbols and beliefs have been integrated in their religious lives, but can they identify with either of them? And will they be identified as such? Moreover, analogous examples seem to be already present while remaining within the boundaries of Christian religion. Fragmentation appears here as a problem independent from but analogous to the logic of consumption.