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Reimagined Communities

from: http://dornsife.usc.edu

Increasingly, Americans are choosing not to identify with a particular religious tradition. Between 2007 and 2014, this “none of the above” portion of the population increased from 16 to 23 percent.* Fully one-third of young adults adhere to no religion.

But this does not mean that spirituality and religion is disappearing; rather, it is re-forming into new practices and beliefs.

Brie Loskota, executive director of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, writes: “We are in a period of flux, a period of rapid and continuous change, where the old order is being torn down, where people are disaffiliating from groups, and where institutional life is being stressed and stretched.”

Various groups (both irreligious and religious) as communities are being “reimagined” to respond to this period of flux.

“Innovation means the reassembling of different things to meet contemporary challenges. We see innovation as the repurposing, rediscovering, recombining of what already exists, sometimes bringing those things from one group into another, and infusing those things with new meaning and relevance. It also means being open to trying out something other than what has always been done, even if it means pushing the boundaries of the current acceptable orthodoxy. We see innovation as a form of creative problem solving.”

Loskota has concluded that “reimagined communities are:

  1. Bounded: While they are innovating and pushing boundaries, they are constrained by forms, traditions or ways of operating.
  2. Authentic: Communities ground truth not in abstract concepts but in ideas with internal and intuitive resonance.
  3. Embedded: These groups are committed to a particular place and want to make a difference there. Where these groups are located is highly significant.
  4. Pollinating: These communities are interested in spreading ideas rather than establishing institutions.  They are not interested in institutional life itself. In fact, many of them are very organic: they live, they grow and they decease.
  5. Embodied: The groups are interested in the somatic or bodily experience because of the belief that knowledge and value is gained from the somatic.
  6. Activated: These communities are not just congregations with ideas. They enact their vision for a better world and make things happen.
  7. Empathetic: Actions to enact change are grounded in empathy, care and compassion, often for marginalized people.
  8. Networked: These communities are strongly connected within and across traditions.
  9. Enfranchised: These groups do not have a strict hierarchy. Instead, they welcome ideas from all sides.
  10. Adaptive: These communities respond to a new social challenges and opportunities with sense of possibility, rather than a sense of fear.

Religion serves as a window into what else is happening around the globe, a way to see the changes taking place in culture, work, politics and other ways that people organize their lives.”