Atheism and Areligion in the Czech Republic: Unmarked Identities of the Czech Redditsphere

Based on self-declared religious affiliation, the modern Czech Republic is regularly cited as the most areligious country in Europe and one of the least religious countries in the world according to internal and international survey data.[1] When asked, most Czechs choose not to affiliate with, or perhaps affiliate against, a church or religious tradition.[2]

With that said, the Czech Republic, as with most nations, possesses a quite complex religious environment. In some ways it might be characterized by widespread irreligiosity evidenced by unparalleled levels of church absence, while at the same time home to an alternative spiritual milieu resembling that of many Western nations.[3] What is clear however is that the prevailing attitude among Czech natives is one of church avoidance and indifference, if not opposition, toward primarily Christian institutions and their adherents, and a more general concept of “organized religion” and religious people.[4]

To investigate how areligiousness in the Czech Republic manifests itself in the every day life, I conducted Reddit-mediated interviews with self-identified atheist/agnostic and non-identified areligious Czechs. Based on the Redditors’ responses and within the framework of social unmarkedness (described below), three themes emerged: non-identification of nonreligious identity, non-discussion of religious topics, and marking religious people. Overall, the Redditors described their environments as devoid of religion, both in its manifestation in social dialogue among homogenous groups of (assumed) areligious people and in the degree of its relative importance for the Redditors’ self-concept.

Continue reading “Atheism and Areligion in the Czech Republic: Unmarked Identities of the Czech Redditsphere”

Distance Healing: Internet-Age Religious Healing?

Susan Grey[1] is a 73 year old “distance healer.” Operating out of her South Carolina home, she offers a type of alternative therapy that engages her purported metaphysical abilities, which are not limited to face-to-face contact. She defines herself as a “natural born healer, intuitive and empath,” and boasts a menu of therapies for both humans and animals that includes channeling entities, past lifetime Karma healing, Chakra cleansing, and water crystal treatments.

Susan is part of a larger movement[2] of long-range healers with gifts said to include extrasensory perception, medical intuition (the psychic ability to sense information about one’s bodily condition),[3] and energy healing (the ability to treat energy imbalances using “energy-based therapies”).[4] Made possible by modern communication technologies, distance or remote healing allows ailing or “dis-eased”[5] individuals to access their preferred method of care without leaving the comforts of home. Energy therapies have recently ballooned in popularity; one such treatment, Reiki, is the subject of a new TV series on TLC titled, “The Healer.”[6]

Although there are notable differences between distance healing and so-called “faith healing,” it is also reasonable to question in what ways, if any, the two express a similar spiritually-minded anti-establishment fervor, and even potentially dangerous or predatory behavior. This post will examine the underlying influence of certain social movements in shaping modern distance healing, and how its unique historical legacy and esoteric spirituality has led to striking differences between energy healing and Christian Charismatic healing. For this blog post, I will identify energy healing under the category of “New Age” spirituality, a loosely defined umbrella term used to describe many modern North American religious movements that prioritize individual spirituality whose adherents distrust organized religion (and authority more broadly). Continue reading “Distance Healing: Internet-Age Religious Healing?”

Who are the Christian Transhumanists?

Historically, the relationship between science and religion has been rather rocky—to put it delicately. With two millennia of clashes to hark back to, die-hard naturalists and devout theists seem to (for the most part) avoid each other’s company, viewing the two basic philosophies as fundamentally incompatible.

Yet as each side’s collective historical trauma fades more with each new generation, and with the rise of 21st-century-America’s unique cultural landscape, rigidity on both sides may be giving way to a willingness for dialogue, even marriage. An emerging pattern of philosophical syncretism between traditionally scientific and religious disciplines testifies to an increasing shift toward acceptance of scientific thought within religious institutions and, for some, the deification of technological advancement in the “Information Age.”

The Christian Transhumanist movement embraces both sides of this long historical divide.[1] It fuses America’s most deeply-rooted religious tradition and a distinctly modern movement. Superficially, these two philosophies appear at odds, and members of each routinely express negative attitudes toward their counterparts on the other side. And yet, Christian Transhumanism retains more than just a small, fringe following.

Continue reading “Who are the Christian Transhumanists?”