Date: May 7 2013 3:30pm
Location: J.R. Howard Hall 116
Finding Your Box-Top:
Eckankar and the Pacific Northwest
This essay analyzes Eckankar, an international New Age religion, as it fits into the religious landscape of the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Sources cited include original interviews with members of the Eckist community in Portland, Oregon, as well official Eckist literature. The essay is centered around three related arguments: First, that Eckankar’s broad and ardent emphasis on individualism, including a personal experience of divinity, libertarianism, and a highly elastic form of religiosity, runs parallel with general trends in the Pacific Northwest. Second, that “nature religion,” another Northwestern theme, occupies a complex and somewhat paradoxical place within Ecknkar, as it does within other New Age movements. Third, that theories of postmodern religion and rational choice are useful hermeneutic tools for understanding Eckankar and Northwestern religiosity more generally, while secularization theory is less instructive.
LIght refreshments will be served.