01: There has been a growing debate among scholars studying new religious movements over the issue of how objective and disinterested such research has been.
A large part of the current issue of Novo Religio, (October) the journal of new religions, is devoted to this question, particularly looking at the issue of academic integrity in studying NRM’s. The acceptance of support and sponsorship by controversial NRM’s comes under fire, with such critics as Stephen Kent claiming that many of these groups have made a deliberate attempt to gain the endorsements of scholars.
In another article, Massimo Introvigne doubts whether even those who have accepted sponsorship have been strongly swayed in their objectivity.
For more information on this issue, send to: Nova Religio, Seven Bridges Press, LLC, P.O. Box 958, Chappaqua, NY 10514-0958.
02: In recent years there has been talk about the emergence of an Eastern Orthodox brand of fundamentalism.
The current issue of the journal Religion, State and Society (Vol. 26, No. 2) is devoted to the growth of anti-Western and isolationist tendencies within Orthodoxy, particularly in former communist countries. A key subject examined in most of the articles is the Orthodox disenchantment with and often strong opposition to the ecumenical movement, as seen in several Orthodox bodies leaving the World Council of Churches as well as opposition to recent Catholic overtures for church unity.
An article by Vladimir Fedorov makes it clear that the anti-ecumenical attitudes of many Orthodox today is not the result of a change in theology as much as the intensification of views that were suppressed during the communist period when church officials were encouraged by their governments to participate in ecumenical activities (although church leaders also desired such outside contact).
Fedorov and other contributors claim that “ecumenism” is used as a code word for Orthodox attacks on the West, Zionism, freemasonry, Catholicism, as well as the growth of evangelical and new religious movements active in formerly communist lands.
For more on this issue, send to: Religion, State and Society, Keston Institute, 4 Park Town, Oxford OX2 6SH, UK.
03: Last month we mentioned that readers can get a 20 percent discount on the book, Shopping for Faith: American Religion in the New Millennium by RW‘s editor and Don Lattin.
While that issue of RW was at press, the publisher Jossey-Bass raised the discount to 30 percent off the original $25 price. Anyone who enjoys RW, will want to read the book, since it gives extended treatment to many of the trends regularly digested in the newsletter. Each copy of the book comes with a CD-ROM that links readers from discussions in the text to related sites on the Worldwide Web — from Mother Angelica’s conservative Catholic web site to the Buddhist Sokka Gakkai’s site.
The book can be ordered from Jossey-Bass’s web site, which is: www.josseybass.com or by phone:(888) 378-2537.
Since this discount is for RW readers, remember to use the special code S9831 when ordering.