Toward a metamodern reading of Spiritual but Not Religious mysticisms
This chapter frames being Spiritual but Not Religious (SBNR) as evidencing a new means of engaging with mysticisms through what has been described as a metamodern epistemic shift. By way of examining how mystical material “performs” in a post-postmodern, secular milieu, it investigates the potential utility of the theoretical category of metamodernism that some are putting forth as a successor to postmodernism. The chapter asks how this new category might help us to both account for shifting levels of normativity around mysticism in contemporary culture and expose a new dimension of the choice to identify as SBNR. It then posits the significance of the relationship between the two as a reflexive construction of spaces of liminality analogous to the mystical encounter itself, which mirror contemporary individuals’ felt experiences: of being in-between, of being neither this nor that, and a sense of being both/and – secular and spiritual. Theorizing of a metamodern sensibility is further applied in addressing the significant roles that pop culture and social media have played as the New Age gave way to the SBNR. This move has paved the way for a cultural narrative of a different sort – one that may offer not only a new angle on universalist (modern) and constructivist (postmodern) cultural readings, but a kind of reconciliation of the two that is consequently uniquely reflective of, and responsive to, contemporary secular spiritualities. Such an analysis aptly culminates in a reconsideration of the oft-cited (and usually pejorative) critique of the social mission and “community” (if any) of being SBNR.