ABSTRACT

Since the mid-twentieth century rapid modernization and technological growth in the western world have brought with them fast-paced consumer societies, where people get caught in a time crunch feeling stressed and burned out. Few people in the developed world have time to relax and appreciate nature, develop personal interests, and improve their mental and spiritual health (Lengfelder and Timothy 2000; Schor 1993). At the same time, for various reasons there has been a wave of dissatisfaction with some aspects of traditional organized religion, resulting in breakaway sects, changes in theological viewpoints, transformations of politico-religious views, and varying levels of adherence (Allitt 2003; Houtman and Mascini 2002). These two factors, the frenetic pace of contemporary life, and varying levels of commitment to traditional religion, have caused people to seek alternative lifestyles and spiritual worldviews, particularly in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, and many other developed countries.