World Religions in the Globalization and Information Age

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Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi state university, Faculty of social and political sciences
The report reviews the challenges in the interrelations of globalization, the information age, and traditional religions, especially the principal varieties of response to globalization as an objective process in the sphere of religions. It can be said that the globalization process has an international character, though due to its fundamental values, it is a western phenomenon; but we have to consider that contribution of Europe is not so big as that of America. And in a sense, Europe itself is under the influence of America, i.e. undergoes the process of westernization. The American interpretation of human rights and personal freedom, the principles of American democracy are more adequate to the new state of affairs. American attitude more rigidly rejects old traditional authorities and privileges than European paternalistic and particularistic attitude. Global values spread easily when traditional cultures are in crisis. Therefore, crisis and degrading of traditional cultures are no less dangerous than globalization. Global values destroy those political ideologies that have some links to religion, therefore, religions that are less politicized, react more adequately to this process. In these circumstances, a new type of globalization emerges – religious globalization. In fact, every religion should claim to be global, but in such cases, “natural religions” are replaced by an “artificial religion” whose claim on globalization is stronger. Thus, the only feature of the new concept – “contemporary global religiousness” – which is explicitly given is deterritorialization of religion. Any religion finds its adherents there where it has never been historically. Pluralism and eclecticism of religious views are met not only in various societies, but even at the level of individual consciousness. It is impossible for man, especially for a believer to remain calm in this situation. Men cannot subdue their protest when their interests are violated. Globalization brings not only positive but also rather painful changes and new problems. Therefore, it should be neither overpraised nor denounced completely. It is a process that unfolds objectively and we are unable to stop it. Nowadays this process prompts us a real program of action. Some sciences try to describe it, philosophy endeavors to understand it, and religion – to perceive and feel it religiously. Thus, religion reveals the most critical attitude to this process. It should also be noted that there is no uniform position to the globalization process either in religion or in society. In this case, it is not ethical when one part of the society (the westernized part) instructs others how they are to believe in God properly. It is not necessary that everybody becomes pro-American; it is desirable and important to make an independent choice within the mosaic variety of cultures. Contemporary scholars think that the problem of influence made on religion by the globalization process is one of the more or less studied and predictable problems. So is the situation abroad. But the situation, in general, remains uncertain. Various religions feeling the influence of globalization, form their own variants (peaceful and not very peaceful) of co-existence with it. Three positions are exposed as the research results: 1). complete or partial tailoring of the globalization process; 2). counter-globalization and criticism and 3). personal alternative; all of them are observed in almost all regions. The first position is found in Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism,and Sunni trend of Islam; the second – in Islam and Russian Orthodox; the third – in Euro-Asian pagan and certain traditional trends within religions. Georgian Orthodox Church reveals a reasonable approach to the globalization process, the basis of which is understanding which will promote cultural and religious retention of identity. Considering the above stated, it can be said that interrelation of globalization and traditional religions takes various forms; globalization does not mean limiting of religions and religious feelings though in a sense it does mean their merging to a certain degree but without forming an “average religion”. This rather complex process of the interrelation of globalization and religions can revive the creative potential of religions, make them give more adequate and contemporary interpretations to traditional postulates since this is necessary for any religion which has a natural striving for self-preservation and self-identification. In the final part of the paper, it should be noted that generally, globalization does not contradict religious faith. Therefore, it is baseless to assume the disappearance of religions and religious features in the globalization epoch.
Globalization, Information Age, Westernization, Traditional Religions, Religious Identity, Religious Globalization, Secularization