Maggi Dawn made a couple of comments about Kiwi’s on her blog that got me thinking. How much might the following factors create an environment where Alt.W is able to be explored and nutured in NZ? (I’m just a theologian/scientist thinking here not a sociologist or historian so I may be way off the mark)
- No state religion/church – NZ doesn’t have a state religion or church in the same (any?) way that the Church of England, the Roman Catholic church or Eastern Orthodoxy have related to the State/Crown. Here is pretty much everyone for themselves with no central authority to sanction what is or is not orthodox (except within individual churches or denominations).
- NZ is a “new” country – 160+ years old if you follow European dating from the Treaty of Waitangi (1840). Maybe there’s a desire to reconnect to lost “homeland” traditions, ritual and depth that opens doors for Alt.W to draw on.
- Contemporary NZ as post-Enlightenment project – Government, institutional and other structures were formed out of post-Enlightenment optimism, pragmatism and ideals. E.g. no (overt) religious education in NZ state schools until a recent shift to include more “spirtuality”. (See the section on Antoine Marie Garin which notes “he could not accept the regulations in the Education Act 1856 which stipulated that religious education was to be free from all controversy and taught only at times when parents who objected could remove their children from the schools.). This sort of environment may have heightened the response to post or late-modernity with little non-modern resources to draw upon.
- Parallel Maori spirituality – Most Kiwi’s have some knowledge that the Maori culture is rich in spirituality connected with the land and everyday life. Maybe there is a sense of wanting to draw from that and have that sort of spirituality as well.
Anyway just some immediate thoughts I had. Some like Steve may have more organised (and better researched) ideas.