New streams of religion: fly fishing as a lived, religion of nature.
“Fly fishers around the world frequently use terms such as religious, spiritual, sacred, divine, ritual, meditation, and conversion to describe their personal angling experiences. Further, drawing upon religious terminology, anglers will refer to rivers as their church and to nature as sacred. Often these latter pronouncements drive a concern for the conservation of these sacred spaces as evidenced by participation in both local and national conservation organizations. Informed by theoretical perspectives offered by religious studies, particularly “lived religion” and “religion and nature,” I shall trace a few of the historical, material, and everyday elements of fly fishers and their subcultures, demonstrating along the way the insights that come by understanding fly fishing as a religious practice, which can, at times, drive an ethic of environmental conservation.”
“This paper argues that whitewater paddling constitutes religious experience, that non-western terms often best describe this experience and that these two facts are related and have much to tell us about the nature of religious experience. That many paddlers articulate their experiences using Asian and/or indigenous religious terms suggests that this language is a form of opposition to existing norms of what constitutes religious experience. So, investigating the sport as an aquatic nature religion provides the opportunity to revisit existing categories. As a “lived religion,” whitewater kayaking is a ritual practice of an embodied encounter with the sacred, and the sacred encounter is mediated through the body’s performance in the water. This sacred encounter-with its risk and danger-illustrates Rudolph Otto’s equation of the sacred with terrifying and unfathomable mystery and provides a counterpoint to norms of North American religiosity and related scholarship.”
“‘Soul surfers’ consider surfing to be a profoundly meaningful practice that brings physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits. They generally agree on where surfing initially developed, that it assumed a religious character, was suppressed for religious reasons, has been undergoing a revival, and enjoins reverence for and protection of nature. This subset of the global surfing community should be understood as a new religious movement-a globalizing, hybridized, and increasingly influential example of what I call aquatic nature religion. For these individuals, surfing is a religious form in which a specific sensual practice constitutes its sacred center, and the corresponding experiences are constructed in a way that leads to a belief in nature as powerful, transformative, healing, and sacred. I advance this argument by analyzing these experiences, as well as the myths, rites, symbols, terminology, technology, material culture, and ethical mores that are found within surfing subcultures.”
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