Religious Identity in an Emergent Second Axial Age
It has become almost a cliché to say that we live in a time of globalization, but the spiritual dimensions of contemporary globalization are less well understood. We are living in a time where religions and religious practitioners are meeting one another and being transformed in the process. Some scholars suggest that we are witnessing the dawn of the Second Axial Age. Professor Prabhu explored the possibility that a Second Axial Age is dawning, both similar to and different from the First Axial Age (800-200 BCE). He also suggested that dialogue and depth-encounter are keynotes of this age with profound implications for social, political and personal life. He then explored one of these implications, the character of religious identity at both denominational and personal levels. Multiple religious affiliations is now increasingly common, while many describe themselves as “spiritual, not religious.” The nature and structure of “religion” itself is undergoing a mutation.
Joseph Prabhu is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) and member of the Executive Committee of the Parliament of the World's Religions. He is active as both a scholar and a peace activist. He has edited: The Intercultural Challenge of Raimon Panikkar (1996 ) and co-edited the two-volume Indian Ethics: Classical Traditions and Contemporary Challenges (2007, 2011). He has three books in process, “Liberating Gandhi: Community, Empire and a Culture of Peace,” due out in 2011, and “Hegel, India and the Dark Face of Modernity” and “Human Rights in Cross-Cultural Perspective,” due out in 2012. He has been a Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University and of the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago and a Visiting Professor there. He has also been co-editor of Re-Vision from 1995-2003 and a contributing editor of Zygon. He is the past President of the international Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy, 2008-09, and the Program Chair for the Melbourne Parliament of the World’s Religions, 2009. Among his many awards are the Outstanding Professor Award of CSULA for 2004-05 and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Soka Gakkai, USA and a Commendation from the Southern California Committee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.