Who loves thy neighbour, and which neighbours do they love the most?

One reason to study religious futurisms is because the world is becoming MORE religious, not less. In that context, it’s worth considering what various religious and non-religious groups think about one another. Here’s a nice table, derived from a new Pew Research set of polls, looking at this in the American context.

There are some fascinating anomalies here, more anomalies than patterns really, but we will need to explore these societally if we hope to have a peaceable future society. Additionally, the headline is a little disingenuous since mainstream Christian sects don’t tend to view Mormonism as Christian.

And there are many significant gaps in the polling which renders it incomplete. For example, what do Muslims think of the other sects? What about Buddhists, one of America’s fastest growing religions? Or Hindus? Or Orthodox Christians? What about New Age/Pagan/Wicca-based beliefs? Or Indigenous beliefs? And so on.

Nevertheless, this research, as a snapshot in time, is a reasonable starting point for ecumenical outreach for those who are religious, for religious futurist research for those like me who have an academic interest, and for those (sociologists, theologians, politicians, policy-makers) exploring similar inter-relationships in other territories.

For me, a number of these anomalies are particularly intriguing. Only Mormons like everybody. Only Jews are liked by everybody. Opinions on Muslims are almost entirely negative. Historical gulfs between Protestants and Catholics appear to be elided.

The biggest agreed antipathy instead is actually between Evangelical Protestants and Atheists. And the biggest imbalance in regard is between Jews and Evangelical Protestants (a 79 point divide). There is, in short, lots to digest, even if the research is limited in terms of range (America only) and scope (the various creeds for some reason not included.)

I suspect such a table would look different in different locations, needless to say. But we won’t know for sure until someone does the relevant polling in other nations. I look forward to such data emerging in time.

Zen and the Art of Science Fiction Ancientness

Due to the production lag of academic work appearing in public (peer review, people working for no remuneration, etc), some of the early work I’ve done on Science Fiction and Buddhism is only now emerging in print/pixels.

The first chapter of the slowly emerging book, which looked at Buddhist Reception in Pulp SF, appeared about 18 months ago, as I noted at the time.

Now two more chapters have emerged, long awaited and then arriving in tandem, like buses of legend. The first of these examines the crypto-Buddhism of Arthur C. Clarke, and can be found in a very excellent essay collection entitled Rendezvous with Arthur C. Clarke: Centenary Essays, published unsurprisingly to commemorate 100 years since ACC’s birth.

Contact the publisher Gylphi if it’s of interest, or else pick up a copy on Amazon or via your favourite brainy bookshop. Like all Gylphi books, it costs only a fraction of most academic texts.

Clarke on Clarke contained therein.

The second publication likewise focuses on a single author, this time Frank Herbert of Dune fame, and therefore it will come as no surprise that it’s entitled “The Dharma of Dune: Frank Herbert and Zen Buddhism”.

It can be found in volume one (of two) of Fantastic Religions and Where to Find Them, or, to name it in its original language, Religioni fantastiche e dove trovarle: Divinità, miti e riti nella fantascienza e nel fantasy. If you follow that link, it will take you to the page of publisher Edizione Quasar where you will find both volumes, which contain an eclectic range of clever and considered takes on religion in a vast array of SFF texts, literary, televisual, cinematic and cultural.

Where can you find fantastic religion? In here!

Many thanks are due to the editors of both volumes, Paul March-Russell and Andrew Butler in the first instance, and Igor Baglioni, Ilaria Biano and Chiara Crosignani in the second.

You might reasonably wonder why all three of these chapters feature rather old SF. That’s partly because I’ve been working on this book chronologically, though I’d expect that the next chapter to emerge blinking into the light might jump a few decades to consider Cyberpunk. Don’t ask me when that will be though. The gestation period of academic texts is an arcane mystery. When it happens, I’ll be sure to let you know though.