By Volker Gottowik
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Extra info for Dynamics of Religion in Southeast Asia: Magic and Modernity
However, discussions of miracles and participation in local debates on spirits form an important part of El Shaddai’s world view: It is evil forces – in fact, emissaries of the devil – that are responsible for family quarrels, the use of illegal drugs, problems with alcohol and gambling. The El Shaddai radio programme not only conveys the blessings of its charismatic founder figure, Brother Mike, into people’s homes but will also expel nocturnal demons by its 24-hour service. El Shaddai healers perform exorcism and purification rituals and concurrently offer explanations for sickness, misfortune and people’s experiences.
Ibid: 19; author’s translation). Apparently, the claim to be modern has worn away and does not conform to the ‘Zeitgeist’ anymore. The dialectic of enlightenment, which could also be described as a dialectic of secularization, is obviously producing deficiencies which, at least in part, are being compensated by religion. The dialectic addressed here ultimately provoked the question whether we need a ‘second modernity’, a ‘modernization of modernity’, which, in the sense of a ‘reflexive modernization’, would be able to process or rescue the unintended and problematic side effects of the first modernization (cf.
Seen against this background, the Imitatio Christi is an extremely effective spiritual technique, and even the dead Christ is turned into a powerful shaman (Cannell 1999, 200). Catholicism and the shamanism of Southeast Asia are indeed inseparable. The Philippine spiritual healing complex is neither an exclusively tribal nor a rural phenomenon. Indeed, it was in urban centres that the Philippine Jesuit and social psychologist Jaime Bulatao noticed an increase in the numbers of spiritual healers after the Second World War, coining the term ‘New Mystics’ to describe them (Bulatao 1992: 54-62).