Yesterday, during a lecture, I was shown this video:
I’ll not ask my readers to watch the whole thing, but the gist of it is that people should change the world by uniting with small groups of like-minded people under whoever steps up to lead the way on that particular issue. The point is, you don’t need to create a demand for a movement, it’s already there; it just needs someone to lead it. Incidentally, the video dates from 2009 so it was rather prescient as far as Donald Trump’s election is concerned.
What I took away from it was that, in an age of increasing secularism, people are flocking to those who can give them the spiritual satisfaction they used to get in church. I’ve mentioned before that people don’t really get more secular, they just shift their faith onto something else; just because they don’t worship at the altar of a regular religion, it doesn’t make them non-believers. A few years ago I read John Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, which includes a history of Mormonism. Its founder Joseph Smith was a teenager during a period called the Second Great Awakening:
The Second Great Awakening was a Protestant religious revival during the early 19th century in the United States.
The revivals enrolled millions of new members in existing evangelical denominations and led to the formation of new denominations. Many converts believed that the Awakening heralded a new millennial age.
A combination of economic and social changes had caused many people to grow disillusioned with the traditional denominations, leading to hundreds of sects popping up headed by all manner of chancers promising salvation. Joseph Smith was physically imposing and staggeringly charismatic, and so it was his particular cult that grew into an established religion while most of the others died out. I was reminded of the clamour of the masses to worship something, anything, during the Second Great Awakening when I watched this video. In the 9 years since it was made, I think the clamour has only grown louder.