Through the example of the Japanese new religious movements (NRMs), this essay argues that studies of NRMs must move beyond their current Western-oriented framework if they are to have any validity in a global context. It argues that neither the perspective of Eileen Barker, in focusing on chronological newness, nor of J. Gordon Melton, in centering on outsider status, alone suffices to provide a framing definition of NRMs in Japan. One needs to combine the concept of newness (which should not be limited to mere first-generation notions) with the idea of being alternative. There is much value in extending a definition of NRMs to movements several generations old, for this enables the development of more nuanced understandings of NRM processes. The Japanese example indicates that one can identify a number of shared characteristics that enable discussion of a coherent category of movements known as NRMs. Such shared characteristics are more important than any links NRMs might have to older traditions with which they identify. NRMs are associated not only with newness, but also can be seen as possessing enduring themes shared by movements a century or more old and those of very recent origin.
"Published as : Perspective Chronologies, Commonalities and Alternative Status in Japanese New Religious Movements Defining NRMs outside the Western Cul-de-sac Ian Reader Nova Religio Nov 2005, Vol. 9, No. 2: 84–96. © 2005 by the Regents of the University of California. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by the Regents of the University of California for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® on [Caliber (http://caliber.ucpress.net/)] or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center, http://www.copyright.com."