Most scholars of new religious movements (NRMs) have tended to ignore the critiques of contemporary culture offered by postmodern theorists. This article attempts to show how several of these critical perspectives can offer innovative conceptual tools with which to analyze growth, change and "distortion" in these movements. The specific elements of postmodernity considered include: 1) hyper-pluralism, globalization, and the radical relativization of truth claims characteristic of postmodernity; 2) postmodernity's "domination of simulation," by which human experience comes to be increasingly mediated by synthetic images produced and disseminated by the mass media; and 3) ephemerality and the contraction of time characteristic of postmodernity. Two NRMs, Christ the Savior Brotherhood and Church Universal and Triumphant, are used as case studies to demonstrate the utility of these three postmodern conditions in interpreting developments in new religions.
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