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Part consultancy, part thinktank, part social enterprise, Halcyon helps you prepare for and respond to personal, organisational and societal change.

Halcyon's 52:52:52 campaign on Twitter will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

To be a catalyst is the ambition most appropriate for those who see the world as being in constant change, and who, without thinking that they control it, wish to influence its direction - Theodore Zeldin

What's Changing? - Religion



Please see selected recent belief, religion and spiruality-related change below.


See also;


May 2019

  • Spirituality has been defined by one researcher as “a personalised, subjective commitment to one’s values of connection to self, others, nature, and the transcendent”. In a 2017 survey across 15 Western countries, for example, 64% of respondents said even though they didn’t believe in God as described in the Bible, they believed in a higher power.
  • Recent research suggests that religious experiences satisfy two basic functions of the brain: self-maintenance (“How do we survive as individuals and as a species?”) and self-transcendence (“How do we continue to evolve and change ourselves as people?”).
  • Some suggest we are human animals whose brains “have been designed to blur the line between self and other”, and that we are always going to seek out activities – trance dance, prayer, communion – that remind us of and enhance this blur.
  • Alain de Botton’s Religion for Athiests argues that the supernatural claims of religion are entirely false - but that it still has some very important things to teach the secular. It suggests that rather than mocking religion, agnostics and atheists should instead steal from it - because the world’s religions are packed with good ideas on how we might live and arrange our societies. de Botton  proposes that we may look to religion for insights into how to, among other concerns, build a sense of community, make our relationships last, overcome feelings of envy and inadequacy, inspire travel and reconnect with the natural world. (Not everyone agrees with this sentiment, by any means: for The Clarion Review "de Botton’s effort misses the mark. His treatment of religions is undermined by his glib generalisations and his indifference to (or lack of awareness of) the reasons believers do what they know or believe is right".)


March 2019

  • Asking which came first: all-seeing gods or large societies, The Economist argued that the gods who watch over small societies tend to demand little more than deference. One theory holds that this is because in small societies, where everyone knows everyone, a supernatural policeman is not needed. But bigger societies need a different policing mechanism. So a “Big God”, who cares whether people do right by others, is a feature of most top religions.


December 2018

  • Atheism has grown significantly in recent years. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins sold over 3 million copies and some of philosophy’s biggest names are flying the flag of the non-believer. Yet simultaneously, some traditional religions like Christianity are growing faster now than ever before worldwide, suggesting that both belief and non-belief are here to stay.
  • The Protestant work ethic is real, argued Quartz. In a study in the Philippines, villagers taught a religious curriculum saw a 9% increase in income relative to a control group taught a secular programme.


November 2018

  • Researchers created an artificial society to investigate religious conflict. The model found that two xenophobic groups that are in regular contact create “periods of mutually escalating anxiety”. In practice, such a policy would create moral concerns about separating and confining groups based on identity, as well as whether dividing groups based on religion should be a goal in any society, noted Quartz.
  • A new report from Brookings thinktank looked at the projection of religious soft power, mainly Islam. The authors find that it is not just Saudi Arabia and Iran that seek to win hearts and minds. Many other countries and regimes—including Jordan, Morocco, Turkey and Indonesia - are projecting their particular versions of Islam internationally.


October 2018


September 2018


August 2018


July 2018


June 2018


May 2018

  • Religion does not appear to be going away, argued Aeon. It remains a potent force in public life, whether it be for peasants pressing for land reforms in Brazil or women mobilising en masse to end civil war in Liberia. And more crucially, for the majority of people in the world faced with suffering and the perennial uncertainties of life, religion can bring comfort, understanding and identity. In 2000, when the World Bank spoke to women and men from 60 countries about what really mattered to them, they said living in ‘harmony’ with the transcendent mattered to them. A widow from Bangladesh, for instance, said that time for prayer was as essential to her welfare as a full stomach and mat to sleep on. For some, a meaningful life might even be the most basic human need.

  • Some argue that all religious organisations should now be relegated to the status of private self-selected and self-constituted NGOs like trade unions and other lobby groups, should survive on what money they can raise from their adherents, should have the same and no more than the same rights and entitlements as any other such organisation and should stop getting privileges, money and an amplification for their views (views, never forget, derived from the beliefs of illiterate goat-herds in ancient times) from government.  (The same philosopher created a non-religious Bible that draws from the wealth of secular literature and philosophy in both Western and Eastern traditions.)


Pre 2018

  • Spirituality, for many, seems ton involvw a sense of connection to a much greater whole, which can include an emotional experience of awe and reverence.  However, for many others especially those who are inclined towards the pragmatic, there may be an increasing tension between their own values and spirituality.
  • Many people are starting to try and understand and thereby influence the evolution of spirituality.  One conscious effort to act on this has been the creation of 31 December each year as World Spirituality Day.
  • Spirituality is of course, an ancient value, and previous attempts to make the whole of society more spiritually aware have occurred, for example, during both the Renaissance and even long before that, during the the so-called "Axial Age".
  • At TED, psychologist Jonathan Haidt asked a simple, but difficult question: why do we search for self-transcendence? Why do we attempt to lose ourselves? In a tour through the science of evolution by group selection, he proposed a provocative answer.
  • David Foster Wallace said that everybody worships and,"The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship - be it JC or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some intangible set of ethical principles."