Edward Bailey’s work was pioneering and challenging in that it questioned a widely held assumption that religion was the sole prerogative of institutions devoted to religion. He sought to discover the sacred within what might otherwise be dismissed as profane, and to identify experiences of the holy within an apparently irreligious realm. Implicit Religion enabled aspects of the spiritual to be discovered unexpectedly within contemporary secular society. He noted that “everybody has a religion of some sort,” a faith by which they live, albeit as an unconscious core at the centre of their way of life and being.
Implicit Religion begins with a simple question, would our understanding of the secular and everyday life benefit from asking if it has a religion of its own? Answering the question opens up the possibility of discovering the sacred within what might otherwise be dismissed as profane, and of finding an experience of the holy within an apparently irreligious realm. Above all, in contemporary society it allows for the discovery of some kind of religiosity within what conventionally might be seen as an unrelievedly secular sphere. The concept therefore gives credence to the opinion of the ‘person in the street,’ that while ‘some who go to church really mean it,’ others who go to church ‘really have a different religion altogether’—but that ‘everybody has a religion of some sort,’ a faith by which they live, albeit as an unconscious core at the centre of their way of life and being.
That ‘faith’ has been explored in a variety of communities and ways from Elvis to Lance Armstrong, from the work of psychologists to the activism of the occupy movement, from the theatre to the punk venue / squat, from engineers to poets and from corporate business to museum displays. Often these ideas are first explored at the conference, where the discussion and conferring of the paper leads to new discoveries and enthusiasm. Papers presented at the conference are often then submitted for consideration and peer review with a view to publication in the journal.
Given the breath and range of areas that are explored, examined and considered under the purview of Implicit Religion, it is important to realise that religion is not itself a constrained or self-contained category, nor does it exist solely as a binary to the secular. Implicit Religion is concerned with the interaction and conversation that occurs as these fluid, overlapping and co-dependant categories react to one another and to additional stimuli and change.
At its core Implicit Religion is an analytical tool that coalesces around three criteria:
1. Commitment – to what do people, groups, communities, professions, institutions, corporations commit themselves and why? What meaning does that commitment provide for them?
2. Integrating foci – what do people, groups, communities, professions, institutions and corporations use to integrate their commitment into the rest of their life and its vagaries? In what ways are the integrating foci related to or born from the commitment?
3. Intensive concerns with extensive effects – what arises from the commitment that matters / excites / stimulates / moves the individual, group, community, business, culture to such an extent that it changes and shapes their actions, behaviours, attitudes and opinions?