What are the sites of modern, secular pilgrimates, scholars from the Nonreligion and Secularities Network (NSRN) are asking in their call for proposals for a conference in July at Oxford, GB:
„Major secular pilgrimage sites, such as to Abbey Road in London, or to Elvis Presley’s home ‘Graceland’, or Jim Morrison’s (The Doors) grave site in Paris, attract astonishing numbers of ‘pilgrims’. What are the similarities and differences between sacred and secular pilgrimages? More and more we are living in a ‘global village’ and the ‘pilgrimage in my front room’ phenomenon is facilitated by video and satellite links. These changes raise the question: must pilgrimages, whether sacred or secular, always involve a physical journey ‘in league’ with others? Virtual or alternative pilgrimages are important topics for consideration; so, too, are related online experiences that recreate the pilgrimage or tourism experience in a virtual world.“
Will technology transform secular pilgrimages, the call for papers asks: „The global playing field is leveling and technology is impacting pilgrims in innumerable ways. In Mecca, for instance, telephone ‘apps’ assist Hajj pilgrims searching for animals for sacrifice; in Lourdes, another ‘app’ provides details on miraculous healings, proudly declaring, ‘A miracle could happen’ during the pilgrim’s visit. Infrastructural and support services are also improving, and journeys once thought to be too difficult or challenging, such as that to Amarnath in India, are now within reach of vast numbers of pilgrims. Will modern conveniences alter traditional experiences, create entirely new ones, or both?“
Good point. That’s why we end our book „Mekkas der Moderne“ with chapters on Second Life, Mars and the purely theoretical Most Remote Point on earth.