Jesus in Disneyland, by David Lyon

According to Canadian sociologist David Lyon, the theory of secularization based on Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism--a "metanarrative" of the secularized academy--is dead. While modernity and postmodernity have seen the weakening of organized religion in the West and the corrosion of some elite theological formulations,  religion continues to thrive in forms that both resist and adapt to (post)modernity.

Lyon uses the metaphor of Disneyland for (post)modernity because it combines cultural elements of the modern--for example, high technology and instrumental rationality--with trends that distinguish the postmodern--especially ever-rising consumerism and the expansion of new communication and information technologies. Religion grounds itself in "communities of memory," offers hope that transcends human accomplishment and makes authoritative claims about reality and human identity. Disneyland offers simulated fantasy worlds that sell a nostalgic past and a rosy technological future and invites humans to define themselves by what they consume. By juxtaposing Jesus with Disneyland, Lyon asks his reader to consider with him the changing fortunes of religion in postmodern times.

Media mediate and shape the message sent and influence how it is received. To show how this affects religion Lyon explores the ways in which sacred symbols are conveyed and appropriated, first by liturgy, then by the modern mass media and finally by cyberspace. In this shift, signs float ever more free of the reality (including transcendent reality) to which they point. They increasingly compete in one commodified market that offers a bewildering array of religious "options" from around the world, out of which the consumer assembles a religious identity "right for her," bypassing the conventional authority of traditional religious leaders, practices and institutions.