I just finished a lovely book of essays edited by Susan Ossman called The Places We Share: Migration, Subjectivity, and Global Mobility. Nicely written and redacted and I recommend it to you.
There was one essay in particular that I noted and went back to. It's called "A New Take on the Wandering Jew" and it's about Jewish identity as it is experienced in different countries by people who are globally mobile. As the author of the essay, Shana Cohen, put it, "Acting on my Jewish identity has seemed to provide continuity as I have migrated from place to place." Wherever she has lived (US, Morocco, England, Egypt and Israel) that identity has served to ground her. It isn't about integration so much as it is having a kind of worldwide plug adaptor so that wherever a migrant lands there is something that he or she can connect to that is not tied to one country, culture, nationality or citizenship. It exists separate from all those things. There are local variations, certainly, but there is something under it all that connects where you came from, where you've lived, where you are right now and where you might go.
Furthermore, it's a something that you feel that you have a right to be a part of based on criteria that is not determined by border guards or states or even to a certain extent, the local culture and community. You belong. Period. And all you have to do is show up and in most cases, they have to honor your claim to belong. Or at least if they don't they forfeit some important principles in their own rulebook such as their claims to universality.
In my own life the Catholic church functions in exactly this manner. It is a constant wherever I go. By virtue of this identity, this membership, I can simply find the local church or cathedral wherever I happen to be and plug in. Christianity is a universal creed, a world religion that was already global before anyone ever noticed there was this thing called "globalization." As the essay so ably points out, so is Judaism. Islam too, for that matter. You can be affiliated to any one of these world religions and find an instantiation of it in just about any country you wish to visit or live in. If you like (and I do) that provides a thread of cohesion that can mute some of the psychic distress of culture shock and adaptation to new places.
This function of world religions may be completely lost on adherents who do not travel widely or migrate. In France, for example, I see this very strong identification of Catholicism and French culture and sometimes even claims to a kind of special culturally-based version of Catholicism that is unlike any other in the world. I was asked once by a family member here if American Catholics baptized their children, too - a question that I found highly amusing. Yes, there are culturally specific traditions around Catholic rites here but the creed, sacraments and rites are the same and don't fundamentally change between the US and Canada or France and England. For all that the French have misgivings about mondialisation, a fair number of them are (and have been for generations) members of these global organizations/communities whether we are talking about Christianity, Judaism or any other religion with a global presence.
So far I've talked only about world religions and the question that followed my reading of the essay was: Are there secular equivalents out there? Identities, organizations or movements that have the same characteristics: a universal creed, shared rites and rituals, open membership and a global presence.
And the answer is Yes. Alcoholics Anonymous. Believe it or not, AA is worldwide and a recovering alcoholic can find a meeting just about anywhere he or she goes in the world. I know personally any number of serial migrants and travellers who use AA as their base in every country, region, city, town or village. I have seen people walking into a meeting with their luggage having just come from the airport. They find and go to a meeting before they check into the hotel. It's that important to them. There are local traditions and different languages depending on the country/culture but the basic principles are always the same and they are universal.
Now I have heard the argument that AA is a religion. My experience in France, the US and Canada is that, if there is a religious component to it, it varies according to the place with atheists and agnostics very prevalent in French meetings. A bit different in North America but it depends on the particular meeting.
So I do argue for AA as a secular transnational organization with a global membership and a portable identity that gives a migrant or a traveller a place to "plug in" anywhere he or she goes in the world.
Are there others?
You tell me.