Responding to Post Christian Spiritualities Print
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 11 July 2008 11:15
Here is something that I find so thought-provoking in light of our continued work with Making Disciples.

It is an article in the July edition of Lausanne World Pulse on New Religions, Subjective Life Spiritualities, and the Challenge to Missions in the Post-Christian West

And author John Moorehead is not just talking about the old Institutionalized "new religions" with which we are all familiar: Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses. But the much more esoteric world of do-it-yourself spirituality associated with the new group that the Pew Survey identified" the "religious unaffiliated"

"The Western Subjective Turn

One of the greatest challenges the Church faces in the modern Western context is the general turn away from interest in and involvement with institutionalized forms of religion, such as Christianity, and the corresponding move toward an inward and subjective expression of spirituality. Robert Wuthnow has referred to this as a shift from a “spirituality of dwelling” in institutions such as churches to a “spirituality of seeking,”1 involving an individualized spiritual quest.

This spiritual seeking takes place in consumerist fashion wherein the seeker selects from an expanding “spiritual marketplace,”2 looking for resources that facilitate an inward development of the self with its desires for wholeness, personal development, and meaning. Paul Heelas and Linda Woodhead have described the inward turn in Western spirituality as “subjective life spirituality.” They note that those forms of spirituality which emphasize a holistic personal life are far more able to thrive in the present environment than those which do not.3

Increasing Spiritual Options
These developments in the ways in which people pursue their religious and spiritual practices mean that the spiritual marketplace is made up of not only institutionalized forms of alternative spiritualities expressed in more familiar groups such as Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses, but also more fluid and individualized forms of spirituality such as Neo-Paganism and Western esotericism.

In addition, large numbers of people pursue their own unique forms of Do-It-Yourself Spirituality constructed in eclectic fashion and drawn from elements of popular culture and diverse religious traditions.

Although the total number of adherents of new religions is small in light of the overall religious population in the West, as Christopher Partridge has noted, “New religions and alternative spiritualities should not be dismissed as superficial froth or the dying embers of religion in the West, but are rather the sparks of a new and increasingly influential way of being religious.”4

The question remains, however, as to what might be considered the best ways for the Church to engage the new religions, as well as the broader Western turn to self and holistic spirituality."

Those interested might consider attending the Consultation on Post Christian Spiritualitiess this October 16 -19 in Illinois. It is important that serious, well formed Catholics be part of these discussions - for our own sake and the sake of the Church's mission in the west and for the sake of the discussion itself , which deeply needs the perspective that comes with the full 2,000 years of Christian tradition and missionary experience.