Thinking Aloud: Why is Spirituality important in secular contexts?

I was giving a presentation a few weeks ago on Spirituality in statutory Youth Groups and the simple question of ‘why?’ came up. It is a good question in that it is something us religious types might not ask of ourselves; spirituality or spiritual awareness is a given in faith contexts.

It occurs to me that this is the first time in our civilised history that we have a formalised system of development for our children & young people that is divorced from religion. As research into Children’s Spirituality widens there seems to be growing support for a connection between spiritual development and overall well-being, not least as it impacts on developing a positive identity. This is of course no surprise to anyone invovled in faith-based work, but perhaps that gives us the answer to the question of ‘why bother in secular contexts?’

I wonder whether the recent disassociation between faith and spirituality in order to maintain, or achieve, a trully secular context; has forced us as a society to recognise the loss of that personal development in terms of identity and mental wholeness, or simply just well-being. Perhaps religion has always given us the tools to maintain our balance in the world because it provided a spiritual structure with which to relate our internal and external experiences. Are we seeing a response to these lost abilities in the increasing energy and research given to spiritual development in our new post-christendom, post-secular society?

Can we learn something about the relative importance of spirituality within a faith context and even begin to question whether we can expect the same positive impact from a faith-less spiritual development at all?

Just thinking out loud…

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