Saturday, April 04, 2015

Coalition Spirituality

Caroline Wyatt has done an impressive job as the BBC's religion correspondent, and has an interesting reflection on Easter observance in the UK
Perhaps Lent is now seen by some as a secular opportunity to cleanse the body from daily abundance, if not the soul.
Yet while many of us may be able to sate our hunger for treats more often than in earlier decades, and the majority in the UK are either avowedly not religious or far less religious than in previous decades, there is a hunger that remains.
It is a hunger for some kind of meaning in life, above and beyond the materialistic.
From the growing popularity of humanism and mindfulness, of non-religious "Sunday services" or "kabbalah", and the enduring popularity of yoga, not to mention the growth of some of the non-established churches, and books such as Alain de Botton's 'Religion for Atheists', many in the west are clearly still searching for the answer to the question "why are we here?", even if they no longer believe the answer lies in organised religion.
The new organisations and individuals offering answers could perhaps be seen as the "independent retailers" in this market for higher meaning, as the former established retailers of the Christian Church in the UK lose worshippers, albeit more gradually than the steep decline of previous decades.
The founder of the 'atheist church' Sunday Assembly recently visited 3 London churches including Hillsong. I was struck by how positive he was about all three. It also sounds like he experienced God in various ways, though he wouldn't put it in those terms. 
Spiritually we have done what the party system is doing. There isn't a binary choice between Christianity and Atheism, though there are spokesmen on both sides who like to present it that way. There are 7, actually more like 77 alternative voices, and many people's spirituality is a coalition: a mixture of afterlife, fate, morality, mysticism, belonging, family traditions and prayer. The challenge for the church is how to encourage people to consider Jesus as a candidate, let alone prime minister. 

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