One of the great tragedies of our age and culture is that by abandoning religion in favour of scientific “certainty” (and I use that word cautiously because of course very little can be certain, in science, in anything!), we seem to have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Even amongst many of the leading philosophers and scientists of our age there is a strong consensus that alongside our scientific achievements we have lost sight of the sacred, the spiritual, and our purpose on the planet; that we are in a spiritual crisis as much as a political or ecological one, and that this needs urgently addressing.
And without a sense of awe and wonderment at the world around us, without a sense of shared sacredness with our fellow beings, we are capable of the most awful and destructive behaviour, a point that is self-evident at the present stage in our evolution.
How do we define spirituality? There are perhaps as many attempts at definition as there are spiritual writers, and different cultures and religions. Perhaps we do not need an “all things to all men definition.” The danger comes when spirituality becomes wrapped in commercial trappings, with the promise of peace of mind, spiritual growth, wealth and success and happiness: but at a (material) price. Even “care of the psyche” in current psychotherapy language sounds very like “cure of the soul” to me!
And the cure of souls, with the nurturing of spirituality, is the role of the religious leaders. Sadly there are many amongst us who fail to appreciate that organised religion can satisfy this need, can help us grow spiritually without recourse to the expensive trappings of commerce. It is also true that the churches themselves sometimes need to change: not only change but also let the world know what they can offer. This will be explored in much more detail in later posts when I shall look at ways of "bridging the gap": finding common ground, exploring the interfaces, between religions, spirituality and indeed science. Because I shall also be explaining why bridging this gap is so essential for the health of the world; and that means all of us.
The photo is of Fly Agaric fungi in my garden - I have never in all the years we have been here had so many - and they are also far larger than I have ever seen before. Sign of a really harsh winter to come? Maybe.
© Eleanor Stoneham 2011
My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.
"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden