This book explores the global search for a spiritual life in contemporary culture at a personal and social level, inside and outside religious institutions, and in the secular world. It looks at diversity and religious pluralism, clarifies the meaning of spirituality in different languages and cultures, examines religious and secular spiritualities, and asks whether we are experiencing a spiritual renaissance, revival, or revolution. The discussion begins with looking at spirituality from a larger perspective by investigating its origin and significance, its ideals and practices, different forms of spiritual guidance past and present, and the new development of spirituality as an academic subject of study. It then moves on to specific topics like spirituality and interfaith dialogue, spirituality within the human life cycle, and spirituality and gender. The chapter on interfaith dialogue shows how the global interaction between people of different faiths and cultures, and the need for mutual understanding and collaboration, have greatly increased the opportunities for dialogue, but also for a new interfaith spirituality, pioneered by outstanding exemplars from different faith communities. Thus the question arises: what is the spiritual significance of world faiths for humanity today, but also, what is the importance of secular spirituality? Several chapters illustrate how, at a personal level, many new approaches to spirituality have emerged: How is spirituality linked to human embodiment, to the experience of birth, childhood, maturity, aging, dying and death? What is the significance of spirituality in the education of children, and in lifelong learning? Does spirituality impact on physical, mental, and emotional health? And how far can psychotherapy be seen as a spiritual journey? Is women's spirituality different from men's, and what are the specifically new contributions of feminist, ecofeminist, and Goddess spirituality? Moving from personal to social and planetary dimensions, other chapters explore how spirituality relates to nature, science, and technology, and to the surprising new spiritual resources that modern science can provide us with, or what resources for living can be found in the arts, whether painting, sculpture, music, or dance. Examples from different social contexts and cultures reveal how the contemporary encounter with nature, science, and the arts can be an amazingly transformative experience of transfiguration and transcendence, and help to heal the wounds of our world. This is particularly evident in the new forms of ecological spirituality considered in several places. The author argues that we need spiritualities that provide nurture and sustenance for the struggles of our personal life, and for the global tasks and responsibilities of the planetary earth community. The vision presented here is one of hope, flourishing, and inspiration. It encourages the zest for life and calls for the power of love to transform ourselves and the world we live in. This book can be read as a series of meditations or a set of arguments inviting reflection and response from the reader. This is greatly helped by the inclusion of a substantial, annotated bibliography for readers who wish to explore more deeply the search for a spiritual life, and for the spiritualities of life discussed in this book.
"Beautifully written, this is an enlightening book that informs while it gently persuades. Opening many windows onto spiritual experience in our increasingly global culture, it invites the reader to partake and contribute."Elizabeth Johnson, author of She Who Is"Ursula King's scholarly command of the wide range of classic and contemporary forms of spirituality is equalled only by her enormous clarity in communicating their content in this very important and interesting new book. Teachers, students, ministers, spiritual directors-and anyone in search of spirituality-will find this work a wise and illuminating guide."John F. Haught, author of God After Darwin"What distinguishes Ursula King's search for a spirituality that will respond to global needs is the way she combines both depth and breadth in her search. She recognizes and taps the mystical depths that nourish all spiritualities, but she also shows how these shared depths produce a broad diversity of expressions in enabling people to both understand and transform their world. Authentic spirituality, she makes clear, is both mystical in its sources and practical in its effects."Paul F. Knitter, author of One Earth Many Religions"Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. We have desperately needed Ursula King's kind of dispassionate overview of spirituality as a construct for years. Thank God we have it now." Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours