December 31, 2006

Holy Longing, by Ronald Rolheiser

A WonderCafe post:

I've just been reading an interesting book which aims to define a "Christian spirituality". The author's view of spirituality is that every person is powered by a life energy (I guess Christians would call it God's energy), and that what we choose to do with this energy is our spirituality.

He says that this energy is too wild and powerful to be handled all on our own; we either let it run away with us, in which case we end up being self-inflated and self-centered, or we try too hard to dampen it,in which case we become chronically depressed. So, this is how religion comes in - it gives us the guidelines and practices to help us balance this energy within us. Religion, therefore, enables a healthy spirituality.

He defines a healthy spirituality as the ability to experience a child-like delight in our lives; he also claims that the vast majority of adults in our society live lives of quiet depression (not clinical depression, mind you). And this is due in part of the collapse of religion in our lives.

I'm wondering what people's responses are to this definition of spirituality? And if this defintion doesn't fit with yours, how do you define spirituality?

“A quality that goes beyond religious affiliation, that strives for inspiration, reverence, awe, meaning, and purpose, even for those who do not believe in any god. The spiritual dimension tries to be in harmony with the universe, strives for answers about the infinite, and comes into focus when a person faces emotional stress, physical illness, and death.” (Brighton and South Downs Trust, cited in "Spirituality and Ageing" by Jewell, 1999).

Indeed, I shared the ideas from the beginning of Rolheiser's train of thought, which describe an over-arching paradigm of spirituality, without a specifically Christian perspective.

He does go on to outline 4 essential pillars for Christian spirituality, which of course reflect what EZ has been describing. They are:

a. private prayer and personal integrity
b. social justice
c. mellowness (gratefulness) of heart and spirit
d. community

He says that without all 4 pieces in place, we cannot have a healthy Christian spirituality.

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