Thursday, May 11, 2006

everyday spirituality

Latest youth research on spirituality from UK:

Nevertheless, young people do not feel disenchanted, lost or alienated in a meaningless world. “Instead, the data indicated that they found meaning and significance in the reality of everyday life, which the popular arts helped them to understand and imbibe.” Their creed could be defined as: “This world, and all life in it, is meaningful as it is,” translated as: “There is no need to posit ultimate significance elsewhere beyond the immediate experience of everyday life.” The goal in life of young people was happiness achieved primarily through the family. Link

Some comments
1. Fascinating that the report did not consider this spirituality; when it wrote; THE Church of England has debunked the widely held view that young people are spiritual seekers on a journey to find transcendent truths to fill the “God-shaped hole” within them.

2. In contrast, I note the three categories of contemporary spirituality in John Drane’s Do Christians Know How to be Spiritual. (I posted about the book on Tuesday.) John argues that spirituality today is expressed in 3 different ways; one of which is Lifestyle. John describes a book Complete idiots guide to Spirituality in the Workplace the book as “fairly typical of a whole genre of recent writing on ‘spirituality’ … a kind of ‘secular’ spirituality, focused almost entirely on living the good life within a more or less materialist paradigm. Being spiritual is about the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the sort of attitudes we adopt, the relationships we make.” Which sounds to me like the spirituality found in the report.

3. So the missional task becomes an exploration of WWJE- what would Jesus eat; everyday rituals and community. On Monday night a number of people gathered out my house and we formed the Angel Wings Trust with the aim of providing spiritual resources for everyday life. At Pentecost 2006 at Opawa I’m running a seminar on ways to make new-born life spiritual. It’s based on insights from Olive Drane’s Spirituality to go: rituals and reflections for everyday life. I am really excited to be a Christian today, born for such a time as this, part of a church accessing lifestyle spirituality.

Posted by steve at 04:07 PM


  1. Thanks for the heads-up. I’ve added some further reflection at
    There I wrote, among other things,
    “it may be necessary to look carefully at the research for whether, dealing with people whose experience of life is limited (and more so than in previous generations, given the [over]protectiveness of contemporary parenting),”
    But I think you are right, and my connection to what you write is about life-affirming spirituality…

    Comment by andii — May 12, 2006 @ 4:26 am

  2. I had a chat with Bishop Graham Cray about this report when it was still being processed, and all though the article put a negative spin on it,i don’t think – form conversations that the report is as negative as much as corrective. The issue being that many of the approaches that the poeple involved were asked to respond to were what we might consider to be typical Gen X spiritulaity. Buffy, U2 music, art etc… Cray said to me that he believed pastr fo the issue was that Gen X spirtuality does not connect with Gen Y people – particuarly post christendom Gen Y people. He hoped that form this report that they may be able to establish what does connect. Interestingly enough a US report (Soul Searching) and an Australian report ( came up with what i would consider to be some similar findings. The questioning was different but the underlying picture form the result were similar.

    Comment by Michael — May 12, 2006 @ 9:01 am

  3. The research was not saying what was happening was not spiritual. Rather that we need to be more precise with our definitions. Too many people are claiming that we are on the edge of an awakening because kids watch buffy and like ghost stories. The work on midi happy narrative is worth exploring more.

    Comment by Richard — May 13, 2006 @ 4:46 am

  4. One of my favourite voices on ‘Everyday Spirituality’ is Brother Lawrence who seems to have been one of the earliest to recognise our connection with God through lifestyle. Nothing fluffy or mystical – just a simple acknowledgement that friendship with God is for life not just Sundays. A radical voice from the 17th Century emerging church!

    Here’s a brief quote from The Practice of the Presence of God in case it’s of interest:

    “The time of work,” he said, “does not with me differ from the time of prayer. In the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great a tranquillity as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Supper.”

    Comment by Hugh Griffiths — May 13, 2006 @ 6:23 am

  5. I loves me some Brother Lawrence

    Comment by Sean Michael Murphy — May 14, 2006 @ 1:13 am

  6. Hello
    I’m new to blog sites, so I hope I’m doing this correctly.

    As one of the authors of the report I just wanted to thank Richard for confirming the position in the book. We’re not saying that young people aren’t spiritual, and I’d agree with Steve that the type of spirituality we found in our sample fits with the quote from John Drane’s book. We call this ‘formative spirituality’. What we call ‘transformative spirituality’ (a more conscious attempt to foster mindfulness of the Other, howsoever conceived) is less evident.

    Michael’s point is also correct from his discussion with Graham Cray, and Graham has written a couple of chapters in the book reflecting on ways forward for the Church. I’d also agree that our findings have a lot in common with Soul Searching.


    Comment by Sylvie — May 17, 2006 @ 11:08 pm

  7. Sylvie,
    I’m honoured that you’d drop by and comment. Thanks.

    I have not yet read your book, but what is disappointing for me is that the media reports are saying that you are saying that youth are not spiritual. I’m unsure whether this is them mis-representing you, or whether this is what your book says.

    Hence my post, wondering why “transcendence” is the definer of spirituality. That is merely a position that shows a pre-judged notion of spirituality, in contrast with an Incarnational spirituality of immannence.

    My post was trying to raise this issue and I appreciate your affirmation of it. It seems that it is the media, and not your book, that are misnaming spirituality.

    again, thanks for dropping by. what is your next research project?

    Comment by steve — May 18, 2006 @ 11:29 am

  8. Hello Steve

    Definitions of spirituality and religion as so tricky to pin down for the purposes of research. Bob, Sara and I have had a go at it in the book, but I think newspapers haven’t really got the space to pick up on the subtleties of what we are saying. In the book we talk about an appreciation of life, family, friends. The ‘happy midi-narrative’ therefore implies a spirituality based on those relationships (elsewhere I think I’ve called this a spirituality of intimacy) – but it is very much focused on the here and now, with notions of God absent or distanced in the deep background.

    The other important point about the Gen Y research is that it focused on a socially shared worldview, the ‘collective consciousness’ of young people’s every day lives. This will impact on, but is not the same as, what young people might think about on their own, late at night, for instance – which is what my research now is more about; and in particular how this every day ‘formative’ spirituality might translate into more ‘transformative’ spirituality, particularly within a Christian youth work context. (We’re getting some quite exciting results here from a very simple tool we developed to help youth workers open up conversations with young people.)

    There’s so much more to say on this, but I don’t want to take up more space. I hope the book will contribute to the debate and further research in a positive way. Thanks for taking an interest yourself.


    Comment by Sylvie — May 18, 2006 @ 11:27 pm

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