What is spirituality? Does it enable us to be better persons? Is spirituality related to religion? These days, is it even relevant? On college campuses, does it promote student well-being? Does it further moral growth? Can spirituality make a difference in healthcare? What about social justice and service to the marginalized?
This rich collection of essays by respected scholars and practitioners in diverse fields in academic, healthcare, social justice, and interfaith contexts addresses these questions in strikingly profound and meaningful ways. Their voices offer alternatives to the prevailing notion of spirituality as a purely private matter, and make a case for living spiritually through deep and genuine engagement with others, bridging our inherent and original fault-line of Self and Other. Their keen observations resuscitate the spiritual fabric of defiance against and liberation from forces of oppression which show their face not only through chronic inequities and social injustice but in consumer capitalism's grip on our souls.
This volume's dispatch to our minds and hearts is timely in an age of looming cynicism, pessimism, fear, and distrust. In carving out a renewed sense of what lies at the heart of living a life of the spirit, or spirituality, it offers an antidote to our widespread hermeneutic of suspicion. None of the authors claims to encapsulate one, pure meaning of the spiritual. Yet they share one collective voice: spirituality is indeed genuine when it calls forth compassion and wears the worn and tangled face of humaneness, freeing ourselves from the prison of ego. Here we find messages of hope, much needed in a time when our society seems increasingly shadowed by dark clouds. These essays remind us of what's right in the world.
Michael C. Brannigan is Dean of Spiritual Life and the George and Jane Pfaff Endowed Chair in Ethics and Moral Values at the College of Saint Rose.