I have been continuing to reflect on my experience of African spirituality at our recent outreach. Not that this was the first time I encountered it, but it was my longest sustained encounter.
The 'trouble' with spirituality is its personal nature. My spirituality is the way I encounter God heart to heart - or at least that is my current understanding of the term. I come from a tradition that is rooted in a modern worldview and therefore things are analysed and explained - to a large extent I understand my spirituality and can explain it to others.
I don't think that this means that those spiritualities that cannot be analysed and communicated so well are wrong. Something like centring prayer is probably practised in many different ways - some I might see as right and some I might see as wrong, but I will only understand it if I can experience it. And even then, I might not understand it. I see African spirituality in the same light. I'm not sure that it can be taught. It needs to be imbibed. I may well never come to understand it or experience it fully.
The other thing is, of course, that while something may not be wrong just because it cannot be explained, that does not mean that it must be right. The question I would ask is whether one demonstrates some sort of positive change as a result of one's spirituality - fruit, I suppose.
But then change is also a cultural bugbear.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
On Spirituality . . .
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Such a good post, Jenny. I sense in you a discerning balance and what a marvellous gift that is in our world today.
It’s a tricky one.
I’m thinking: is all spirituality “good”? I mean a Hindu practising some form of spirituality at the top of a mountain might very well demonstrate “some sort of positive change as a result of one's spirituality – fruit”?
I’m thinking: the discerning factor to gauging “goodness” will need to include a definite understanding of the object of one’s affection.
Isn’t a better way to link Spirituality with Truth like Jesus did in John 4:23, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.”
This i a very similar principle to what C. S. Lewis suggested in 'An Experiment in Criticism' -- although that was about literature not spirituality. The idea of not being able to say 'no' definitively is the same, though. It's interesting!
Thanks Don. And thanks for stopping by my blog.
Mark - I hear what you are saying. There is spirituality that does not relate to God's Spirit, but more particularly the human spirit. I am wondering, if I see someone exploring a spirituality that I don't understand - like some aspects of African Christian spirituality - how do I know if it is in truth?
Charli - thanks. I guess what that might be getting at is the subjective nature of both literature and spirituality. Which, I suppose, raises more questions . . .
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