Professor Philip Sheldrake is currently Senior Research Fellow in the Cambridge Theological Federation (Westcott House), Honorary Professor of the University of Wales, and a regular visiting professor in the United States. He is also a member of the Guerrand-Hermès Forum for the Interreligious Study of Spirituality. Philip Sheldrake co-founded and directed (1984-94) the Institute of Spirituality, Heythrop College University of London. He is on the editorial boards of three international academic journals. For the last twenty five years he has been a leading figure in the field of spirituality as an interdisciplinary area of study.
Spirituality: A Very Short Introductionby Philip Sheldrake
- LendMe LendMe™ Learn More
It has been suggested that 'spirituality' has become a word that 'can define an era'. Why? Because paradoxically, alongside a decline in traditional religious affiliations, the growing interest in spirituality and the use of the word in a variety of contexts is a striking aspect of contemporary western cultures. Indeed, spirituality is sometimes contrasted attractively with religion, although this is problematic and implies that religion is essentially dogma, moralism, institutions, buildings, and hierarchies. The notion of spirituality expresses the fact that many people are driven by goals that concern more than material satisfaction. Broadly, it refers to the deepest values and sense of meaning by which people seek to live. Sometimes these values are conventionally religious. Sometimes they are associated with what is understood as 'the sacred' in a broader sense - that is, of ultimate rather than merely instrumental importance. This Very Short Introduction, written by one of the most eminent scholars and writers on spirituality, explores the historical foundations of the thought and considers how it came to have the significance it is developing today. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Meet the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
Spirituality is one of those things that everyone has some idea of what it is but it’s prohibitively hard to define. Leading a spiritually fulfilling life is arguably one of the overarching goals for most people, whether they acknowledge or accept it as such or not. In recent years there has been a trend, particularly in the west, for the term spiritual to designate people who have abandoned most affiliation with organized religion, yet don’t consider themselves to be strictly speaking “atheists.” On the other hand there is a trend even among the atheists for a more systematic approach to the transcendental questions and aspirations in life that don’t fall under the officially recognized secular practices. This short introduction aims to explain spirituality and introduce the reader to various spiritual practices. It is an interesting overview of many different “spiritualties,” from those that derive from organized religions to those that seem much more contemporary and at first divorced from any spiritual concepts. Even though this book is a nice introductory overview, it leaves a lot to be desired. For one, after reading it I don’t understand any better what spirituality as such is than before. It leaves me feeling that spirituality is a very vague notion to begin with, and almost infinitely malleable. A few attempts to systematize variety of spiritual approaches leave some of the most prominent aspects out – ritual observance, prayer, and theological study. Granted, some of these are mentioned in the book, but more as an afterthought and in passing. Furthermore, the author subtly and not-too-subtly characterizes various spiritual practices with value judgment that are obviously tainted by his own intellectual and moral persuasions – those of a post-modern European academic intellectual, with all of the secular pieties that this entails. From this perspective spirituality seems like little more than a way of imbuing the prevailing western liberal ideology with some deeper transcendental meaning. If you want just a basic overview of some main spiritual approaches that are relevant today, then this book has some value. However, it’s neither a very critical nor probing look at the subject of spirituality.