Spirituality in the News

May 28, 2019
By Rose Gamble for The Tablet
Researchers asked unbelievers about whether the universe is ultimately meaningless and what values matter most to them
The Vatican at Sunset
Photo: Pacific Press/SIPA USA/PA Images

A major conference on unbelief, co-hosted by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the University of Kent, is being held at the Vatican.

The two-day conference will today (28 May) launch with the global “Understanding Unbelief” programme presenting results from its research.

The multidisciplinary research programme led by the University of Kent in collaboration with St Mary's University Twickenham, Coventry University and Queen's University Belfast, mapped the nature and diversity of 'unbelief' across six countries including Brazil, China, Denmark, Japan, UK and the USA.

Researchers asked unbelievers across the six countries about attitudes to issues such as supernatural phenomena, whether the “universe is ultimately meaningless” and what values matter most to them.

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March 22, 2019
Christian Jarrett for Research Digest
Psychologists have devoted much time over the last two decades documenting the dark side of human nature as encapsulated by the so-called Dark Triad of traits: psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism. People who score highly in these traits, who break the normal social rules around modesty, fairness and consideration for others, seem to fascinate as much as they appall. But what about those individuals who are at the other extreme, who through their compassion and selflessness are exemplars of the best of human nature? There is no catchy name for their personality traits, and while researchers have studied altruism, forgiveness, gratitude and other jewels in our behavioural repertoire, the light side of human personality has arguably not benefited from the same level of attention consumed by the dark side.

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March 24, 2019
Tuomo Peltonen for LSE Business Review
Interest in the role of spirituality in organisational life has been growing rapidly in the past few decades. Numerous books and articles have explored the benefits of spirituality and religion for the effectiveness, well-being and ethicality of the modern workplace. There is both an expanding academic discourse on the meaning of spirituality at work, as well as a related movement among the practitioners towards exploring and pursuing various forms of spirituality in organisational contexts.

However, the newly emerging spiritual discourse seems to have generated a whole set of open questions regarding the position and relevance of the workplace spirituality movement. What is exactly is meant by spirituality and how it should be assessed in relation to organisational theories and philosophies?

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December 13, 2018
By Ross Douthat for the New York Times

Here are some generally agreed-upon facts about religious trends in the United States. Institutional Christianity has weakened drastically since the 1960s. Lots of people who once would have been lukewarm Christmas-and-Easter churchgoers now identify as having “no religion” or being “spiritual but not religious.” The mainline-Protestant establishment is an establishment no more. Religious belief and practice now polarizes our politics in a way they didn’t a few generations back.

What kind of general religious reality should be discerned from all these facts, though, is much more uncertain, and there are various plausible stories about what early-21st century Americans increasingly believe. The simplest of these is the secularization story — in which modern societies inevitably put away religious ideas as they advance in wealth and science and reason, and the decline of institutional religion is just a predictable feature of a general late-modern turn away from supernatural belief.

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November 19, 2018
By David Brooks, for The New York Times

A veteran of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.CreditCreditTodd Heisler/The New York Times
A veteran of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times

David BrooksWherever I go I seem to meet people who are either dealing with trauma or helping others dealing with trauma. In some places I meet veterans trying to recover from the psychic wounds they suffered in Iraq or Afghanistan. Sometimes it is women struggling with the aftershocks of sexual assault. Sometimes it is teachers trying to help students overcome the traumas they’ve suffered from some adult’s abuse or abandonment.

Wherever Americans gather and try to help each other on any deep level, they confront levels of trauma that their training has often not prepared them for.

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August 4, 2018
By Robert Weisman for the Boston Globe
From left, Suriphan Ratanamatmongkol, Kate MacDonald, and Diane Medeiros meditated at the Inner Space Meditation Center. Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

CAMBRIDGE — Kate MacDonald grew up Catholic, but now attends an Episcopal church. And after retiring from a stressful job and recovering from an illness in her 60s, she turned to yet another spiritual influence: Raja Yoga-inspired meditation.

Early last week, as the lunch-hour bustle engulfed Harvard Square, she sat in the quiet room at the Inner Space Meditation Center with other baby boomers listening to soothing flute music, staring at a point of light embedded in an Indian painting on the wall, and breathing in and out.

“It’s an internal balancing, and a release,” said MacDonald, now 73, a retired professor who lives nearby. As she’s gotten older, she said, she takes a broader view of faith and no longer feels she has to choose between competing beliefs and rituals. “This blends with any kind of religious practice,” she said. “It all comes down to loving one another.”
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May 25, 2018
Alanna Ketler for Collective Evolution
About 5 months ago I picked up a new habit and started sending a blessing to my food (each meal) before eating it. This is a common custom to pray or say “grace” before a meal in many religions; although I am not religious I have adapted this practice for my own reasons, which I will explore in-depth throughout this article.

There are many reasons to bless your food aside from religious ones, but considering this has been practiced throughout various cultures of the world for thousands of years, religion aside — there just might be something to this. Saying grace is essentially just taking a moment to show gratitude and appreciation to the fact that there is even food on the table or in your hands that you are about to eat, rather than what is typically done in North America at least, where the food is quickly shovelled into ones face.

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March 28, 2018
John Tarrant, for Lion's Roar
Glass-photo by veeterzy Photo: veeterzy

Zen Student: “When times of great difficulty visit us, how should we greet them?”

Teacher: “Welcome.”

The new world looks surprisingly like the old one, except that it’s different. Two years ago housing prices fell off a cliff and mortgages went underwater. Today, the hardware store is still quiet and the busy suburban hairdresser is empty on a Friday. Phobia about spending makes other people phobic too—a great university declares a hiring freeze, and a clinic is threatened with shutting down because it can’t afford to replace a receptionist who earns $9.00 an hour. The construction sites have filled with water and the bulldozers are silent.

We are now in the new world. In the new world, winter is still cold, summer is still warm, bread, cheese, pickled onion, and a glass of ale is still a ploughman’s lunch, the sky still has windows of translucent distance at sunset after rain, and a wet dog still smells like a wet dog. Perhaps it’s fine in the new world. Perhaps we don’t have to waste this crisis in wailing and gnashing our teeth.

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March 23, 2018
Meadow Rue Merrill, for the New York Times

By Giselle Potter for The New York Times
                                                                                                                          Giselle Potter

“This is it?” My 8-year-old daughter, Lydia, pressed her face against the van window. “This is the farm?”

“I think so.” I steered my van past the weathered barn, dodging pond-size puddles. As far as I could see, the earth looked dead. Dead grass humped beneath mounds of lingering snow. Dead leaves clinging to withered apple trees. Dead fields stretching to the distant pines. In springtime in Maine, nothing seemed alive except the mud.

“Pigs!” my 2-year-old son, Asher, squealed.

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February 14, 2018
Rick Hamlin for The New York Times

Ash Wednesday in New York City, 2001. Credit Greg MillerLent is here, and as a practicing Christian, I know the question is inevitable: “What are you planning to give up?” It’s a tougher decision than it sounds; I look with awe at a woman who gave up sarcasm one Lent. Now, that would be a real hardship.

Lent is the penitential season in the Christian calendar that traditionally runs from Ash Wednesday to Easter. It is 40 days long, not counting Sundays because Sundays are feast days (that woman could indulge in sarcasm on Sundays), and it marks the 40 days and nights Jesus spent in the wilderness before he began his ministry.

Forty is one of those biblical numbers that means a long time and is linked to periods of trial, like the 40 days and nights that the torrential rains floated Noah’s ark, and the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the desert after escaping the pharaoh’s clutches.

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