Thursday, August 25, 2005


Hauerwas on spirituality and disciplines

I gave up on the language of spirituality because the assholes got it. Spirituality became a way to talk about a universal need that we all have that can be expressed through any religion some way or the other. This kind of individualistic, getting-myself-right with the powers of the world, I’m not sympathetic toward it. I am very sympathetic toward exercises that have been well explored through centuries of Christian practice that are now embodied in wise people that can teach you how to go on. But, never forget, the Devil’s a spirit and the Devil can appear as a spirit of discernment, and so you have to be very careful with that. I wouldn’t want to be among the proponents of spirituality today. I’m more than willing, though, to talk about prayer, fasting, obedience, silence. I regard spirituality as learning how to talk. What that means is not being afraid of your “first order” religious convictions, and that you can just say it. The Psalms are “first order” religious convictions, so I take a lot of comfort from the Psalms.

Day 3

Day 2

Day 1


Zoomdaddy said...

Love the first comment. I would add that there truly is no such thing as "spirituality" or anything "spiritual" unless it originates and is directed by the Holy Spirit.

John Wilks said...

He didn't pull any punches, did he?

But in a nutshell, he really pins the problem with spiritualism.

By the same token, I often refer to myself as a traditionalist Christain rather than a conservative one because the a-holes who couldn't get a share of "spiritualism" seem to have taken over "conservatism" instead.

St.Phransus said...

I think we're kindred spirits.

shalom bro,


Nancy Smith said...

So Hauerwas gave up “on the language of spirituality because the assholes got it.” Doesn’t he realize that the Christian language has also been taken over by people like Pat Robinson and others who want to make the U.S. a theocracy?

I agree with his disagreement with the “individualistic, getting-myself-right with the powers of the world.”

I gave up the “born again” description when it became a noun “Are you a born-again?” with no cultural understanding of the term. And so far I refuse to give up the term “Christian.” On the other hand, many who have been abused and persecuted by religious fundamentalism have laudably given up both their original label and also the term “religion” in favor of the more general and inclusive, pluralistic term “spirituality.”

That term may outlive its usefulness, but for now it is no more inclined to point to an individualistic self-serving faith than fundamentalist Christianity (or fundamentalist Islam or fundamentalist what-have you).

For the time being, my passion is to open up our workplaces to all spiritualities, all faith expressions, all contributions to ethical decision-making. In doing that I carefully define spirituality as “the inborn desire and ability of every person to seek, know, and respond to the Mystery that I call God.” ( ) I also warn against “junk-food” spirituality. ( )

St.Phransus said...

I cannot even begin to speak for Dr. Hauerwas although I can speculate that he might address your issue by saying that neither the fundamentalists get it with their pharisaical form of Christianity or the kind of faith that does not feel it can be expressed by the particular language and way of life that Christianity offers.

When one claims to be spiritual but not neccessarily religious one perhaps runs the risk of giving up the particular practices, particular "way of life" that comes with following Christ and Christ's community.

Both of these (the fundies and the "spiritual but not religious") perhaps fall into the same falicy of seeing faith as individualistic and not communal. But ultimately for Hauerwas following Christ means being part of a Community that embodies a certain set of practices that are tied to a tradition (the Church).

thanks for your thoughts, much to chew on and process.