Monthly Archives: April 2016

Essay: Theorizing Christian Spirituality: The Sacred, Identity & Everyday Practices, by Philip Sheldrake

Philip Sheldrake’s essay appears in Sacrality and Materiality: Locating Intersections (2016, pp. 27-40). Here is Philip’s opening paragraph:

My fundamental contention is that Christian spirituality cannot transcend the realm of materiality or escape the limitations of historical context. However, the way “spirituality” has sometimes been presented masks certain anti-material theological positions represented by a number of polarities. These express a hierarchy of values. Examples are interiority versus social existence, the experiential versus action (encouraging the separation of spirituality and ethics), and an elevated spiritual realm versus the mundane. I wish to begin by mentioning briefly two core issues – the nature of the sacred and the question of inwardness. I then want to suggest that an important corrective is the theological notion of “sacramentality.” Finally, the main part of this essay will concentrate on the multidisciplinary thought of the French Jesuit scholar, Michel de Certeau. De Certeau was a major figure in the development of the modern study of Christian spirituality and of mysticism. However, my focus will be on how his later social scientific work on The Practice of Everyday Life, including essays on the city, was influenced by spiritual values.

Book: Sacrality and Materiality: Locating Intersections, edited by Rebecca Giselbrecht and Ralph Kunz

This book, co-edited by SSCS member Rebecca Giselbrecht and published this year by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, contains essays by other SSCS members. Here’s a summary from the publisher’s website:

Christian theology traditionally regards the sacramental as the polar opposite of the profane. The polarity is a memorial of contemporary desacralization, profanization, and sacralization that stands as a portal to the story of modern reality. In our liminal space, we neither de-sacralize our environs nor re-sacralize the world. The lines are blurred and our perception of spirituality is neither immanent nor transcendent.
This conference volume seeks to reply to the questions: Where does the sacred intersect with the material? What happens when they meet?

Rebecca is the Director of the Center for the Study of Christian Spirituality, a research network for scholars located at the Theological Faculty of the University of Zurich.