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.

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