In my first post in this sequence I ask, Why Spirituality? On this Cornerstone page I ask the same question. The marketplace in any community is a place where people pursue their interests, sharing with and learning from each other. Spirituality and religion are one part of that.
Some might object that I diminish spiritulity by placing it alongside commercial transactions and all the other activities that take place in a thriving marketplace, Perhaps I do but the first post suggests spirituality is essentially paying attention and in that sense it is fundamental to all we do.
As such it should not be confused with religion, which also has a role in the marketplace. Religion is applied spirituality, it is a formal sharing of the spiritual experience, where people can join together. It is about awareness formed by doctrine of one type or another.
My Spiritual Roots
I begin as any thelogian should by declaring My Spiritual Roots. I believe if you are serious about religion, you have to commit to something. I explain in this post what I am committed to and what that committment entails. It should never be unquestioning acceptance of the party line. All religions are there to be wrestled with by their insiders. Outsiders can never know enough to form a cogent argument and anyway they're not playing the game!
Because truth is found through conversation and to take part in a conversation, you need something to talk about. Even though you may spend 90% of the time listening (if you're any good at conversation you will), you still need something to contribute. Your contribution is not some party-line mindlessly trotted out at every opportunity. It is the result of allowing the other view to challenge yours. In a good conversation, all views are challenged to dig deeper into their own traditions.
Perhaps Christian Perfection is the worse post title I've ever chosen as it shows no linkage with the over-riding theme of this blog. This post reinforces the last by showing how Methodism encourages a lifetime of exploration, of deepening understanding through encounter with other points of view. Genuine faith always digs deeper into its own tradition and never insists on some point of doctrine. John Wesley put it well when he said he knows as a human being he is in error but he can never be certain of which points he is in error. Everyone can know they must be in error over some points and be prepared to discover their errors through conversation.
This brings us to the topic of Incarnation and Community Development. This is a good example of where a doctrine can lead to numerous practical interpretations. To what extent must a development worker be present in the community where they work? Do you need to live there to be effective?
And so is incarnation online possible in any meaningful sense? Whilst we may be disadvantaged online by having no access to direct experience of a particular neighbourhood, the big advantage is that it opens up the possibility of meaningful communication between distant neighbourhoods. We should never forget the Internet is a machine and as such it can help us but still has its limitations.
And this leads to Prayer in the Marketplace. In this post I look at this in various ways including the street preacher and the presence of places of worship, both legitimate activities in the marketplace. But prayer in the marketplace to be meaningful is something else entirely.
And so at the end of this first section, a post about Spirituality in the Radical Agora. The point of using the Greek word Agora is to distinguish it from marketplace perceived as solely about financial transactions. The radical Agora takes us back to the roots of the marketplace as community.
This section could as easily feature in the Community Development cornerstone page. I've included it here because I believe community assets are a spiritual exercise. We usually think of assets as building or finance but the real challenge is to identify the assets in a neighbourhood outside of the usual sources of information. This means to find the assets you need to know a neighbourhood, talk with its residents and work out together exactly what assets it has. This is a spiritual exercise.
The introductory post, What are Community Assets?, explores the nature of assets and the possibility some of the things we are think of as assets are in fact liabilities. The post goes on to review Asset-Based Community Development's six categories of community assets. These are explored in detail in the next six posts.
- Local Residents' Skills is the first category and whilst perhaps in some ways the most obvious, it can be problematic because building an accurate picture of the skills in a neighbourhood is, I argue, not possible. I suggest seeking people to complete specific tasks is a more fruitful approach.
- Local Associations and the Power They Exercise is an exploration of why organisations exercise power in negative ways. The power of organisations can indeed be positive but it helps to pay attention to what can undermine any organisations' objectives.
- Resources of Public, Private and Non-Profit Institutions are usually subject to the same constraints as local organisations in terms of being assets or liabilities. This post explores community planning and how it aims to bring relevant organisations together to plan and implement change.
- Physical Resources and Ecology are often overlooked! This post explores some possibilities. The question is of course, how these assets can be used to develop a neighbourhood marketplace.
- Economic Resources of Local Places may be a more obvious local asset. This post looks at natural resources and then the type of buinesses likely to be found in most neighbourhoods.
- The Stories and Heritage of Local Places are another asset often overlooked. How can we convey the identity of a neighbourhood, other than by telling its story?
In a final post, Spiritual Assets, I argue that we understand our economy in much the same way as we understand our spirituality. We perceive both as immaterial and should perhaps embrace a physical understanding of both.
Spirituality of the Internet
A Brief History of Computing looks at number systems and the earliest computing machines. The point is it is humans who compute; their machines simply assist them. This post includes a Jake Thackray video!
Spiritual Awareness is an additional response to a comment on the Brief History of Computing post.
The Digital Revolution has led to a movement from analogue measurement to digital, from programs to applications and from professional to amateur. We hardly appreciate the implications of these changes.
I'm really sceptical about Artificial Intelligence and cannot see how it could exist. But if it is possible, how do we know it does not already exist on someone's desk somewhere?
Computing machines have led to a revolution in digital communication. We carry pocket-sized computers that enhance communications but have eroded the professions.
Social Media may not be as brilliant as you think it is ... this post raises questions about the ways we use digital communication.
How can the Internet contribute to the social economy? This post describes 10 online approaches that support local trade.
How do we maintain our integrity when we live our lives through screens? Even if we use the Internet to build relationships it is easy to allow our screens to draw our attention away from the world we live in. This is the challenge of online spirituality and there are some suggestions about how to face up to it.
This is the end of the third section of the spirituality sequence. I have no more posts planned at present but can pick up this theme again in the future. Do you have any ideas about themes I could cover? If so, reply in the comments of one of these posts.
Other Posts about Spirituality
From time to time I have written about spirituality outside of the above sequence. The following is a list of posts in date order, starting with the earliest.
Spirituality in Marketing is an early discussion of the theme of spirituality. Sadly the book about spirituality in marketing was never published. However the post may still be of interest as it discusses how marketing does not have to be all about financial transactions. In two ways we understand wealth, I discuss further insights from the non-existent book.
Generosity of Spirit offers an example of good business practice in a school.
Good Leaders are mortal introduces the theme of mortality and explains, with examples of good practice, why it is so important in any organisation. The Immortal Leader is a companion post that explores the disadvantages of immortality.
This post about humour and organisations asks why so many meetings can be a trial.
Hermeneutics in the Marketplace is a recent post in support of my sequence about spirituality in the marketplace. The post is in support of a book review planned for early 2016.