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PERSPECTIVES on science, theology, and medicine

Breaking the bounds of religion

A growing interest in spirituality is redefining the future of religion

From the April 2001 issue of The Christian Science Journal

IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, one of the main areas of increased public sales in bookstores is in "Mind, Body, Spirit" (MBS) subjects. In contrast, the subject of religion doesn't evoke similar interest. MBS sections in bookstores today are often the largest, doing huge business for the stores. The religion sections are small and usually in less prominent areas.

Tom Harpur is a well-known Canadian theologian, journalist, and bestselling author of numerous books on spiritual matters. A few years back he wrote in The Toronto Sunday Star that although Canadian society is in the midst of a "major spiritual quest," organized religion is in a "crisis" that could wipe it out. He says that while churches "devote themselves to the very issues people care most about right now," most "speak of them in terms that fail totally" to strike the spiritual chords of today's citizens. "For example, religion speaks of salvation whereas contemporary spirituality offers healing or wholeness instead." Harpur says that churches need to examine their "basic concepts" and provide an "answering theology." And he predicts that, without this, churches will "gradually fade and disappear." The Toronto Star, Novermber 1, 1998.

It's apparent that there's a growing disenchantment with religion, and a growing interest in faith, in things of the "mind, body, spirit." The word spirituality is being increasingly used in public discourse, but there seems to be considerable disagreement as to what it actually is.

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