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Pop Spirituality
What's Hot and What's Not
lab7.jpg (52814 bytes)

My labyrinth is an image map;
click on names and spheres to find out more about
what's hot and what's not in pop spirituality.


Have you ever noticed how the word "spirituality" has replaced the word "religion," and "spiritual" has replaced "religious," in common use these days?  This language shift is a symptom for a much larger and more important tendency for people to practice their faith outside the bounds of organized religion. But once the passions of religious conviction are let loose upon the world, unchained to any particular tradition or discipline, all sorts of new and wonderful things begin to happen, some quite positive, others much less so.  The ideas of a Matthew Fox, for example, are very creative.  While the doctrines of the Heaven's Gate cult group were obviously very destructive.  Given the widespread popularity of all things spiritual, there is a need for a review of what's hot and what's not in the spiritual arena these days.  In that context, we offer the following.

The design featured above was rendered in a great cathedral during the middle ages; today "the labyrinth" has become one of the most familiar icons of pop spirituality.  But in this fast-changing field, leaders, movements, ideas, books, even entire institutions come and go, rise and fall, are born and die, often with the life span of a may fly. By way of tracking what's in and what's out, I use the labyrinth design as a grid.  Then I identify a particular item with a red or blue sphere. If it's red, and approaching the center of the labyrinth, you'll see it on TV, read books about in at the Barnes and Nobles Cafe, and hear it talked about at cocktail parities this summer in the Hamptons.  If it's blue, and moving toward the periphery of the labyrinth, books about it are in the remainder basket at Strand, and anyone interested in it may either have been preoccupied with other interests in recent months, or have developed such a lasting involvement with it that popularity no longer counts. I'll update the labyrinth chart on a regular basis to track the latest trends in pop spirituality. 

Imagemap of  labyrinth ©Charles Henderson

Charles Henderson

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and author of Faith, Science and the Future, published in 1994 by CrossCurrents Press. He is also the author of God and Science (John Knox / Westminster, 1986) which he is now rewriting to incorporate more recent developments in the conversation taking place between scientists and theologians. He has also written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The Nation, Commonweal, The Christian Century and others.

For further information about Charles Henderson.