John Williams



JSS 1.1

Past News

JSS 1.1 From Habitus to Critique: Teaching Christian Spirituality to Christians in an Academic Programme

by Revd Dr John Williams, York St John University, UK
Journal for the Study of Spirituality 1, no. 1, 2011, pp. 94-111

Particular issues arise for learning when spirituality is taught as an academic subject to students who are themselves religious practitioners. There are questions about the scope of study and the definition of ‘spirituality’, especially concerning the relationship between ‘spirituality’ and religion at a time when the latter term is often regarded in a negative light compared with the former. Further, students may struggle to find a means of analysing personal spirituality when this is conceived as a characteristic of the ‘inner life’ and hence largely unseen. Additionally, there may be a reluctance to submit spirituality to critical scrutiny and to think theologically about it, on the grounds that the sacredness of the subject matter renders it untouchable. This article deploys a range of sociological and historical insights to address these problems and suggests elements that need to be built into the design of academic modules on Christian spirituality if students who are themselves practising Christians are to be able to benefit from critically reflective learning in this field.

To read the full article, click here.