This paper explores the current and extraordinarily diverse concept of spirituality, particularly as it relates to healthcare practices. It suggests that there is no such ‘thing’ (singular) as spirituality. Rather it is a ‘made up’ concept that helps us to understand certain things about human beings and human living. It is in this sense that there is no such ‘thing’ (singular) as spirituality. However, once we ‘make up’ spirituality(s) and create ‘spiritual people’ who require ‘spiritual care’, and then enshrine that in our policies and values, the concept of spirituality becomes extremely important and practically significant. This paper argues that the ongoing discussions around whether or not spirituality is ‘real’ or otherwise miss the practical point that spirituality may be necessary even if it is not ‘real’.
This article was first delivered as a keynote speech at the Third International Conference of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality, Spirituality in a Challenging World.
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