Caroline Humphrey



JSS 5.1

Past News

JSS 5.1 Grand Narratives of Spirituality: Some Critical Reflections

by Dr Caroline Humphrey, University of Hull, UK
Journal for the Study of Spirituality 5, no. 1, 2015, pp. 20-32

Grand narratives posit spirituality as the master term undergirding human history and all its cultural and religious formations; individual human becoming in all its moral, psychological, social and transpersonal dimensions; and the therapeutic practices of caring professionals. This sets the scene for a series of isomorphic relations to crystallize between spirituality and culture, spirituality and humanity, spiritual care and holistic care. The result is that pre-existing frameworks drawn from academic disciplines and professional vocabularies can be dislodged to the bewilderment of those located outside the spirituality camp. The risk is that scholars and practitioners who take up residence inside the fortress of a grand narrative of spirituality may allow spiritual premises to prejudice their research and practice. It is argued that scholars need to preserve the epistemological priority of social-scientific categories in studies of contemporary communities; that caring professionals need to reaffirm the ontological priority of humanity in their practice; and that demarcating boundaries between the secular and the spiritual could enhance spirituality scholarship and the work of caring professionals in modern post-secular societies.

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