Since the beginning of the 21st Century, many people have been asking whether religion is being replaced by spirituality as the way in which people connect with questions of meaning and transcendence. Linda Woodhead, Distinguishes Professor in the Department of Politics, Philosophy & Religion at Lancaster University, has recently suggested that ‘values’ are becoming the new religion, and this raises questions about what we might mean when we talk about religion and spirituality.
As someone who has wrestled with questions of religion and spirituality the whole of my adult life, and whose job it has been to think professionally about these things as an Anglican priest, I would like to invite you into the continuing conversation I am having with these important but difficult questions.
My doctoral research project Wrestling with Benedict: Monasticism and Modernity looks at how people continue to be fascinated by the monastic life even though vocations to that life are declining in the same way as membership of the church is declining in the west. Could it be that religion, and the monastic life in particular, point us to something that is missing from modern life?