Simply Christian – The Hidden Spring (Ch. 2)

In chapter 2, Wright talks about the current hunger for “spirituality,” and uses a metaphor of the hidden spring to describe the way religion and “spirituality” have broken through into the forefront. According to Wright, after 9/11 we can no longer ignore the impact that religion has on the everyday world, even though religion has been carefully segregated in the modern West from everything from politics to economics to art. He writes, “September 11, 2001, serves as a reminder of what happens when you try to organize a world on the assumption that religion and spirituality are merely private matters, and that what really matters is economics and politics instead (p. 20).”

To Wright, the hidden spring of spirituality breaking into full view is the second feature of human life that suggest an echo of a voice. This hunger for the transcendent points away from modern secularism and toward a possibility that humans are made for more. The current quest for spirituality in the modern West contrasts with the global tendency to merge religious thought with everyday life, as is seen in Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, and Central & South America.

He goes on to explain that the current move toward spirituality is to be expected from a Christian viewpoint. “If anything like the Christian story is true…this interest is exactly what we should expect because in Jesus we glimpse a God who loves people and wants them to know and respond to that love (p. 24).” Yet part of our story as Christians is that humans are damaged by evil and need more than self-knowledge and better social conditions. Instead, we need rescue and help from outside of ourselves.

Of course this is by no means a consensus, and Wright describes an alternative in the work and thougth of Freud. Spirituality could simply be a projection of our hopes writ large. On the other hand, Wright reminds that we can embrace the current search for spirituality by embracing relativism i.e. certain things are true for certain people. However, he argues that this skews the meaning of the word truth. One can see that Wright has a particular view of truth as well. I wonder if this is the view of truth that can respond to the questions raised by Freud and the relativists.

“[the search for spirituality] may be the echo of a voice – a voice which is calling, not so loudly as to compel each of us to listen whether we choose to or not, but not so quietly as to be drowned out altogether by the noises going on in our heads and our world (p. 27).”

I believe Wright is on to something even though he again fails to deal in significant depth with philosophical questions of truth and the inner need for spirituality. One might argue as well that he paints the global picture of seperation of secular and sacred with far too broad a brush. Yet, as a Christian, I agree that our inner hunger for ‘something more’ is suggestive of a need for the transcendent presence of one who reaches out to fill that need.

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