Material spirituality

Challenging Gnostic tendencies in contemporary understandings of religion and spirituality in social work

Authored by: Russell Whiting

The Routledge Handbook of Religion, Spirituality and Social Work

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  April  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138931220
eBook ISBN: 9781315679853
Adobe ISBN:


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The basic premise underlying this chapter is that the material is spiritual. What is resisted is the presupposition, labelled as Gnostic here, that the spiritual realm and the material world are somehow separate and distinct from each other. This latter notion, it will be argued, is an often accepted although possibly not thought through assumption in much contemporary discussion of religion and spirituality in social work, and it leads to workers treating issues of religion and spirituality as somehow different and separate from their day-to-day practical work. This presupposition will be challenged by a focus on the meaning of ‘the body’ in spiritual terms in social work practice.

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