Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Leisure and Spirituality

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Leisure and Spirituality

Article excerpt

Spirituality plays an important role in the life of Americans. A recent survey of religious identification found that 90% of the American population identified themselves as religious (Goldman, 1991). Research at the Princeton Religion Research Center found that 94% of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit, 69% are members of a church or synagogue, 55% view religion as "very important," prayer is an important part of daily life for 43%, and 61% believe religion can answer most of today's problems (Bezilla, 1991). Despite the centrality of spirituality in American life, there is a paucity of empirical research on the relationship between spirituality and leisure. MacDonald, Guldin, and Whetherhill (1988) proposed two reasons for the lack of attention to this topic. First, much leisure research is government funded, and spirituality has often been viewed as inappropriate for government participation. Second, clear understanding of what the term "spirituality" means leads to ambiguity in operational applications.

McDonald and Schreyer (1991) noted that for many people, spirituality suggests some notion of a Divine Being, yet, spiritual experience is not necessarily synonymous with religious experience. They suggested that a more general definition may be a person's attempt to understand his/her "Place" in the universe. This article will review recent research on leisure and spirituality. Descriptive and theoretical studies will be reviewed as well as leisure factors influencing spiritual experience and benefits of spiritual experience. Following the lead of McDonald and Schreyer (1991) the terms religious and spiritual will be used interchangeably in this article.

Descriptive Studies

Several descriptive articles about leisure and spirituality exist. Sylvester (1987) reviewed literature which described the absolute ultimate end (the highest good) and its relation to play, leisure, and recreation. …

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