Magazine article The Christian Century

Spirituality Said to Spur Social Activism. (News)

Magazine article The Christian Century

Spirituality Said to Spur Social Activism. (News)

Article excerpt

Though difficult to define, spirituality often has the power both to propel and sustain people in often-thankless efforts toward social change, says a study completed at the University of Southern California. In-depth interviews with 67 men and women showed they tended to "engage in tailoring a subjectively meaningful practice and worldview" that has "a central role" in their commitment to social justice, the study said.

The report, published by the Ford Foundation, was conducted at the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture, which is directed by Donald Miller, professor of religion at the private university in Los Angeles. Gregory Stanczak, a postdoctoral research fellow, collaborated in the study.

"Our research confirms the potential of spirituality to propel people into social service and public participation," they wrote. "Spirituality is a vital resource, sustaining people in the hard work of social change, and, on regular occasions, inspiring them to imagine possibilities that exceed realistic expectations."

Though those interviewed had backgrounds ranging from Catholic and Protestant Christianity to Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, Miller and Stanczak said they were surprised to learn that many had never before discussed connections between their spirituality and their public or professional lives. …

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