Thinking about Suburban Spirituality

I decided to read The Blackwell Companion to Christian Spirituality. It has occured to me that I have become bogged down in the epistemological concerns section of the dissertation and have not attended well to the actual core of my research, which is the topic of spirituality. Thus, I have endeavored to read this primary text which, editor Holder says, maps out the basic program for the PhD in Spirituality at Graduate Theological Union. It is probably an important document for me to know well.

Today I read this quote from Bonnie Thurston in her essay, “The New Testament in Christian Spirituality.” She says,

The New Testament, then, premises an invitation from an inititiatory power which calls for a response. Something, indeed, someone from outside the finite and human initiates a relationship with individuals by means of a manifestation of power. The response is a life turned toward that power: how that response is lived out is ‘spirituality.’ Insofar as it has an ‘affective’ quality, spirituality encompasses not only the will that decides to respond, but also the emotions. Insofar as it seeks to integrate faith and action, spirituality has an ethical component. Insofar as it is done in the company of others, it is communal. (58)

She goes on to say that each individual in the New Testament has a unique spirituality and that we must take into account the historical/religious/socio-politcal context of each person if we are going to understand that person’s spirituality.

That made me think about the suburbs. My research is looking at the personal spirituality of 18 individuals. They are united by the fact that they live in the Northwest suburban region of the Twin Cities Metro, and that they each attend an ELCA congregation. Yet, each of them has a unique story and a unique response to the calling from that power we name as the triune God, revealed through Jesus, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a helpful framework and reminder for my discussion of spirituality in the context of this research.