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Paying attention pays

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Arthur Holder is an Anglican priest and Professor of Christian Spirituality at  Berkeley College, California. His lecture on ‘Faces of Spirituality’ pleased a large crowd gathered in All Hallows College for the annual William Johnston SJ memorial lecture on Tuesday 8 October.  He believes that ‘attention’ is the key to a deep spiritual life.

Professor Holder was here at the invitation of Dr Michael O’Sullivan SJ who is director of the MA in Applied Spirituality in All Hallows College. Michael hosted him for a week during which Professor Holder gave an extended interview to Pat Coyle which will be broadcast over a number of weeks on local radio.

In that interview he defines what he believes is meant by spirituality and distinguishes between it and religion, acknowledging that many people nowadays are fond of making the point that they are ‘spiritual but not religious’. Asked if he believes there is such a thing as an ‘atheist spirituality’ he answers in the affirmative and explains why.

He also points out that what many people describe today as ‘new age’ spirituality is in fact part of a very old tradition which is eclectic in nature and features the author of the spirituality as being the individual who claims it.

He talks about evil and the possibility of a ‘bad’ spirituality but says that at its core all spirituality features people searching for ‘something more’, engaging with the pull to transcendence in some form or other no matter how disparate the forms might be.

He says that whilst there are many different schools of spirituality both within Christianity and outside it, they all have in common the belief that the act of paying attention is what will most nourish and deepen the spiritual life.

You can listen to the full interview here.