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Religions, Volume 8, Issue 12 (December 2017)

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle “Let’s Imagine Something Different”: Spiritual Principles in Contemporary African American Justice Movements and Their Implications for the Built Environment
Religions 2017, 8(12), 256; doi:10.3390/rel8120256
Received: 16 August 2017 / Revised: 8 November 2017 / Accepted: 13 November 2017 / Published: 23 November 2017
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Abstract
The Black Lives Matter movement has become one of the most visible, controversial, and impactful campaigns to address racialized violence and discrimination in the 21st century. Activists within the movement join traditional forms of social protest and policy development with rituals and spiritual
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The Black Lives Matter movement has become one of the most visible, controversial, and impactful campaigns to address racialized violence and discrimination in the 21st century. Activists within the movement join traditional forms of social protest and policy development with rituals and spiritual practices, drawing upon spiritual resources as a source of transformation and empowerment. The transformative aims of Black Lives Matter and other contemporary African American justice movements address critical areas for reform, like criminal justice, education, and public health, but their vision for reform is broad and extensive, envisioning the creation of a more just world. As such, the physical context for African American life—the buildings and public spaces known as the built environment—is a crucial aspect of social transformation. This essay examines the spirituality of Black Lives Matter and other contemporary African American justice movements and considers how it inspires the ongoing transformation of buildings and public spaces. By analyzing the spiritual practices and themes in the Black Lives Matter movement as described by its founders, this paper identifies three principles and relates them to similar concepts in African American religious thought, womanist ethics, and ecowomanism. Applying these three spiritual principles—liberation, inspiration, and healing—to the design of architecture and public spaces can enrich and affirm African American life. Appealing to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture as an example, this paper articulates the possibilities of architectural projects to symbolically and practically support liberative goals in African American religious systems and political movements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Race and Religion: New Approaches to African American Religions)
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Open AccessArticle Spirituality and Dignity of Thai Adolescents Living with HIV
Religions 2017, 8(12), 257; doi:10.3390/rel8120257
Received: 1 October 2017 / Revised: 7 November 2017 / Accepted: 12 November 2017 / Published: 23 November 2017
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Abstract
(1) Background: Adolescents are a key asset and resource for the social and economic development of any country, with the potential to make a significant contribution to their families, communities and countries. Healthy and educated adolescents are important. However, there are still significant
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(1) Background: Adolescents are a key asset and resource for the social and economic development of any country, with the potential to make a significant contribution to their families, communities and countries. Healthy and educated adolescents are important. However, there are still significant rates of death, illness and disease among adolescents in some countries, where HIV is one of the most prevalent causes of death in this group. Adolescents living with HIV may experience and encounter social restrictions and physiological limitations. Therefore, this investigation explored whether the concepts of spirituality and dignity had any relevance to participants sense of meaning and purpose and whether these had any impact upon their health and well-being (2) Methods: A qualitative descriptive design was used involving twenty-two adolescents living with HIV attending one regional hospital in Southern Thailand. One to one interviews and descriptive diaries were used to collect the data and thematic analysis enabled the identification of attributes of spirituality and dignity. (3) Results: The findings revealed that spirituality and dignity were present in the lives of Thai adolescents living with HIV expressed in the main category of living life responsibly. This comprised of six themes: (a) Understanding the disease and accepting the truth about life, (b) Maintaining hope for a cure, (c) Focusing on life’s purposes, (d) Making life choices, (e) Caring for oneself and (f) Responsibility towards other. (4) Conclusions: The findings provide helpful insights for parents, nurses, and other health professionals supporting adolescents living with HIV to obtain a holistic, dignified approach to care that includes attention to the spiritual dimension. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Multiverse and Divine Creation
Religions 2017, 8(12), 258; doi:10.3390/rel8120258
Received: 2 November 2017 / Revised: 20 November 2017 / Accepted: 22 November 2017 / Published: 24 November 2017
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Abstract
I provide the account of divine creation found in multiverse theorists Donald Turner, Klaas Kraay, and Tim O’Connor. I show that the accounts Kraay and Turner offer are incoherent. God does not survey all possible worlds and necessarily actualize those universes in the
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I provide the account of divine creation found in multiverse theorists Donald Turner, Klaas Kraay, and Tim O’Connor. I show that the accounts Kraay and Turner offer are incoherent. God does not survey all possible worlds and necessarily actualize those universes in the (on balance) good worlds or the worthy worlds. If God necessarily actualizes the multiverse, we have no idea which universes are parts of that multiverse. I show next that Tim O’Connor’s multiverse account of creation is also incoherent. I argue that a preferable multiverse would include a much greater variety of universes than are included in Turner, Kraay or O’Connor. In the last section I offer some concluding remarks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theodicy)
Open AccessArticle Religious Diversity in the Public Sphere: The Canadian Case
Religions 2017, 8(12), 259; doi:10.3390/rel8120259
Received: 6 October 2017 / Revised: 15 November 2017 / Accepted: 18 November 2017 / Published: 27 November 2017
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Abstract
This paper analyzes the contours of religious and nonreligious diversity in the Canadian public sphere. The ever-changing (non)religious landscape offers an opportunity to consider the flow of ideas from this new diversity to responses and choices at the individual, group, and state levels
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This paper analyzes the contours of religious and nonreligious diversity in the Canadian public sphere. The ever-changing (non)religious landscape offers an opportunity to consider the flow of ideas from this new diversity to responses and choices at the individual, group, and state levels to inclusion and exclusion. The paper first begins with a descriptive approach to religious diversity, identifying the normatively-charged nature inherent to measures of religion. It then turns to the notion of choices, considering the somewhat uniquely Canadian contributions of multiculturalism, reasonable accommodation, and the recent complication of nonreligion as a category of religious identity. The paper then considers three case studies which reveal the tensions embedded in the new diversity and responses to it in Canada, including (1) the Saint-Sacrement Hospital crucifix incident; (2) Zunera Ishaq’s challenge to the citizenship ceremony niqab ban; and (3) school controversies in Ontario’s Peel Region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society)
Open AccessArticle How Children Describe the Fruits of Meditation
Religions 2017, 8(12), 261; doi:10.3390/rel8120261
Received: 8 November 2017 / Revised: 24 November 2017 / Accepted: 26 November 2017 / Published: 30 November 2017
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Abstract
Using an interdisciplinary approach and a phenomenological, hermeneutic, mystagogical methodology, this paper explores how children describe the deep fruits of meditation in their lives. Seventy children, aged 7 to 11, from four Irish primary schools were interviewed; all had engaged in meditation as
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Using an interdisciplinary approach and a phenomenological, hermeneutic, mystagogical methodology, this paper explores how children describe the deep fruits of meditation in their lives. Seventy children, aged 7 to 11, from four Irish primary schools were interviewed; all had engaged in meditation as a whole-school practice for at least two-years beforehand. The study sought to elicit from children their experience, if any, of the transcendent in meditation. It concludes that children can and do enjoy deep states of consciousness and that meditation has the capacity to nourish the innate spirituality of the child. It highlights the importance of personal spiritual experience for children and supports the introduction of meditation in primary schools. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Tripartite Structure of General Halachic Principles in the Bavli
Religions 2017, 8(12), 262; doi:10.3390/rel8120262
Received: 24 August 2017 / Revised: 18 November 2017 / Accepted: 20 November 2017 / Published: 30 November 2017
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Abstract
The paper introduces the tripartite structure used to shape principles of halachah. The unique design is expressed in a formal style consisting of three statements made by different sages, where each statement contains three halachic principles that have been grouped together in
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The paper introduces the tripartite structure used to shape principles of halachah. The unique design is expressed in a formal style consisting of three statements made by different sages, where each statement contains three halachic principles that have been grouped together in one place in the passage. The design of the halachic principles using a tripartite structure also clarifies the absence of additional halachic rules and the lack of material discussion of the halachah principles brought in the passage. The aim and the importance of this article is in presenting the design of halachic principles in the form of a tripartite structure, as well as how this pattern emerged and the special style of its appearance in the passage. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Historical Foundations of Religious Restrictions in Contemporary China
Religions 2017, 8(12), 263; doi:10.3390/rel8120263
Received: 12 October 2017 / Revised: 28 November 2017 / Accepted: 29 November 2017 / Published: 1 December 2017
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Abstract
The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) abolished its total ban on religious activities in 1982. However, the distrust that the CCP feels for religions remains obvious today, and the religious restrictions in contemporary China remain tight. Conventional wisdom tells us that the official
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The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) abolished its total ban on religious activities in 1982. However, the distrust that the CCP feels for religions remains obvious today, and the religious restrictions in contemporary China remain tight. Conventional wisdom tells us that the official atheist ideology of Marxism-Leninism is the main reason behind the CCP’s distrust for, and restriction of, religion. However, taking a historical institutionalist perspective, this paper argues that the religious restrictions in contemporary China are in fact rooted in the fierce political struggles of the country’s two major revolutions in the first half of the twentieth century. Without the support of religious groups, the Nationalist Republicans would have found it difficult to survive and succeed in overthrowing the Qing Dynasty during the Chinese Republican Revolution in the first decade of the twentieth century. Likewise, without cooperating with a wide range of religious groups, the CCP would have struggled to defeat the Nationalist regime and the Japanese invaders in the Chinese Communist Revolution between 1920s and 1940s. Thanks to the collaborations and struggles with various religious groups during the two revolutions which lead to its eventual ascent to power, the CCP thoroughly understands the organisational strength and mobilising capability embedded within religious groups. The tight restrictions on religious affairs in contemporary China is therefore likely to stem from the CCP’s worry that prospective competitors could mobilise religious groups to challenge its rule through launching, supporting, or sponsoring collective actions. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Pope Francis and Joseph Selling: A New Approach to Mercy in Catholic Sexual Ethics
Religions 2017, 8(12), 264; doi:10.3390/rel8120264
Received: 17 August 2017 / Revised: 18 October 2017 / Accepted: 8 November 2017 / Published: 3 December 2017
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Abstract
Since the Apostolic Exhortation of Amoris Laetitia in May 2016 and Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera in November 2016, Pope Francis has stirred a new discussion on mercy and the role of mercy in certain matters of sexual ethics including divorced, remarried, and
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Since the Apostolic Exhortation of Amoris Laetitia in May 2016 and Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera in November 2016, Pope Francis has stirred a new discussion on mercy and the role of mercy in certain matters of sexual ethics including divorced, remarried, and cohabiting couples. During the same year, moral theologian Joseph A. Selling published a revolutionary book which provides a new vision of virtues and examines how people consider and arrive at ethical judgements. This article examines Pope Francis’s understanding of mercy using Selling’s method of the “virtuous trapezium” as a way to actively illustrate Pope Francis’s new approach to matters concerning Catholic sexuality. In matters of human sexuality, the Catholic moral tradition has focused for years on an act-centered morality, but Selling’s method instead considers the goals of ethical living before making an ethical judgment. This article contributes to the current discussion in theological ethics concerning Pope Francis’s recent pronouncements on mercy and Catholic sexual ethics, as well as brings into conversation Selling’s new method and approach to understanding virtue. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Future of Catholic Theological Ethics)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Liminality, Postmodernity and Passion: Towards a Theoretical Framework for the study of 21st Century Choral Passion Settings
Religions 2017, 8(12), 265; doi:10.3390/rel8120265
Received: 11 October 2017 / Revised: 21 November 2017 / Accepted: 30 November 2017 / Published: 7 December 2017
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Abstract
After more than a century of neglect of the form, over thirty major concert works with “Passion” within the title have emerged into the choral landscape during the past 50 years. These settings use diverse libretti, drawing from sources both sacred and secular;
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After more than a century of neglect of the form, over thirty major concert works with “Passion” within the title have emerged into the choral landscape during the past 50 years. These settings use diverse libretti, drawing from sources both sacred and secular; some of the composers of these works profess Christianity, some adhere to other religious traditions, and some do not profess any particular faith at all. Their only common threads seem to be their self-identification with the title of “Passion”, and their depiction of a story in which a particular individual undergoes suffering and death. The purpose of this article is not to analyze specific Passion settings but rather to explore the structural form and content of the Passion genre as a whole, and begin to develop an interdisciplinary framework for future analysis of this body of music, using the tools offered by the field of liminal studies. Additionally, this essay will explore how the concept of Postmodernism, both as it manifests both in Western culture and through that culture’s artistic and musical expression, might give some insight into the Passion form’s resurgence into modern musical thought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Music: Its Theologies and Spiritualities—A Global Perspective)
Open AccessArticle From Contextual Theology to African Christianity: The Consideration of Adiaphora from a South African Perspective
Religions 2017, 8(12), 266; doi:10.3390/rel8120266
Received: 7 November 2017 / Revised: 4 December 2017 / Accepted: 6 December 2017 / Published: 8 December 2017
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Abstract
The move towards contextual Christianity in Africa is an essential venture if Christianity is to communicate with the African cultural heritage. As a universal religion, Christianity has to find an expression within the cultural context. However, the contextualization of Christianity in Africa appears
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The move towards contextual Christianity in Africa is an essential venture if Christianity is to communicate with the African cultural heritage. As a universal religion, Christianity has to find an expression within the cultural context. However, the contextualization of Christianity in Africa appears to have permitted the practice of syncretism. It has resulted in the emergence of African Christianity, which is the amalgamation of Christianity and African Traditional Religion. The amalgamation of Christianity and African Traditional Religion appears to overlook the essence of both religions as there is currently no clarity on how Christianity can best be expressed within the African cultural and religious heritage. This paper employs the document review method to explore the things that fall in between—“adiaphora”, which the proponents of contextual Christianity may have overlooked with regard to the African cultural and religious heritage. These include the pragmatic nature of the African cultural and religious heritage, and the African traditional methods of healing. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Identifying Ingrained Historical Cognitive Biases Influencing Contemporary Pastoral Responses Depriving Suicide-Bereaved People of Essential Protective Factors
Religions 2017, 8(12), 267; doi:10.3390/rel8120267
Received: 15 October 2017 / Revised: 25 November 2017 / Accepted: 3 December 2017 / Published: 8 December 2017
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Abstract
(1) Background: Historically and collectively, the Church has not responded to suicide-bereaved people with compassion, denying pastoral care in the form of spiritual, emotional, and practical support, considered key protective factors along with community support in facilitating funeral rite for their loved one
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(1) Background: Historically and collectively, the Church has not responded to suicide-bereaved people with compassion, denying pastoral care in the form of spiritual, emotional, and practical support, considered key protective factors along with community support in facilitating funeral rite for their loved one in their deepest, darkest, hour of need, thereby placing them at risk to disenfranchised grief. (2) Aims: The study explores the presence of historical ingrained cognitive biases in contemporary pastoral responses from caregivers within Evangelical and Pentecostal streams. (3) Methods: Caregivers were provided with training offering greater understanding of the multifarious issues involved in the life of a person who has died by suicide and challenges faced by the bereaved. Responses to pre-workshop self-contemplating surveys based on workshop objectives were then compared to post-workshop survey responses of participant’s subjective evaluation of knowledge and skills gained through information presented. (4) Results: Post-workshop survey data revealed healthy shifts in historically ingrained cognitive biases; (5) Conclusions: These shifts provide the foundation for future pastoral encounters to offer spiritual, emotional, and practical support, considered key protective factors for those bereaved by suicide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Suicide Prevention, Religion and Spirituality)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle On the Question at the End of Theodicy
Religions 2017, 8(12), 268; doi:10.3390/rel8120268
Received: 8 November 2017 / Revised: 29 November 2017 / Accepted: 1 December 2017 / Published: 8 December 2017
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Abstract
This article argues that theodicy provides an insufficient response to suffering - one that often further victimizes those who suffering most. In it’s place, I argue for a moralist response based on Albert Camus and W. E. B. Du Bois. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Theodicy)
Open AccessArticle Validation of the SpREUK—Religious Practices Questionnaire as a Measure of Christian Religious Practices in a General Population and in Religious Persons
Religions 2017, 8(12), 269; doi:10.3390/rel8120269
Received: 28 November 2017 / Revised: 6 December 2017 / Accepted: 8 December 2017 / Published: 9 December 2017
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Abstract
Measures of spirituality should be multidimensional and inclusive and as such be applicable to persons with different worldviews and spiritual-religious beliefs and attitudes. Nevertheless, for distinct research purposes it may be relevant to more accurately differentiate specific religious practices, rituals and behaviors. It
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Measures of spirituality should be multidimensional and inclusive and as such be applicable to persons with different worldviews and spiritual-religious beliefs and attitudes. Nevertheless, for distinct research purposes it may be relevant to more accurately differentiate specific religious practices, rituals and behaviors. It was thus the aim of this study to validate a variant version of the SpREUK-P questionnaire (which measures frequency of engagement in a large spectrum of organized and private religious, spiritual, existential and philosophical practices). This variant version was enriched with items addressing specific rituals and practices of Catholic religiosity, by further differentiating items of praying and meditation. The instrument was then tested in a sample of Catholics (inclusively nuns and monks), Protestants, and in non-religious persons. This 23-item SpREUK-RP (Religious Practices) questionnaire has four factors (i.e., Prosocial-Humanistic practices; General religious practices; Catholic religious practices; Existentialistic practices/Gratitude and Awe) and good internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha ranging from 0.84 to 0.94). An advantage of this instrument is that it is not generally contaminated with items related to persons’ well-being, and it is not intermixed with specific religious attitudes and convictions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Measures of Spirituality/Religiosity (2018))
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Open AccessArticle Taxonomy Construction and the Normative Turn in Religious Studies
Religions 2017, 8(12), 270; doi:10.3390/rel8120270
Received: 1 September 2017 / Revised: 4 December 2017 / Accepted: 6 December 2017 / Published: 13 December 2017
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Abstract
Jonathan Z. Smith contends that a taxonomic agenda underlies the study of religion. Before Smith, structuralist scholars saw it as their task to uncover the roots of human taxonomic arrangements that present themselves as natural. Drawing somewhat anachronistically on Smith’s taxonomic model, I
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Jonathan Z. Smith contends that a taxonomic agenda underlies the study of religion. Before Smith, structuralist scholars saw it as their task to uncover the roots of human taxonomic arrangements that present themselves as natural. Drawing somewhat anachronistically on Smith’s taxonomic model, I argue that underlying investigative categories posed by structural anthropologists are operative strategies of subjective value and valuation. I employ Smith to amend structuralist classificatory paradigms and to speak to questions of normativity, values, and concealed agendas in the contemporary study of religion. Smith’s comparative program serves as a fertile territory of encounter between divergent religious studies subfields. In short, I argue that although the normative turn in religious studies has generally succeeded in deconstructing appeals to scholarly objectivity, it faces challenges along other parameters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Description, Prescription, and Value in the Study of Religion)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Encountering Transcendence: Žižek, Liberation Theology and African Thought in Dialogue
Religions 2017, 8(12), 271; doi:10.3390/rel8120271
Received: 21 October 2017 / Revised: 27 November 2017 / Accepted: 7 December 2017 / Published: 12 December 2017
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Abstract
The concept of transcendence has been described by various academic disciplines like philosophy, theology, art and literature, but also by various religions and cultures. This has also been the case with the three traditions that are brought into dialogue in this special issue,
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The concept of transcendence has been described by various academic disciplines like philosophy, theology, art and literature, but also by various religions and cultures. This has also been the case with the three traditions that are brought into dialogue in this special issue, namely critical theory, African thought and Liberation theology. In this article I will focus on transcendence as it is ‘encountered’ by the philosopher Slavoj Žižek as a postmetaphysical thinker and as a voice from critical theory. Žižek’s emphasis on the ‘gap in immanence’ and its implications for freedom will then be brought into dialogue with African thought and Liberation theology. Transcendence as an entry point in this dialogue has the potential not only to give more insight into these traditions, but also to advance the concept of freedom, which is central in all these traditions. Full article

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Open AccessFeature PaperConference Report Spirituality in the Healthcare Workplace
Religions 2017, 8(12), 260; doi:10.3390/rel8120260
Received: 23 June 2017 / Revised: 5 October 2017 / Accepted: 30 October 2017 / Published: 28 November 2017
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Abstract
Spirituality involves a sense of connectedness, meaning making and transcendence. There is abundant published research that focuses on the importance of spirituality to patients and their families during times of illness and distress. However over the last decade there has also been a
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Spirituality involves a sense of connectedness, meaning making and transcendence. There is abundant published research that focuses on the importance of spirituality to patients and their families during times of illness and distress. However over the last decade there has also been a growing awareness about the importance of considering the need to address peoples’ spiritual needs in the workplace. Engaging in ones own personal spirituality involves connecting with the inner self, becoming more self aware of ones humanity and limitations. Engaging with ones personal spirituality can also mean that people begin to greater find meaning and purpose in life and at work. This may be demonstrated in the workplace by collegial relationships and teamwork. Those who engage with their own spirituality also engage more easily with others through a connectedness with other staff and by aligning their values with the respective organization if they fit well with ones personal values. Workplace spirituality is oriented towards self-awareness of an inner life which gives meaning, purpose and nourishment to the employees’ dynamic relationships at the workplace and is eventually also nourished by meaningful work. Exercising ones personal spirituality contributes towards generating workplace spirituality. Essentially acting from ones own personal spirituality framework by being in doing can contribute towards a person becoming a healing and therapeutic presence for others, that is nourishing in many workplaces. Personal spirituality in healthcare can be enhanced by: reflection in and on action; role-modeling; taking initiative for active presence in care; committing oneself to the spiritual dimension of care; and, integrating spirituality in health caregivers’ education. As spirituality is recognized as becoming increasingly important for patients in healthcare, increasing educational opportunities are now becoming available for nurses internationally that could support personal and workplace spirituality. Full article
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