Portraits of the “Shy Hope”: Engaging Youth Spiritualities in the Australian Context

The Australian spiritual consciousness has been described as “a whisper in the mind, a shy hope in the heart.” This is not a spirituality of explicit religious language or loud evangelicalism but rather a deeply grounded hope, spoken of tentatively and with great care. This description by Gary Bouma alerts us to something very important in the cultural life and consciousness of Australians; namely, the tentative evidence of the sacred. Given its inexplicit and shy nature, such signs of the spiritual could easily be overlooked or dismissed as irrelevant by the secular, mainstream culture with its prioritization of the material and empirical. Alternatively, an overzealous, religious subculture may smother or spook the tentative spiritual expression with too much certainty, doctrine, and proscribed religious ritual. What is needed is a gentler and more respectful approach, a willingness to listen, to observe, to draw forth a fuller sense of the meaning of such hopes in a way that allows individuals and groups to name, explore and cultivate their spirituality. Young Australians are least likely to be engaged with traditional forms of spiritual teaching yet ironically are most likely to engage in an open, non-didactic conversation about spirituality and religion. It is their long-term well-being that is most at risk if access to the spiritual dimension of human flourishing is neglected. In light of this contemporary context, this paper examines three different portraits of spiritual consciousness, specifically in young Australians. An analysis of each of these portraits shows that spirituality does matter and is important for young people in their developing sense of self and place in the world. Furthermore, it is possible and necessary for members of adult communities and spiritual traditions to engage relationally and conversationally with tentative expressions of youth spirituality.

Demands on Hospital-based Chaplains: An Observational Study

This study examined the demands on a hospital-based chaplaincy department; the time spent meeting those demands; and the barriers they experienced. It was conducted over a period of four days with a team of trained data collectors who gathered quantitative and qualitative data associated with nine core processes. While the results revealed a number of notable findings, some of which were consistent with previously published studies, there were a number of unique discoveries. For example, despite concealing their feelings from the public, many of the chaplains expressed feeling devalued and underappreciated based on a perceived disregard for their spiritual contributions to the care of patients, their families and friends, and staff members. This study benefits healthcare chaplaincy in that it draws attention to issues that can seriously impede quality of service and decrease operational efficiency. Opportunities for future research are also presented.

Religious Homophily and Biblicism: A Theory of Conservative Church Fragmentation

According to the most recent demographic datasets, the number of new Christian congregations throughout the world is outpacing the total number of new Christians, suggesting that institutional Christianity has become more proficient at internal division than it has at outward multiplication. Using the psychological phenomenon known as “homophily,” the purpose of this article is to provide a brief elaboration on the sociopsychological reasoning for why conflicts over biblical interpretation may be one of the dominant causes, among other factors, for conservative church splits and for why “biblicism” may cause fragmentation among evangelicals more than their liberal Protestant counterparts. The article will first define and characterize theological conservatism, homophily, and biblicism before discussing the possible correlation between conflicts over biblical interpretation and church fragmentation. The article proposes that theological disagreements over exclusivist scriptural interpretations is a viable explanation for the destabilization of conservative congregations. Church splits among evangelicals are explainable partly because of the conservative tendency toward religious homophily and the need to establish rival congregations built around competing biblical interpretations.