Welcome

This web-site is to examine the issues raised in the book Dispirited  (Zero books, 2012), and extend discussion of the topics within it.

For my philosophy, religion, literature, history and culture video-interview blog – hop over to http://philosvids.wordpress.com/ 

The ongoing discussion about Dispirited can be seen via the Blog pages here. There is also a tumblr photo blog, which showcases any relevant or interesting images.

The main concerns of this site/blog are the relationship between spirituality, religion and atheism. Below is a passage from the book, which gives a sense of my view – but please do use the blog pages to give your own take on these issues.

Cheers, Dave W.

 My overall aspiration here is not merely, or at all really, to dispute the existence of a ‘spiritual’ component in the psycho-physical phenomena of human beings. Neither is it to rehearse increasingly tired, and tiring, arguments about a supposed clash between atheists, secularists and theists. What I find both more compelling, and more urgent, is the extent to which discourses of spirituality, from new-age ’Mind, Body and Spirit’  advocates, and to a minor extent from within established traditions who propagate an account of their own ‘contemporary spirituality’, are intellectually and culturally harmful. I would go further, and at the risk of sounding alarmist and bombastic, suggest that these discourses are a form of poison that taints not only critical and social realms, but also does violence to our potential to be authentic, happy(ish) and fulfilled human beings.

19 comments

  1. David Cross · · Reply

    Hi Dave. Thats a pretty interesting out look. Curious to know why certain spiritual discourses may be pioson, I’ll have to read the book.
    Thanks for your support Re our blogs. Must meet up for a session at Gandalfs.
    Can’t find you on Twitter, I’m back on there now. @basecubic7a See you.

    1. Twitter? @davidwebster is me- I’ll follow you anyway!

      Might be a while till I can do a session- I’ll explain when I see you..
      Cheers, d.

  2. Ricky Manders · · Reply

    Just listened to the radio interview on “Tapestry”. Very interesting and enjoyed it immensely. I totally agree with your view that the practice of “cherry picking” fragments of belief has led to an inward looking viewpoint for those that practice this form of belief. However, I also noticed that the language used in discussing atheism (I am an “each to their own” atheist) is constantly couched in terms of conflict – for instance the use of “arena”, “battle”, “conflict” in describing discussions between theists and atheists. I would be interested to know your thoughts on whether, and to what extent, you think that this use of language is apparent within the spiritualist/theist/atheist discourse.

    1. Ricky – thanks: glad the interview was interesting – I really enjoyed doing it..

      I think you may be right – the debates between theists and atheists seem to be ever more polarised of late- and generate a lot more heat than light!

      Given that they have become ever more entrenched (and based on a very particular conception of what religion is – on both sides) it is not surprising that an astute observer would note a preponderance of martial language. They seem to often be about ‘winning’, and about defeating your opponent..

  3. TS Low · · Reply

    I totally agreed with your analysis. Contemporary Spirituality is like suit-case medicine peddled by quack doctors who usually offer “quick fix” solutions to appeal to ignorant victims.

  4. Lafayette Ann · · Reply

    My church has become spiritual. Never thought you’d hear that compliant, did you?

    The Unitarian Universalist church I have been attending – and which in years past could be counted on to be solidly humanist – defined as someone who is trying to live up to the best of what humanity can be – has become increasingly a place for people who are ‘spiritual’. New members explore crystals and mandalas and solstices and powers of positive thinking.

    I personally yearn for a humanist church. A religious community for the non-spiritual. A community that would strive to support people as they struggle to be good, to live ethical lives at home and in the greater community. It would meet regularly to share music, poetry, literature, and science about the best qualities of and the ongoing struggles of humans.

    Maybe it’s a good book club. Sigh.

  5. John C. Kenwell · · Reply

    David: Heard you on CBC radio. Got your book. Read it 3 times in a week. I have been a small “c” Christian my entire life. Your book, which I read to help my MBS “spiritual” wife, has augmented a change in my life. I’m 58, a retired teacher, writer… Before reading “Dispirited” I had determined my life would be devoted to finding my authentic self, and loving and serving those around me. The lines in your book -In a short life, we can do little-but we can do more than nothing. That gap between nothing and little is where we have a space to carve out a meaning for our life.- are the most succinct instructions that any intelligent, compassionate, caring person need follow. Thank you so much for your work.
    MBS/modern bull shit; i couldn’t agree more with your assessment of “the new age” and its valuable “ancient wisdom”.
    You have positively changed my life by solidifying where I was hoping to go. Thank you.
    PS: The copy of your book that I read had a number of typos; as a writer and proofreader, I would gladly lend a hand for your next work. However, despite the minor blemishes, the message of “Dispirited” was delivered with wisdom, passion, integrity, applicability, and power.
    John Kenwell, Barrie, Ontario Canada

    1. John: thanks hugely for your kind comments on the book!

      The typos are a nightmare! I’m talking to publisher re what to do.. Since my illness in 2012, my typing has got even more sloppy: so I may need to take you up on that offer..

      Thanks again..
      Dave.

  6. Hey fellow space cadets. We have a blog called the onesong which you can visit at https://theonesong.wordpress.com. It is what we call Cosmic Humour and hopefully provides you with a bit of fun and light in your day.

    Peace. Om. Chaka Khan

    Swami Cashinanda. xx

  7. John Kenwell · · Reply

    Dave: I haven’t looked at your Dispirited page since I left you a message back in Oct.; that is until today. I sincerely repeat my offer to assist in proofing. I have professionally proofed 5 novels for 3 different authors. Because your book changed my life, it would be an honor to assist you free gratis. I have recommended your book to a dozen people. One of the many things I like about “Dispirited” is that while the language and sentence structure challenged and stimulated my mind, the basic message, what I interpreted as the “mission statement”, is profoundly simple; and this message stimulated my spirit.

    1. Thanks John.

      The publishers show no sign of going for a second edition – – but should they do so (and I will keep pushing on this!) I will be really happy to take up your offer. It sure needs a good copyeditor..

      Also – thanks hugely for the kind words about the book: it is very much appreciated!

  8. Sounds interesting! On my reading list!

  9. Hi Dave,

    Thank you for writing this book!! I came across it after googling the phrase “spirituality annoys me,” and I couldn’t have been happier with what I found. I really appreciate the intellectual subtlety with which you’ve explored the topic. As someone with a background in the academic study of Buddhism, I’m now working on studies in clinical psychology and feel continuously enraged by the naiive misunderstandings of Buddhism that form some of the central tenets of “spiritually-informed” psychological theory. That said, I’ve also experimented with and directly benefited from some new-agey ideas and practices, and I don’t feel that it’s entirely detrimental. I just don’t understand why otherwise intelligent people involved in new age spirituality are so quick to throw all intellectual criticism out the window.

    One thing that simultaneously annoys and fascinates me: You’ve probably noticed the trend by which most new age spiritualists abandon many of their native culture’s traditions and institutions because of social injustice, but get pretty enthusiastic about preserving exotic traditions that perpetuate the very same injustice. Gets me every time! It’s as if they throw out the baby with the bathwater at home but have no trouble eating and drinking merrily abroad. It’s so strange. And intriguing. And also extremely annoying.

    So anyway, thank you again for writing. Write more! I would very much enjoy reading it…

    ~Liz (Berkeley, CA, USA)

  10. I wrote a review of this book on my blog. I thought Dispirited was a much-needed book, but I still have questions.

    Are all connotations of spirituality – even the most secular mundane – useless at best?

    Is “mindfulness” a contradiction? Can it really be attained, or are meditators tricking themselves?

    1. Like other readers have mentioned, I found your book so compelling that I read it multiple times. After much “soul searching,” I finally get it! Nothing is sacred, and that’s perfectly okay! Thank you for writing this amazing book. It took a while for it to sink in, but using Occam’s razor, I cut through the wishy-washy wishful thinking I was still clinging into as a former SBNR type. Spirituality is congruent with fuzzy, lazy, self-serving thinking masquerading as something actually profound and worthwhile.

  11. Patrik · · Reply

    For those of you who are looking for some deeper connection I can strongly recommend an fantastic event with speakers, musicians and aligned spiritual workers coming from different countries celebrating Light and perfect Balance at Equinox this coming September in California…

    The Equinox is the marker of the Merging, of the balance between Spirit and Matter, between Light and Shadow, between the Masculine and feminine energies. The Elders considered the Fall Equinox as one of the holiest moments of the years. Later and until recently, the Christian Churches have celebrated the Michaelmas on this day. Fall is associated with the Archangel Michael because He is the agent, the catalytic energy of the Merging, of the Alchemical marriage.

    http://saintmichaelsanctuary.com/lightcelebration

    With Love
    /Patrik

  12. This is “New Age” – not all spiritual practices. I am interested to read your book, I only hope there is some clarity on what contemporary spirituality is, in fact, and some distinction between different takes on spirituality. From what I’ve read in your blog, it seems you are attacking all forms of spirituality without religion.

  13. My goal here then is to clarify the uselessness of metaphysics, and then transition from empiricism (as a counter
    to moral rationalism), and move more directly into skepticism.
    Someone with a balanced third eye chakra clearly knows where he or
    she is going. ” This is the unveiling of the secrets of the Egyptian goddess Isis who declared truthfully that no mortal shall ever unveil her.

  14. Haven’t read your book but I agree with a lot of the sentiment and I love your Philosophy Youtube Videos will you be doing anything more in depth became a bit of a Junkie after my son did advanced Higher RMPS.

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