Dispirited: How Contemporary Spirituality Makes Us Stupid, Selfish and Unhappy is published by Zero Books
Dispirited argues that contemporary accounts of spirituality are a dead end for human potential, a threat to intellectual rigour, and opposed to social and political engagement. Rather than accept the “Spiritual, But Not Religious” response as the only alternative to either formal religion or egotistical, shallow consumerism, Dispirited argues for a post-spiritual response to the existential realities of life.
From the introduction:
Refusing all inwardness and consolation, David Webster faces down spirituality’s guile in favour of a bleak atheism’s hints of a worthwhile life. Bracing, timely stuff!
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.
Peter Manley Scott, University of Manchester“Should be placed gently but firmly in the hands of any budding convert who thinks that the vacuous claims of a new spirituality are any better than the lies, evasions and hypocrisies of orthodox religion …”
Professor Christopher Norris, Distinguished Research Professor in Philosophy, Cardiff UniversityThis is as close to a “must read” as it gets, for the religious as well as the spiritual reader, as well as for atheists.
Dr. Mikael Askander, Lund University, Sweden
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