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The Spiritual Illusion

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Constructive Steps toward Rectification and Redescription

AbstractThis article takes constructive steps toward redescribing an emic folk category that enjoys widespread use in contemporary Western discourse, but has proven problematic for the academic study of religion. On close examination, the term “spirituality” is demonstrated to be vague, essentialist, and narcissistic, though consistent enough in its usage to reveal a cluster of specific associations, assumptions, and normative judgments. Moreover, the purported dichotomy between “spirituality” and “religion” can be rendered more intelligible through an ironic and imaginative juxtaposition with the contrast between male and female reproduction organs, with regard to physical appearance and location, social dynamics, and ethical implications.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Religious Studies, Georgia State UniversityBox 4089, Atlanta, GA


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