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The Scientific Study of Religious and Secular Spiritualities

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Spirituality is a contested concept in sciences of religion, but is inescapable because of its manifold and fundamental use. The main problems in the study of the many new spiritualities are their diversity, popularity, partly secular character, opposition to religion, lack of clear concepts, and an elicitation of grand explanations. After reviewing recent West European answers to these problems, and with the help of a small case study of Dutch Reiki, I propose an approach which respects the diversity, chiefly by way of fieldwork and qualitative research, and seeks to develop clear (provisional) concepts, although remaining cautious about grand explanations.

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