Welcome: Spirit and Culture

Expanding Our Focus to Spirit and Culture

Welcome to  my new website, and a new version of the blog www.SpiritualLeadershipWaystation.com. The past 50+ posts mainly focused on my book Spiritual Leadership and explored the changing identities and cultural expectation. Now I want to broaden discussion to Spirit in, and through, beyond, and perhaps in spite of culture. The vertical and horizontal context in which spiritual leaders live and work. This is the focus of my newest book Sideline Church: Bridging the Chasms between Churches and Cultures (to be released in August 2018).

My academic training has been in Philosophical Theology. My doctoral thesis was in ontology and metaphysics in dialogue with existentialism and culture, concentrating on Tillich, Whitehead, and Theilhard de Chardin. My academic publishing has been in Tillich, and professional publishing in church development and cultural relevance. I have always thought of myself as a “consulting academic” (in the same way that Sherlock Holmes was a “consulting detective”), working collegially with professional academics and clergy, but with my own methods of observation. That’s led me to consult across countries, cultures, church traditions, denominations, and non-profit organizations. 

In the academy philosophy and theology have seemed to be parting ways in the past 65 years (encouraged perhaps by the “Death of God” movement that gained momentum in the 1950’s.) But in culture this has not happened. Instead, philosophy and theology have become interwoven in many different ways, and that “dance” continues in ever more interesting and complex. 

Sixty five years ago there was a certain progression to theological reflection (explicitly Trinitarian):

  1. God and History
  2. Christ and Culture
  3. Spirit and Change

Today I think this progression has been reversed (explicitly boundary-less). Pneumatology has superseded both Theology and Christology as the basic cultural methodology. It does not make the other two categories obsolete, but they are no longer inevitable.

This parallels the shift in worldviews as well. Sixty five years ago, our history was not only primarily western, but it described particular epochs or periods, and assumed that over time religion (like civilization) was progressing. Culture was described in demographic categories like age, gender, race, income, etc. and made clear distinctions from one category to the next, which made culture predictable. Today there are alternatives histories and the idea of “progress” is in doubt; there are multiplying lifestyle portraits, and the old distinctions are blurred. There are no guarantees, only likelihoods. 

Spirit and change. That is the primary assumption of this blog.

Thomas BandyComment