evolution of Americans’ faith over the past
60 years, from a more conventional phase in the ‘‘dwelling-focused’’ religiousness
to a diverse ‘‘spirituality-seeking’’ phase encouraged by the booming
religious freedom during the 1960s, and, then, to a ‘‘practice-centered’’ phase in the current decade
‘‘seeking-oriented’’ spirituality was brought about by the Baby
Boomer generation who were deeply influenced by the Civil Rights
Movement and other significant socio-political-economic shifts in both the
USA and around the globe when they were young (Wuthnow, 1998). In contrast
to the conventional religious dwellers, new spiritual seekers in this and
the coming generations tend to emphasize non-traditional ways of relating
to transcendence and make sense of their lives without invoking
Wuthnow (1998) defined the three terms as follows: ‘‘A spirituality of dwelling emphasizes habitation: God occupies a definite place in the universe and creates a sacred space in which humans too can dwell; to inhabit sacred space is to know its territory and to feel secure. A spirituality of seeking emphasizes habitation: Individuals search for sacred moments that reinforce their conviction that the divine exists, but these moments are fleeting: rather than knowing the territory, people explore new spiritual vistas, and they may have to negotiate among complex and confusing meanings of spirituality. . . .
In Western religion, habitation spirituality is suggested in stories of the Garden of Eden and of the Promised Land: it consists of temple religion; and it occurs in the time of kings and of priests. A spirituality of seeking is tabernacle religion, the faith of pilgrims and sojourners; it clings to the Diaspora and to prophets and judges, rather than to priests and kings. . . .
In social theory, a spirituality of dwelling is reminiscent of Aristotle’s insistence that the patriarchal family supplies the fundamental model of social order and of Emile Durkhiem’s definition of religion as beliefs and practices that ‘‘unite into one single moral community’’ those who adhere to them. A spirituality of seeking is more akin to Plato’s emphasis on the origins of society in the varied gifts of the individual and in Max Weber’s metaphor of religion as a ‘‘switchman’’ guiding the ethical inclinations of individuals in their contemplative activities or in their worldly occupations . . ..’’ (Wuthnow, 1998, pp. 3–4).
‘‘In my view the ancient wisdom that emphasizes the idea of spiritual practices needs to be rediscovered; indeed, a practice-oriented spirituality should be considered seriously as an alternative both to dwelling and to seeking. . . .
Practice-oriented spirituality preserves some of what has always attracted people to a spirituality of
dwelling, for it too requires the setting aside of a space in which to meditate, to pray, and to worship,
and in the confusion of everyday life such a space may be possible only by carefully demarcating it from its surroundings. Yet, these spaces are negotiable, changeable, and the point of engaging in spiritual practice is not merely to feel secure in a sacred space but to grow increasingly aware of the mysterious and transcendent aspects of the sacred as well . . . . (pp. 14–15).