Is something stirring in Mind/ Body/ Spirit land?

I didn’t write the following paragraph….

There is real indication that there is a leavening of thought occurring in the public consciousness, with regard to things of the Spirit. At one time the words God, religion, Church and Jesus were absolutely unacceptable to the sort of seeker which attends [Mind/Body/Spirit] shows [in the UK]. There are so many looking for physical as well as mental relief.

But I could have written that paragraph, which appeared in a recent report of a Christian Science Reading Room activity at May’s Mind/Body/Spirit Show at the Royal Horticultural Halls, in Victoria, London. I have enjoyed helping out occasionally at these shows during the ten years that the United South East England Reading Room and their predecessors have hosted a stand there. And that is exactly what I noticed this year. The reluctance – well, sometimes more than reluctance! – of Mind/Body/Spirit crowds to engage with Christian ideas has seriously reduced.

There were still a portion of attendees for whom Christian spirituality was very distinctly not on either their intended or spontaneous agendas for the afternoon. Yet so many others were happy to stop and talk, and although mostly not consciously looking for a Church or religion, for an understanding of Jesus – or even for God – they were more than open to finding out about these things. Moreover, many were willing to buy Mary Baker Eddy’s book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which thoughtfully and inspiringly brings to light the powerful spirituality and healing potential of the Bible texts.

This changed environment for discussion squares with a couple of other factors I have been noting over the past couple of years…

Firstly, among those Christians generally called “mainstream” there has been more talk of the need to considerately go where the seeker is going – and thus have stands at Mind/Body/Spirit events. This was evidently more than talk, as there were indeed other Christian groups – with a variety of approaches and agendas – in attendance at the Royal Horticultural Hall in 2011, while for many years the Christian Science Reading Rooms that have chosen to exhibit on such occasions have been the lone Christian voice at these events.

Secondly, I recently read in “The Millennials” by Thom S. Rainer and Jess W. Rainer how the younger generations coming through – the so-called Millennials – don’t share the baby-boomers’ common suspicion of, and aversion to, organised religion in general and Christianity specifically…

Millennials…probably not studying religion! Source: Photostogo / Models used for illustrative purposes only

That is not to say that kids and twentysomethings are flocking to sign up to institutional religion. Far from it! They are positively described in the book’s “Their Strange Religious World” chapter as not having an adversarial attitude towards religion but on the flip side they are described as being apathetic about it. And “spirituality” only comes in at No.6 on the survey’s record of the Millennial’s perspective on “What is Really Important in Your Life?” It is below family, friends, education, career, and spouse…but above finances, happiness, raising kids and health.

Here is an attitudinal example from a guy called Brandon:

Look guys, I know religion is important to a lot of people, but I’m not really one of those people who even thinks much about religion. I’m not against religions or religious people; it’s just not who I am. I call myself a Christian because that’s the label my family’s had for generations. But I doubt that I’m even close to being like those people who attend church a lot. Religion is just really low on my list of priorities.

The surveys conducted for this book were carried out in the United States.  Here in the UK, too, I have had first-hand experience of the same trend…of “Millennials” being more respectful of an individual’s decision to value a faith, and more openly curious to hear about it without prejudice, than “Boomer” parents.

Thought-streams inevitably keep on flowing, and as time moves on, yesterday’s common knowledge becomes today’s passé preconception…as a day at the Mind/Body/Spirit seemed to suggest.

FREEBIES:

1. If you are interested in reading the results of the research conducted by Thom and Jess Rainer, their book The Millennial which is “based on 1200 interviews with its namesakes that aim to better understand them personally, professionally, and spiritually” is being given away free on Amazon as a Kindle download.

2. At the Mind/Body/Spirit show many people expressed an interest in a free talk being given next Tuesday evening (June 21) in Waterstone’s book store, Piccadilly…the details are below:

Event Name: How does Christian Science Heal? – the healing, transforming power of clear, pure thoughts
Lecturer: Frank Prinz-Wondollek
Date / Time: Tuesday 21st June 2011, 7:00pm
Location: Waterstones Piccadilly, 6th Floor, The Simpson Room
203/206 Piccadilly, SW1Y 6WW — Nearest TUBE: Piccadilly Circus
More information: Call 0207 937 3389
  • Or you can download the event Flyer
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Categories: Christian Science

Author:Tony Lobl

I write on spirituality and health for a diversity of online media outlets, from my perspective as a Christian Science practitioner. I have been published by the Independent, the Washington Post, the Guardian, E-Hospice, MindBodyGreen and The Christian Science Monitor and I post regularly on the Huffington Post UK and BuzzFeed. In addition to writing and broadcast appearances I enjoy engaging with journalists, academics, health professionals and government officials about the possibilities for improving health outcomes through a greater emphasis on spirituality in healthcare and social care. I've also greatly valued the many opportunities I have had to travel globally for my church and to meet people around the world. My wife Jenny and I spent 10 years in Boston, USA, before returning to London in 2002, to take on a role as the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. I studied at the University of Surrey earning a BSc Hons Degree in Modern Mathematics before the impact of spirituality on health caught my attention and re-shaped my career.

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5 Comments on “Is something stirring in Mind/ Body/ Spirit land?”

  1. Courtenay Rule
    June 16, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    Tony, this is excellent! So good to hear. I was just now thinking of the importance of us upholding – rather than avoiding – those nasty dirty words like “God”, “Christianity”, or “Church”, and uplifting the public’s thought of what they truly mean. (As a 20-something who used to feel very uncomfortable with those words myself, I can attest there’s hope for us all yet!!) Very inspiring to know the leavening is going on!

  2. Sandi
    June 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Thanks for bringing us all into the loop. So glad to learn of this shift in attitude by Millennials towards openness, rather than outright rejection of Christianity. Interesting to learn that your booth was companioned this year by “mainstream” Christian groups going to where the seekers are. This represents another promising shift – from an old attitude of requiring seekers to come to where the church buildings are. Cheers for the vision and consistency of the United South East England Reading Room.

  3. George Chaplin
    July 7, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    Great new appearance! Have missed a few of your blogs recently so it was a nice surprise to see the new look of your pages. Congratulations!
    Interesting to hear about the shift in thought you’ve noticed at the Mind, Body, Spirit fairs. All the current “turning over” in this country and in the world at large is a promising sign of the inevitable progress we have learned to expect as a result of the great love God has for mankind.

  4. Brian Weatherhogg
    August 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    Interesting new web site! Love the ideas here – and so good to hear the upward trend of thought – so often we were told at Mind Body Spirit shows that the word ‘God’ was considered to be a control word. The idea that God could bring about change for the better was considered unusual.

  5. March 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    Interesting to hear about that MBS Exhibition, the Christian Science stand and the talk at Waterstones in Picadilly which I went to and found absorbing. It was full of helpful insights which I felt helped me erase anything that would stop me that basic, good Christian thinking clears away the heavy fog, which rolls by and accumulate when discomfort claims preponderance in our thoughts… with his helpful insights these thoughts need not be totally dominating!
    The good news is that Frank is coming back to London 7pm on June 19th 2012 but I am told it will not be at Waterstones this time! The venue will appear on www. firstlondon.org soon.

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