In the Middle Ages there was a kind of magic which was termed black magic or black art. This magic was supposed to conjure things for the practitioner, good things for himself and evil things for his enemies. It was an art which was considered to influence the turn of events in a community and even in a nation.
Today a growing group of social scientists are looking at spirituality as the new black art, as the hidden way of influencing the course of events in business organizations, communities and entire societies.
That is the idea behind the article of Dr. Gianni Zappalà, Associate Professor at the Centre for Social Impact, UNSW, and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Sydney and Director of Orfeus Research, a boutique consultancy that assists organisations develop responsible citizenship strategies through research, evaluation and training.
The title of this article is “Spirituality is the new black art…and it has social impact!”
This article is an introduction to the topic of spirituality. Its main message is that if we reject spirituality we are doomed to a life of ultimate meaninglessness. Nobody of us in his right mind would want that.
What Dr. Zappala is saying is that spirituality is now a force to be reckoned with. It is shaping our society and our institutions. It is no longer marginal, as it was in the past. We are moving away from a materialistic view of the universe to a spiritualistic view.
If the Catholic Church only did not suppress the writings of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., this trend would have happened a long time ago. Fr. de Chardin already posited the aliveness and spirit present in all beings, even the stones and iron that we step on. This was a far away idea from that of Aristotle who classified creation into two types: animate beings and inanimate beings. The animate beings were plants, animals and human beings who have souls. The inanimate beings were considered those which do not have life, such as the soil and the elements. Surprisingly this is still being taught in seminaries which are supposed to train the future leaders of this Church. The Catholic Church has a long way to go in the path of spirituality.
We are now discovering that all things are breathing with life, with the spirit, even the dirt that clings to our shoes or feet.
Also if the Catholic Church had only heeded the interpretation of Scripture scholars that we are composed of body, soul and spirit, instead of just body and soul, as Aristotle taught, this renaissance on spirituality would have happened a long time ago, most probably within the Church.
What has happened is that the ones who rediscovered spirituality are not primarily in the religion or theology segments of our academe. They are in the social and business sciences. What a paradox! We may soon or late have sociologists and business executives teaching our priests and nuns about spirituality!