Spirituality has gained recognition by social scientists as a concept apart from religion/religiosity. Studies about spirituality have dramatically increased in the last three decades and the term spirituality has taken part in the name of the fields like psychology of religion and spirituality. In this literature, religion is regarded as organizations and rules while spirituality is correlated to personal beliefs, sense of being connected to the sacred and the universe, development of self and personal potentials. Today many people mostly in Western countries label themselves as spiritual but not religious. Social factors like humanism, post-modernism, globalization have played an important role on the changing meanings of religion and spirituality. This paper aims to investigate social aspects of personal spirituality in American and Turkish societies that have different cultural and religious backgrounds. The data has been collected by a quantitative research conducted in both countries. 80 Turkish and 60 American participants have been interviewed with the help of semi-structured interview protocol. Observations have been documented by means of “field notes” and “photography”. The results of content analysis are compared with the results of other researches. This paper presents the similarities and differences between perceived religion and spirituality in both cultures. It traces the social dynamics that affects the transformation of religion and spirituality. The possible future of this transformation is also questioned under the light of recent changings on the relationships among higher being, human and the universe. This paper presents the vital points that should be regarded in spirituality studies.
Religious Commonalities and Differences
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Assistant Professor, Psychology of Religion, Marmara University, Faculty of Theology, Turkey