Imagine yourself at a dental technicians' convention where the subject matter presumably is the care of teeth, but what is actually discussed is black beans, caramel candy, puberty, and tiddlywinks. So it is with what is today called spirituality.

One can study the daily horoscope and call it spirituality. One can study women's outrage and call it spirituality. One can offer educational videotapes on techniques of masturbation and call it eroto-spirituality. Only in America.

Dying modernity seems to be "into" spirituality, a phenomenon that has not gone unnoticed by evangelicals. As best-selling books, movies, and magazines latch onto "spiritual" themes, the tradition-grounded believer tries to extract some sense out of what seem to be unprecedented mutations in the spiritual longings of our culture.

Why is "spirituality" suddenly so appealing within a frightened, malignantly dying modern ideological culture? Is the growth of bizarre spirituality an indictment of the church or a vindication of what it has been saying all along? And can evangelicals be encouraged by any of these trends?

The evidences of a new spiritual hunger are usually painted with a good or bad face. The happy face: Angels have made a comeback. Prayer is alive again in a popular culture. The ugly face: Witches are claiming equality under religious-freedom rulings. Neo-pagan feminism has substituted Sophia for Jesus in the Eucharist. The demonic is hidden in every sociological or psychological equation but seldom recognized as such.

By contrast, spirituality in the New Testament sense is not a search for religious experience nor a self-help movement, not a philosophy, nor a search for enlightenment, not an idea or a technique of meditation, but simply a lift ...

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