Our Spiritual Capital

March 2nd, 2015

Our Spiritual Capital

“Social capital” and “emotional intelligence” have been helpful concepts for how we build our communities and build relationships. Then “cultural capital” and “cultural intelligence” are now being talked about as the stock and skills that are need in a changing and divided world where the importance of listening and understanding others is ever more important for the health of our societies and international affairs.

This last week brought a new idea to my door: “spiritual capital” was presented by Chris Baker of the William Temple Foundation at “Building a Politics of Hope: Exploring the role and impact of faith-based leadership in local communities” hosted by Church Urban Fund and the Joint Public Issues Team of the Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Churches. He summarises that: “We no longer live in a tidy and ideologically pure public sphere where only the secular counts as ‘public’ and religion is allowed to function only in the ‘private’.  We therefore need to conceive of the relationship between the religious and secular in a more symbiotic way. This means accepting the full religious and secular diversity of British society, publicly recognising the ‘spiritual capital’ of both religious and secular organisations and fostering an outward looking outlook on life that creates positive affinities between places and social groups.” (www.publicspirit.org.uk)

At the Hurtado Jesuit Centre, we are concerned with the intertwining of social justice and spirituality. The Ignatian tradition is to be a contemplative in action, with a long-standing tradition of interfaith engagement. How does our spirituality inform our service to others? How might the resources from our heritage and practice provide a stock and skills useful in our local area? What if our values, shaped by the principles of Catholic social teaching, could help inform our contribution to a renewal of a moral and ethical vision of how we live together in our world today? Can the space we steward help sustain resilient activities or leverage time and energy from committed volunteers? May our skills in spiritual accompaniment offer nourishment and encouragement to people working in difficult circumstances? Does our approach to prayer as imaginative contemplation of story facilitate a visioning of hopeful things not yet come about or shape new urban narratives?

In the context of working in London’s East End and recognising the emergence of a new localism in our post-secular global society, our Centre is a place of welcome and community. We are here for everyone who visits or is a guest here. Steve Chalke, from Oasis, expressed the sentiment at the same conference on creating hope in our communities that faith is our input, not an outcome that we desire. Our spiritual capital then is something we might learn to keep “topped up” by regular time together and occasions for reflection, for personal quiet time and communal celebration. It is something precious, yet, not to be held on reserve at the bank waiting for interest rates to rise, but as a resource to generate a dividend. Might it be something that grows the more we share it?

Read more about the event here: http://williamtemplefoundation.org.uk/politics-of-hope-event-reflection-chris-baker/

Kate Monkhouse is Centre Manager at the Hurtado Jesuit Centre