Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, Vol 9, No 1 (2021)

Meaning and Natural Life: How Spiritual Care is Redefined in the Secular Context

Christopher Turner
Issued Date: 25 Feb 2021


Employing the praxis method of theological reflection, this article draws on a spiritual care encounter with a person holding a worldview derived from an empirical approach to the natural world, in order to reflect on the nature of non-religious spirituality and its implications for the spiritual care sector. Non-religious spirituality is examined as a genuine form of spirituality. The hypothesis that the genuine nature of non-religious spirituality necessarily suggests that non-religious people can both receive and provide spiritual care is presented. Healthy secularity is examined as the underlying sociocultural condition for non-religious spiritual care to be recognized in a sector currently dominated by religious assumptions. The study concludes with a call to spiritual care educators and accrediting bodies in the Australian context to begin working toward a secular perspective that is inclusive of non-religious spirituality and spiritual care. The conclusions of the article will have significance for the global spiritual care community, particularly in countries recording increases in populations identifying as non-religious.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £18.00 )

DOI: 10.1558/hscc.38581


Australian Bureau of Statistics: Available at: Subject/2071.0~2016~Main   Features~Religion Data Summary~70. Retrieved: 5-11-2018.

Berry, Thomas (1988). The Dream of the Earth.

            San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.

Bouma, Gary (2006). Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the Twenty First Century. New York, Cambridge.

de Chardin, Teilhard (1965) Hymn of the Universe

London: William Collins & Sons.

Carey, Lindsay & Davoren, Ronald & Cohen, Jeffrey (2009). ‘The Sacralization of Identity: An Interfaith Spiritual Care Paradigm for Chaplaincy in a Multi-Faith Context’. College of Health Care Chaplains Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy. February. 15-24.

Damasio, Antonio (2000). The Feeling of What Happens: Body, Emotion and the Making of Consciousness. London: Vintage Books.

Damasio, Antonio (2003). Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain. New York: Harvest.

Doehring, Carrie (2015). The Practice of Pastoral Care: A Postmodern Approach. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.

Gaita, Raimond (1999). A Common Humanity: Thinking about love & truth & justice. Melbourne: Text Publishing.

Gardner, Fiona (2011). Critical Spirituality: A Holistic Approach to Contemporary Practice. Farnham: Ashgate.

Goldstein, Rebecca Newsberger (2006). Betraying Spinoza: The renegade Jew who gave us modernity. New York: Nextbook.

Hitchens, Christopher (2007). god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. New York: Hachett.

Lucretius, Titus (2014). Of the Nature of Things. William Ellery Leonard (trans.). Available at: Viewed: 17-03-2019.

Mannheim, Karl (1936). Ideology and Utopia: An Introduction to the Sociology of Knowledge. London: Harvest.

Morowitz, Harold J. (2002). The Emergence of Everything: How the World Became Complex. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nietzsche, F. (1959). ‘Nietzsche Contra Wagner.’ The Portable Nietzsche. Walter Kaufmann (trans.), New York: Penguin: 661–83. Originally published in 1895.

Nussbaum, Martha (1994). The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Puchalski, C et. al. (2014). ‘Improving the Spiritual Dimension of Whole Person Care: Reaching National and International onsensus.’ Journal of Palliative Medicine 17 (6): 642-56.

Rahner, Karl (1974). Theological Investigations Vol IV. London: arton, Longman & Todd.

Russell, Bertrand (1946) History of Western Philosophy. London: George, Allen & Unwin.

Tacey, David (2017) Public Lecture. Available at:      college/episodes/David-Tacey-Encountering-God-in-Aust- Today-e3anc5/a-ab07k9. Accessed: 20-03-2019.


Taylor, Charles (2007). A Secular Age.

            London: Harvard University Press.

Tillich, Paul (1951). Systematic Theology Vol I.

            Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Tillich, Paul (1957). The Dynamics of Faith. London: George,

            Allen and Unwin.

Tillich, Paul (1954). Love, Power, And Justice: Ontological Analyses and Ethical Applications. London: Oxford University Press.

Secular Spiritual Care Network (2019). Found at: network/. Viewed: 24-03-2019.

Schuhmann, Carmen & Damen, Annelieke (2018). ‘Representing the Good: Pastoral Care in a Secular Age.’ Pastoral Psychology. Available at: 018-0826-0. Viewed: 24-03-2019.

Schweitzer, Albert (1936). ‘The Ethics of Reverence for Life.’ Christendom (1): 225-39.

Sehee, Joe (2019). Public Lecture: Secular Spiritual Care. (Audio) Available

at: search/joe-sehee,-secular-spiritual-care- network/10883664. Viewed: 17-03-2019.

Spinoza, Baruch (1955). Works of Spinoza Vol II (R.H.M. Elwes [trans.]). New York: Dover Publications. Originally published by George Bell & Sons in 1883.

Spiritual Care Australia (2013). Standards of Practice. Available at: Viewed: 22-03- 2019.




  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email:

Privacy Policy