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Spiritual Capital – the role of church in a postsecular city. Dr Chris Baker – William Temple Foundation/University of Chester www.williamtemplefounation.org.uk.

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Presentation on theme: "Spiritual Capital – the role of church in a postsecular city. Dr Chris Baker – William Temple Foundation/University of Chester www.williamtemplefounation.org.uk."— Presentation transcript:

1 Spiritual Capital – the role of church in a postsecular city. Dr Chris Baker – William Temple Foundation/University of Chester Church of England Faith in Research Conference June 4 th 2014

2 Aims of the Session Tell the story of my research AND through that story, comment on the current state of play between religion, politics and public life in the UK and elsewhere David Tracy: three theological publics/audiences for research: the church, academy, wider society/public sphere

3 In the beginning was Milton Keynes….. From Milton Keynes (Critical incident – personal sense of alienation from both Urban environment and the church) The power of the built environment and its impact on the shape of the church Towards a Theology of New Towns: the implications of the New Town Experience for Urban Theology Ph.d 2002 (Manchester) To Manchester and its transition from Cottonopolis to Ideopolis (I.e. an Industrial to a post-industrial city) – Regeneration or gentrification?

4 Regenerating Communities – A Theological and Strategic Critique (2002-5) – CUF £25K Three reports Mapping the Boundaries 2003(25 participants – 3 areas of East/South Manchester - faith/secular – how is regeneration working?) Telling the Stories; How Churches are contributing to Social Capital (40 participants, 9 panels – Churches’ views of regeneration) Faith in Action: The dynamic connection between religious and spiritual capital 2006 (Theoretical and strategic review) MAPPING – NARRATIVE – REFLECTION - STRATEGY

5 Methodology - 4 paradigms Primarily Qualitative (but did use Deprivation Indices and SOA data) Inductive – hearing stories and letting themes and patterns accumulate – open question technologies Interpretive (social reality is socially constructed - interested in understanding the meanings people give to reality) vs. Functionalist (repeating patterns in order to predict and control) (Gioia and Pitre, 1990) Constructivist – exploring how different stakeholders in a social setting construct their beliefs – helps arrive at a consensus around a social programme or political issue (Guba and Lincoln, 1989) Action-Research - Not only understanding practice, but transforming it (Swinton and Mowat, 2006)

6 Telling the Stories - How churches are contributing to Social Capital (Year 2) Aim: Following the mapping of deprivation and regeneration in Year 1 to understand ‘in greater depth the role and contribution of churches and church-based projects in post-modern, post-industrialised communities to emerging understandings of regeneration, civil society and the creation of ‘sustainable’ communities.’ (p.5)

7 Telling the Stories – ctd 4 Questions 1: What are the forces that are changing your area most? (over the past five years) 2 : The government talks a lot about ‘civil society’ and ‘social capital’. What do these terms mean to you? Are these terms helpful or empowering? 3 : The government talks about the need to engage faith communities in regeneration. Is there a faith-based language for talking about these processes? 4 : Does a faith-based language add or detract from the possibility of change?

8 What does regeneration really mean? 1. Focuses on transforming people personally and spiritually, as well as improving their area physically - has an over-arching hope that this transformation will occur. 2. Values personal stories, especially about how individual ‘regeneration’ occurs. 3. Believes implicitly or explicitly that God is at work within regeneration and civil society. 4. Accepts that there’s a lot of strong emotion felt and expressed when working for healthy communities – for example, anger, frustration, cynicism, weariness, fragility – and acknowledges the importance and significance of ‘feelings’. 5. Introduces the values of self-emptying, forgiveness, transformation, risk- taking and openness to learning. 6. Begins with the intention of accepting those who have been rejected elsewhere. 7. Values people’s inner resources - seeing people as capable of creating their own solutions to their problems

9 Attention to process and abstract concepts as well as services on the ground This church and faith-based interest in values and processes can be called ‘added-value’ because these are the more ‘intangible’ processes of regeneration and civil society that cannot so easily be measured or ‘tick boxed’. If some of the above elements could be brought into the formation of policy documents, consultation processes and monitoring and evaluating procedures, they would definitely ‘thicken’ the whole way in which governance, civil society and regeneration works, especially at the local level. (p.28)

10 Yes to the ‘what’, no to the ‘why’ Feeling of being ignored or exploited by secular agencies Their contributions to civil society and regeneration are not valued in their own right Their language and values have been ‘hijacked’ by other partners because for the sake of ‘tick-box’ expediency Government rhetoric on engaging faith communities and local government implementation of this rhetoric is largely tokenistic in the sense that faith communities are often absent from the ‘tables of power’

11 The importance of spiritual capital to social capital – the ‘why that drives the ‘what’ Social Capital – the importance of relationships, networks and norms that can be used to enrich individuals and communities (Putnam, 2000) Religious Capital: ‘… is the practical contribution to local and national life made by faith groups’ (Baker and Skinner, 2006) Spiritual Capital: ‘ energises religious capital by providing a theological identity and worshipping tradition, but also a value system, moral vision and a basis for faith… is often embedded locally within faith groups, but also expressed in the lives of individuals’ (as above)

12 Spiritual capital and civic participation/political engagement To get the best value from working with faith groups we proposed, you need to work with not only the religious capital, but the spiritual capital as well: not just the ‘what’ but the why.

13 Faith in Action – The Dynamic Connection between religious and spiritual capital 2006…the story continues 43 Google citations: Business studies, human geography, sociology of religion Influential on the idea of ‘faithful capital’ in the Faithful Cities – A call for Celebration, Vision and Justice (2006) Leverhulme Grant (£145 K) – Faith and Traditional Capitals – defining the cope of religious capital Aimed to unpack further the relationship between belief and action and its contribution to social capital Across faith and spiritual groups – 24 focus groups and participant observation

14 Leverhulme research – 4 questions ‘What benefits do you derive from being a member of this religious/spiritual group?’ ‘Are these benefits shared within the wider community, and if so, how? ‘How well do the ideas of religious and spiritual capital express the way faith groups contribute and engage in civil society?’ ‘Are there any words, images or phrases other than ‘capital’ that better express what your faith/spiritual group offers to wider society, and why?

15 Spaces of Belonging, Becoming and Participation Religious and Spiritual capital emerges from a dialectic interaction between three spaces associated with religious identity. Spaces of ‘belonging’ equals those emotionally supportive and nurturing benefits derived from being a member of religious or spiritual groups. These help provide a safe and supportive space by which different identities can be translated and negotiated into a functioning whole. Religious participants move from spaces of ‘belonging’ to spaces of ‘becoming’, in ways that allow them to nurture and develop either a new or existing identity forged out of different and sometimes competing identities. Spaces of belonging and becoming generally provide the confidence and peer endorsement that encourages the outward engagement towards practices of civic participation in an extending radius of trust and confidence (SoR, 2013)

16 BBP Grid

17 The postsecular public sphere It is not about reversing the processes of secularisation, nor is secularism as an ideology disappearing from the scene. But it is about the re-emergence (or new visibility ) of religion. Jurgen Habermas: We need to see adopt ‘a postsecular self- understanding of society as whole in which the vigorous continuation of religion in a continually secularizing environment must be reckoned with’. (Habermas, J. (2006), ‘Religion in the public sphere’, European Journal of Philosophy 14(1), 1–25.

18 More Habermas 1) Important Enlightenment virtues of autonomy, individuality and property rights have unleashed a monster that threatens to carry all before it (namely neo-liberal capitalism) – sweeping away not only democracy but also our values (An Awareness of what is Missing 2010) The modern liberal democratic state no longer has the capacity to motivate its citizens to form resistances and collectivities against this tidal wave of capitalism from within its own truth claims. It needs to rediscover the wisdom, discernment and discipline that are linked with religious sources because they are ‘pre-political’; they are independent and self-generating, outside the power of the newly diminished state and the ever voracious market. Jürgen Habermas, ‘Religion in the Public Sphere’ in European Journal of Philosophy (2006) 14 (1) : 1-25

19 Differentiation imposed on religious citizens is unfair 2) The pressure for religious citizens to mask their identity or disguise their discourse is unfair under the terms of equality and democracy founded on modern, liberal principles because secular citizens are not required to modify their discourse or identity when they participate in the public square (so-called ‘differentiation’ argument) ‘A devout person pursues her daily rounds drawing on her belief. Put differently, true belief is not a doctrine but a source of energy that the person who has faith taps performatively and thus nurtures his or her entire life.’ (2006:8)

20 Spiritual capital – not just for people affiliated to religious groups Spiritual capital is not the sole preserve of citizens attending religious institutions, but was also, in terms of its properties as a value system and moral vision, a motivating force for those outside formal religious affiliation. In other words, there is such a thing as secular spiritual capital. Chris Baker and Jonathan Miles-Watson, ‘Exploring Secular Spiritual Capital; An Engagement in Religious and Secular Dialogue for a Common Future’ in International Journal of Public Theology 2 (4), See Silver’s work on 6 types of No Religion (NONES) – the majority of people in this category are not hostile to religion and see it as an important cultural or intellectual stimulus/backdrop to their own lives. The tradition of humanist commitment to equality issues

21 Spiritual capital in the context of austerity welfare and a culture of political disengagement ‘Particularly in times of austerity we need to encourage people to express their spiritual capital – which like a gear shaft – engages their visions for change and thus embodies their ethical values in the public sphere. It is free, but if it can be harnessed it is incredibly resilient and cost effective (98 million volunteering hours from church goers alone according to the Church Social Action Survey 2012)’ (Baker 2013 The postsecular public square, spiritual capital and a progressive politics of hope p.1) In a postsecular space we must allow ourselves the freedom to experiment with multiple discourses, multiple visions of the truth and multiple expressions of identity (Baker, 2013: 6)

22 Progressive Localism Progressive Localism equals: ‘community strategies that are outward-looking and that create positive affinities between places and social groups negotiating global processes. We use the term progressive to emphasise that these struggles are not merely defensive. Rather, they are expansive in their geographical reach and productive of new relations between places and social groups. Such struggles can, moreover, reconfigure existing communities around emergent agendas for social justice, participation and tolerance’ Featherstone D, 2012, “Progressive localism and the construction of political alternatives” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 37:

23 Emerging Empirical Data Spaces of postsecular rapprochement (PSR) Concept emerging from Human Geography: Cloke, P. & Beaumont, J. (2012) Geographies of postsecular rapprochement in the city, Progress in Human Geography, 37(1) 27–51 Cloke and Beaumont define postsecular rapprochement as ‘a coming together of citizens who might previously have been divided by differences in theological, political or moral principles – a willingness to work together to address crucial social issues in the city, and in doing so put aside other frameworks of difference involving faith and secularism’ (2012: 28). PSR represents perhaps ‘…new spaces of hope and new lines of flight that can be released into the politics and poetics of postsecular resistance in the contemporary city’ (2012: 44).

24 Why Progressive? ‘…. the implementation of the Big Society agenda might represent an opportunity for the construction of political alternatives, and whether local government and local communities can carve out political openings within an increasingly austere governance landscape to develop progressive collective approaches to community solidarity, direct democracy and translocal struggle? (Andrew Williams, Neo-Liberalism, Big Society and Progressive Localism forthcoming, 2013)).

25 Key questions Are we living in a postsecular space – does it feel there are more opportunities for civic and public engagement or less than 10 years ago (despite some secularist rhetoric)? What is the role of faith groups in civil society – simply providers of welfare services (the functionalist view) in an increasingly divided society AND/OR active agents of progressive localism who provide local political leadership through their faith-based engagement? Churches as ‘hubs’ of postsecular rapprochement – attract others to their ‘spaces of engagement’ to deploy their spiritual capital? What new models of political/civic leadership are emerging – what new training is required?

26 Still an ongoing and evolving (interdisciplinary) agenda …… Re-imagining Religion and Belief for Public Policy & Practice AHRC (Sept 2014 – 16) ‘… to critically map a wide range of contemporary conceptions of religion and belief and to translate and disseminate this mapping for policy audiences. ….Calibrate cutting edge evidence and theory about the contemporary religious landscape with policy-makers' ideas of it in prominent policy fields, especially: security and cohesion; community and neighbourhood; education; welfare and the Third Sector; international development; and health and social care. The network will put into dialogue different approaches to religion and belief from participating disciplines, namely Religious Studies, Political Philosophy, Public, Practical and Political Theology, Cultural Studies, Anthropology and Sociology of Religion, Social and Public Policy, and Critical Urban Geography.


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