Last week I wrote about the challenges of categorizing spirituality or religiosity. Part of the difficulty lies in the porous nature of the two concepts; each seeps into and encroaches on the other. But another difficulty, one I didn’t touch on last week, is that both concepts are alive – metaphorically of course. They’re dynamic; the ways people and communities use the terms is constantly changing. They aren’t scientific categories, like mammal or friction, with precise definitions. Instead, they’re fluid. This makes the task of studying spirituality or religion challenging and exciting.
A prime example of the nebulous nature of spirituality is the Frequencies Project. This experiment, produced by the people at The Immanent Frame and Killing the Buddha (both worth checking out), aims to be a “collaborative genealogy of spirituality.” They collected reflections from scholars, writers, and artists on what they think of when they think about spirituality. Where a social scientist attempts to be precise and hone in on the concept, this experiment blows open the category and accepts the dynamic and fluid nature of people’s lived spirituality. And the result is fascinating.