Bruce Duncan Church Times February 2012
WILLIAM BLOOM, the back of this book tells us, is the UK’s leading mind, body, and spirit teacher, and a meditation master. He lives in Glastonbury, was for 25 years on the faculty of the Findhorn Foundation, spent a two-year spiritual retreat amongst the Saharan Berbers in the High Atlas mountains, and for ten years directed the Alternatives programme at St James’s, Piccadilly.
Nevertheless, to my surprise, I enjoyed this book. My initial fear that this would be New Age writing at its worst – shallow, syrupy, self-obsessed, and lacking in moral values – was soon dispelled. Modern Spirituality, Bloom assures us, has strong values and respects and draws from every world religion. Bloom’s target audience is surely not those who read the Church Times, most of whom would wish to preface ‘spirituality’ with the word ‘Christian’.
Many people are repelled by religion, and by the Christian Church in particular. One fifth of all Americans say that they are spiritual but not religious. Generation X, the generation born after the post-Second World War baby-boomers, long to be loved (so the polls tell us), to be connected with the wonder and energy of life, to be part of an authentic community, and to become caring, wise, and compassionate. They hunger for God, but are unsatisfied by traditional expressions of church.
These people will resonate with the three golden key practices of Bloom’s modern spirituality: connection, reflection, and service.
Bloom divides his book into a discussion around those three key practices. The author comes across as a good person with much experience and wisdom to impart, an excellent teacher who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.
He gives many examples and anecdotes to illustrate his points. One struck me especially. During a one-day course that he led for 50 Anglican clergy, he asked them to list all the times when they most easily connected with the beauty and mystery of God. Not one of them listed prayer; and no one listed the eucharist.
For those whose religion has become divorced from their spirituality, and who are prepared to step outside their religious safety zone, this book will provide some helpful and refreshing surprises.