Considering the Soteriological Promise of Popular Spiritual Gurus
Setting out from the question “How do we live as/for a time being?,” Sharon Betcher observes that for many Western persons in the milieu of the “spiritual, but not religious,” the Christian promise of salvation as immortality of soul—a ballast for the anxiety of our transient passage—has become nonfunctional. She consequently considers the question by thinking with a contemporary guru that is often of first, popular resort—Deepak Chopra. While appreciating the ways in which teachers such as Chopra refresh interest in spiritual practice, Betcher notes a tendency toward uncritical appropriation of their presumably “perennial wisdom.” Further, she suspects these paths reduce soteriology to individual matters of health, itself a bit of an imperial conceit. Consequently, she holds Chopra in conversation with Anantanand Rambachan’s elucidation of Advaita Vedanta and a Christian theopoetics of Spirit, epitomized in the work of process theologian Catherine Keller. Amidst global economic fragility and given the onset of the Anthropocene, the question of soteriology here revolves around spiritual resilience to live in the midst of the mundane.
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