What are the implications?

This paper proposes there is a need to consider the positive effects of an open discussion in New Zealand about spirituality. Such a discussion requires respect for all viewpoints. Only then can the benefits of an understanding of the relationship between spirituality and wellbeing and its implications for public policy and place in society be explored.

As well-being and quality of life are the primary goals of social policy and significant goals in economic policy, it is important they can be explored in all their dimensions. For a considerable number of New Zealanders spirituality is an important dimension of their individual and community well-being. This being so, consideration of spirituality could offer an important contribution to research projects, needs analyses, policy development and various aspects of healthcare, education and social service provision.

Spirituality has a further advantage in that it can raise serious questions about what we value, like the environment, and who and how we care for people in need. It could help temper the fiscal and physical functional approach so common and ineffective in many of our organisations and institutions. The spiritual impulse can challenge and question how human, effective and fair organisations and policies really are.

This paper looks at the importance and place of spirituality and its implications for wellbeing in the lives of New Zealanders. It offers evidence of the value of the spiritual in many spheres of life. It seeks to encourage further discussion on the place and understanding of spirituality at all levels in New Zealand. In the interests of national well-being a respectful conversation is needed between those who understand spirituality in many different ways.


2 thoughts on “Implications

  1. After hearing you,Richard, last week at the Theology Spirituality and Cancer Symposium and then Hannah’s research on a Palliative Care Nurse’s perspective which echoes some of what you have found, I have decided to reframe myself as a Spiritual Care Practitioner of over thirty years experience. While doing the usual things of parish ministry or chaplaincy, at heart has been the “cure of souls”. The church, and indeed, the religious bodies of most spiritual traditions have understood that is not a task given lightly to every one, but that certain ones are set apart (ordained) by the community to do that. This is true with the exercise of taha wairua in Maori society, not everyone is offered the task of doing a tohunga or kuia’s spiritual work for the community.
    Listening to the PCN’s presentation of what her sample of nurses thought about spirituality, spiritual care and spiritual distress, the overwhelming impression I got was because everyone has some sort of spirituality, everyone can do it. Yes there are crossover points with the other helping professions in health care, but chaplains as spiritual care practitioners have some particular skills and training that counsellors, social workers and nurses do not. I believe that needs to be understood at the practitioner level so that patients get the best use of all the services a hospital or hospice can offer.

  2. While I completely respect the training and experience of a chaplain in relation to spiritual care, my own experience and observation lead me to understand that a person who has these trainings is not, of necessity, wise. I would for myself choose a person who demonstrates wisdom i.e. including such attributes as ethical behaviour, compassion, deep listening, generosity and equanimity. This person would need to understand wisdom as being available to all from within, so a religious person i.e. one who believes that we must appeal to an all-knowing higher power, would be a poor fit. I believe that a non-religious person who possesses wisdom is likely to be a greater mentor to a troubled soul than a person with an narrower agenda. If such a person is trained in non-religious spiritual care then so much the better.

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