Opinie. Spiritualiteit en maatschappelijk engagement als 'moderne' oppositie


  • Anne-Marie Korte


Today spirituality and social commitment are often perceived as two oppositional orientations: inwards versus outwards, private versus public, religious versus secular. In this article this opposition is critically analyzed from the perspective of genderstudies in theology and religious studies. Firstly the emergence of an opposition between spirituality and social commitment is traced in cultural historical perspective. It is shown that this concerns a modern opposition, that has become manifest and influential in twentieth century religious and political thought. Secondly the role of feminist reflection and feminist theology in the upholding and affirmation of this opposition is discussed. It is shown that the idea that religion primarily is an inward orientation and a cultivation of dependency of self sacrifice, that withholds women from claiming equality and performing (public) roles outside the private sphere, still dominates contemporary debates on religion and emancipation. The origins of these debates are related to early twentieth century Max Weber’s sociological analyses of religion, modernity and women’s emancipation. This article points to the importance of research in the field of gender and religion that is not framed in terms of individual and inward religious orientation versus social participation and public involvement. It recommends to study women’s religious interests and activities (more) in relation to their performance as promoters and sustainers of familial, intergenerational, informal and local bonds and relationships.