So what IS Anglican Spirituality?
To grasp the term in its entirety, a person must understand that anything Anglican has to do with the English or of England. When we talk of ‘Anglican Spirituality’, we are talking about tenets of the English Church or The Church of England, founded by King Henry VIII in the year 1534. It also refers to the predominant church before that, the Catholic Church. Anglican spirituality includes those Christian values and spiritual guidelines that have been taken from the Bible (the Holy Book of the Christians). The dubious origins and practices of the Anglican Church have rendered the very name to be suspect. However, Anglican Spirituality has values that can be easily incorporated into a person’s daily life. This is regardless of a person’s religious/spiritual orientation.
The Old and the New Testament
Values of Anglican or Christian Spirituality are mostly teachings that have been taken from the New Testament and not the Old Testament. You will find that the Old Testament is the more outmoded of the two Testaments of the Holy Bible for many reasons. People feel that its laws are difficult to endure because of its many stipulations and rules of conduct. Others think that the laws of the Old Testament have become irrelevant ever since the coming of Jesus Christ onto the scene.
Of course, we do have the Ten Commandments that were highlighted in the Old Testament in the books of Exodus (20:2–17) and Deuteronomy (5:6–17). The Commandments are quite complicated and as a result, are highly misinterpreted.
Two Tenets of Jesus Christ
However, Christian spiritual leader and teacher Jesus Christ, compressed the very complicated Ten Commandments into two basic teachings, namely
1. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment”.
2. “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”.
These two tenets have simplified the whole of Christianity for everyone. The reason for this is the lack of specifics in the above two teachings. In the Old Testament, you will find too many dos and don’ts that a follower must be aware of. On the other hand, the New Testament has been able to figure out exactly what the Bible wants out of “Christians”. This renders it more capable of catering to the spiritual needs and requirements of people. This makes the whole thing easier to digest for anyone because it does not even remotely stray into the ritualistic aspects of religion.
Incorporating Anglican Spirituality (or Christianity) in your daily life is easy. First, all you need to understand is that there is no need to be daunted or intimidated by the word God.
Who is God?
When we talk of ‘God’, we do not necessarily have to take into account which ‘God’ this is. It can also be about priorities. It could be any God-figure of any spiritual belief. For some, it could be their conscience. There are some who consider their jobs to be their “alpha and omega”. Some look to their family lives as their priorities. Some even consider CODING to be a God for them.
A famous Bollywood movie PK (2014) about an extraterrestrial on Earth (specifically, India), has a scene that could enlighten people about this ‘God’ that everyone seems to be scared of. When asking about some idols being sold on the road near a “Mandir” (Indian for Temple), the seller tells PK (the alien) that the idols represent God. On being further asked, the man then goes on to tell PK that God is the creator of man (I paraphrase, of course).
Then PK proceeds to ask the man whether God created man or was it man that created God. God, in non-theistic belief systems, is a human construct. If we look at the idea of God in this way, it simplifies the very idea that would instill fear or intimidation in most people. The idea of God can be seen to be anything that a person stands for or believes in, taking into consideration that the belief is something of a positive nature. Loving your calling in life, family, or any other motive of passion can then be looked at in this way.
The First Tenet/Teaching
The first teaching which says to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” is a basic value. It talks about an individual’s love for his or her calling in life. The second teaching which talks about loving “thy neighbor as thyself” is a tenet that easily fits into any person’s life regardless of what faith system they choose to follow.
First, it establishes that self-love or loving your own self is something important if you are to love your neighbor. Most faith systems put institution before an individual. Some patriarchal faith systems put a woman’s needs and existence below that of a man’s. Some faith systems believe in the superiority of a group over another. This tenet of Anglican faith or Spirituality is something that deeply emphasizes on self-love.
The bible talks about your body being a Temple and that you must treat it accordingly. 1 Corinthians (also of the New Testament) mentions this. A person must love him or herself, not only in the physical sense but also in a spiritual sense. Self-esteem, self-respect, dignity are all aspects of spiritual self-love. Breaking toxic relationships, deciding to take the high path and engaging with rehabilitative activities are a few others. This is an aspect of the above mentioned tenet.
The Second Tenet/Teaching
Second, and also significantly, the tenet reinforces that you must love your neighbor. These are the people in our daily lives. Family members or relatives, co-workers, teachers and students all fall into this category. ‘Neighbor’ can even mean a person in need of help. This could be a lost child or older person who is trying to find their way back home. A person asking for help with directions or even delivery personnel who cannot seem to find a delivery location falls within the same idea.
‘Neighbor’ is a vast concept and it means any person who you come into contact with. It can even refer to hungry children in another state or country and people suffering from calamities (man-made or natural). Even sick people and those suffering from illness and injury could all benefit from even the tiniest donation. The tenet interestingly makes an emphasis on loving all these people.
This means that the way a person chooses to live their life should be done so taking into consideration these people or ‘neighbors’. The tenet says that you must aspire to live your life in such a way that your choices or actions will not hurt other people. A kind word, a helping hand or even a little sensitivity towards someone can go a long way.
Some ways by which you can incorporate Anglican Spirituality or Christianity into your daily life are as follows.
- Not engaging in negative emotions like jealousy, envy, pride.
- Trying actively not to harm other people.
- Considering the feelings of other people.
For example, a boss has to fire an employee because of the latter’s shortcomings. He could do so in a way that would hurt the employee. However, he could motivate the employee rather than break his or her spirit.
We live in a fast-paced world that is largely dominated by corporate ideals and standards. It is a dog-eat-dog world. It would be almost next to impossible to please any and everybody. However, what Anglican Spirituality embodies is not people pleasing but love and goodwill. An online article titled “In Helping Others, You Help Yourself”, suggests that doing good things for others goes a long way in improving a person’s mental health and lowering depression in people.
Praying or Meditation
There is another aspect of Anglican Spirituality or Christianity that a person can easily incorporate into his or her life. It is the universal act of praying. Praying is common to most religions. Praying is the action of a person talking to God regardless of faith or religion. What it entails is an individual going to God in times of need or in times of gratitude. There are those who are uncomfortable talking to an unknown and unseen entity. For those people who are not familiar or comfortable praying, perhaps another word for it could be meditation. Meditation comes to the rescue. It can be seen as another form of praying. It is an act of reflection and introspection, something vital for people in today’s world.
This is exactly what the Anglican Faith or Spirituality, if we are to take it at its most basic, would entail. What makes it so easy to incorporate into people’s daily lives is the fact that it does not require much reading into or any drastic changes of lifestyle.