Pioneers of Modern Spirituality

By Jane Shaw

Many people today think of themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious.’ What riches and resources does the Anglican tradition have to offer to those who are spiritually curious but on the margins of, or outside, the church, as well as to those inside the church?

Pioneers of Modern Spirituality introduces four Anglicans who identified the ways in which people were disaffected with institutional religion across the twentieth century, and yet remained on a spiritual quest.  All four sat at the edges of the church – sometimes even outside it – at moments during their own spiritual journeys. Each called the church to an engagement with the world and a rediscovery of the depths of its own tradition. Each, in their own sphere, encouraged a revival of spirituality, and a renewal of the great Anglican heritage of prayer, beauty, worship, community-building and social justice.

Pioneers of Modern Spirituality tells the stories of four of these Anglican pioneers whose stories have often been forgotten:

  • Evelyn Underhill, a writer and spiritual director;
  • Reginald Somerset Ward, a priest and spiritual director;
  • Percy Dearmer, a priest and scholar;
  • Rose Macaulay, a novelist, who shares her chapter with Hamilton Johnson SSJE, a priest and monk, the person who gently guided her back to faith when she was 69 years old.“Each of them is worth a fresh look in their own right. Each has something to teach us about prayer, worship, and how we cultivate a relationship with God. Each was something of a pioneer, but has been somewhat neglected in recent years.”

A final chapter explores what these figures have to teach us about spirituality, the church and mission today.

Jane Shaw
Jane Shaw

Jane Shaw is a British historian and Anglican priest. She is Professor of Religious Studies and Dean for Religious Life at Stanford University, USA, and was previously Dean of Divinity, a Fellow of New College, Oxford, and Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Her books include Miracles in Enlightenment England (2006), Octavia, Daughter of God (2011), and A Practical Christianity (2012). Pioneers in Modern Christianity was originally delivered as the 2017 Sarum Lectures.