the repulsive reality of expensive spirituality

another insight spurred by last sunday’s conversation with my buddy ambroise is in the lane of money and spirituality.

we started off talking about why doing yoga in the west is so expensive. he had started to go through the process of yoga teacher training, but stopped. there were a few reasons, but one was because it just cost so much money.

and then i reflected on that being one of the reasons i stopped going to the yoga center down the street from me. the classes cost $10-15 each. given that i’m already spending ~$30/week for volleyball activities, i just don’t have money for that. i also don’t want to support places that practice colonized yoga, but that’s a whole different thing (or maybe it’s not, actually).

anyways, all of this lead to us talking about how spiritual work in the west via churches essentially used to be free. church “professionals” tended to take vows of poverty and committed to living with less. tithes and donations were involved, but still church leaders and clergy intentionally existed outside of other economic systems.

but now that conventional spiritual institutions and structures are in decline, we’re seeing the bleed of people getting their spiritual needs met by secular organizations. my friend casper’s research is pointing to this in huge ways. those organizations tend to be entrepreneurial and (at least believe that they) still need to exist in conventional economies.

all of these patterns look to me like the professionalization of spiritual work. whereas it didn’t cost anyone any money to go to church (you could always not tithe), if these new orgs require memberships or session fees, they’re going to be exclusionary. this worries me, but maybe there is another way forward here. maybe it’s better for our spiritual needs to fit into our economies in conventional ways… but maybe it’s not…


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10:22 5:00