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U.S. puts piritual_managers' on payrolls - The Times of India

Matthew Campbell, Washington ()
August 3, 1998

Title: U.S. puts piritual managers on payrolls
Author: Matthew Campbell, Washington
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 3, 1998

A businessman and politician who has twice served as mayor of
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Gordon Mowrer is far too busy to waste
time fruitlessly meditating about his place in the universe. He
has hired a piritual director to do that for him.

"I have a money manager to manage my money," he explained. "Why
not hire a spiritual manager to manage my spirituality?" Mowrer,
62, is part of a religious revolution in America, where an
upsurge of anxiety about the meaning of life as the millennium
draws to a close is prompting more and more people to hire
spiritual directors.

Used to paying people to look after their cars, homes, bodies and
children, Americans are enthusiastically paying professionals to
care for their souls, a luxury once limited to wealthy Hollywood
celebrities like Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore.

An unprecedented abundance of material comforts-the fruits of
economic boom and bulging stock market-appears only to have
deepened the malaise, propelling Americans on their spiritual
quest. "People are saying, here's got to be more than this',"
said Barry Young, a spiritual director.

Once a month, Young, a former chemist, who realised years ago
that he preferred discussing spiritual issues with his customers
to "counting the little pills," invites Mowrer into his sitting

They discuss Mowrer's spirit. They sometimes talk about his fear
of rejection and death. "I've been exploring the pain of my
life," said Mowrer. Young sometimes suggests particular prayers.
Mowrer pays him $35 for each session.

Some church officials have expressed concern about charring for
spiritual advice. "It's a Slippery slope," said one critic, who
claimed spiritual directors should not be concerned with making
money. Others argue that an hourly rate. helped people to take
more seriously the business of discovering God's will.

Spiritual direction has its roots in the Roman Catholic Church.
But practitioners from all denominations say they often cater to
people dissatisfied with the traditional church, where a shortage
of priests has left parishioners feeling neglected. There is no
shortage of demand for their services, particularly among well-
heeled professionals whose successful careers and material wealth
have failed to stave off existential angst.

When Joe Coleman, a lawyer from Dallas, feels in need of a
spiritual tune-up, he flies Richard Hauser, a professor of
theology at Creighton University, Omaha, down to Texas for a
talk. The two spend a weekend together at Coleman's lakeside
house, walking, cooking and talking about how he can reconcile
his interest in a deeper spiritual existence with the "ego greed
and temptation" of his law firm. Most spiritual directors shun
publicity and describe their activity as more of a vocation than
a profession. But some advertise their services on the Internet.

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