Icarus ignored: understanding mundane spirituality through young people’s prayer

Julian Stern, Eli Kohn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Scopus citations


    A major international contribution to the applied philosophy of spirituality, this article builds on Wong’s description of ‘mundane spirituality’, exploring this through empirical research on young people’s approaches to prayer in Israel and the UK. The Icarus narrative is used as a metaphor for the apparent choice between the material, everyday, mundane and the heavenly, sacred and divine spiritual. Prayer is typically regarded as a spiritual activity if it makes the latter choice, and as inappropriate and unspiritual if too focused on the mundane. However, a more relational approach to spirituality sees the mundane not only as a possible route to the spiritual but as in itself spiritual. Mundane spirituality is evidenced from two projects on young people’s prayer, one based in Jewish religious schools in Israel, the other based in a range of schools (with and without religious foundations) in the UK. Young people describe the importance of the everyday, and in particular of personal relationships (with the living and the dead, and the sacred and divine), in enabling spirituality through engagement with prayer or ‘prayer spaces’ in schools. The conclusions are of significance for academic research and for professional practice.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)290-306
    Number of pages17
    JournalInternational Journal of Children's Spirituality
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 3 Jul 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


    • David Hay
    • Martin Buber
    • Prayer
    • mundane
    • spirituality


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