Abstract | A momentous state of not being different

Little research has been done on the micro level of spirituality outside traditional religions. This thesis covers a case study on the extra-traditional spiritual practice of the ‘Stichting Mannenwerk’ (Menwork Foundation), an organization that offers workshops for gay and bisexual men in The Netherlands. Qualitative research on the micro level of the participants, and the meso level of the organization, focused on characteristic features of spiritual practices, by means of participative observations during a multiple day workshop and interviews with participants and foundation staff. A ritual perspective was used.

The fieldwork unveiled the complex dimensions of structure and meaning, by using concepts like rites de passage, communitas, and liminality. Drawing on the findings from this case study, I argue that structure is a very important constituent, that internal meaning is focused on personal growth and psychological healing, and that the external meanings are rather individual and diffuse. I emphasize the importance of minority stress, and the temporary state of not being different, a feeling, very uncommon to many gay and bisexual men.

I further argue that, being focused on psychological healing and wellbeing, and using spiritualisation and re-enchantment, the organisation’s approach can be characterised as a Spirituality of Life, within the New Age Human Potential Movement

Peter van de Weerd © 2011