This blog explores and examines the intersections of rhetoric, race, and religion.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Spiritual and Religious
Without a doubt, it is a new day for spirituality in our world. In the popularity contest of modern life, it is religion which can't get a date for the prom. More and more, people are declaring themselves "spiritual but not religious," and it is both a problem and progress for us.
The problem with being "spiritual but not religious" is that it is a dead-end for the spiritual seeker. Without the positive "tools" of religion, it can only describe a person's point-of-view -- expressing a sense of open wonder and personal conviction about transcendent possibilities and the numinous on the one hand, and a disinterest in, or dissatisfaction with known religious history, structures and dogmas on the other.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not criticizing people who identify themselves as "spiritual but not religious." Anybody who feels compelled to choose spirituality over religion has, in my opinion, "chosen the better part" -- to quote Jesus from the Gospels . Sometimes it seems like the only appropriate response. The problem arises when we are asked, or we ask ourselves, "How are you 'spiritual but not religious'?" For when we try to answer the question, we either have a difficult time explaining it, or immediately start to name activities we do, or refer to teachings from existing religious traditions that undermine the original statement.