Are You Spiritual but Not Religious?

Or do you consider that philosophy a cop-out?

A CNN opinion piece recently highlighted the growing trend of people identifying as spiritual, but not religious.

Writer Allen Miller believes the trend "highlights the implosion of belief that has struck at the heart of Western society." Young people in particular are moving toward this philosophy -- a belief system that takes a little Buddhist meditation here, a little Sermon on the Mount there -- and are drifting ever so steadily away from religious institutions.

If you were to see the Gothic, breathtakingly beautiful cathedrals of Europe on a Sunday morning, you wouldn't be surprised. They're mostly empty. Postmodernism hit Europe after WWII, causing a generation to feel abandoned by a personal Creator. (Not the only contributing factor, but one of them.)

Two questions here: why are so many people jumping on the "spiritual but not religious" bandwagon? (This includes more than just the yoga-loving, existentialist under-30 crowd here. This also includes the mega-church members who go to hear a "lite" sermon that makes them feel good but rarely refers to a theological tome. And Oprah.)

And do you consider yourself one of the spiritual ones? If so, why?

Crystal Huskey October 03, 2012 at 01:27 PM
I had a conversation with an atheist once that said in a random conversation, "I miss Jesus." He missed the comfort of believing that there was someone who always cared for him, that loved everyone and was concerned for every detail of his life. He lost his faith completely at one point, but he yearned for a spiritual connection. I had another friend that once said, "I believe in God, I just don't like him." All of us carry such hurt, and it's hard to reconcile that with a traditional view of God, especially if that hurt is caused by someone who is religious. I don't think the "spiritual but not religious" philosophy is a cop-out at all. I think those who identify as such as still searching. In my life, God introduced himself to me as Jesus. I'll stick to that, but who am I to say how he'll introduce himself to you? And for those who have lost faith... well, it's like losing your best friend, really. So take your time and rekindle that connection. It may lead you back to your roots, or it may not, but it's worth pursuing. Just my two cents on this foggy morning :)
Rosemarie Lieffring October 03, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Honestly, I think the "religious, not spiritual" thing is a reflection of our culture...particularly in the US. We want things "our way". One can be religious by being spiritual and not have to follow any established doctrine. One can create a god of his or her liking. But the Christian Church...it isn't about what we as individuals want. It is about communion, community. We don't do that very well in the US. We are individualistic. It is difficult for us, as individuals, to put aside our personal beliefs and embrace established dogma. We don't like to be constrained and we prefer to modify our dogma to meet our own thoughts about God. We rationalize, "God couldn't possibly mean...." We also come up with all kinds of excuses why Church is bad but individual spirituality is good. There are bad people in Church, they do bad things, they make us uncomfortable, they make us angry, they put a bad mark on the collective whole. I think CS Lewis characterized that well in his Screwtape Letters. If Christians truly lived out the faith...everyone would want to be Christian and this whole "spiritual but not religious" notion would not have any appeal. But such is the work of Saints and of faith. I will say one thing for "spiritual, not religious". It at least admits that humans seek something beyond their fact-based intellect. There is a dimension to our being that basic science cannot satisfy. It is a start...
Sue Stover October 04, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Rachel, thanks for the book recommendation. I am agreeing with what you say and what the book description says. For another recommendation on "making sense" of Jesus, the Bible, and theology that includes atonement theories, read CLEAR FAITH: CLEARING AWAY STUMBLING BLOCKS FOR A FAITH THAT MAKES SENSE, from Amazon, Barnes & Nobles on-line, and Lulu.com. I find the atonement theories most offensive and hard to swallow--that an all-loving God would even consider "sending" his son, Jesus, with the intentional purpose of dying an excruciating death "because of our sins." What kind of God is that?! Uncreative, unloving, and self-centered ... traits I would not attribute to "God."
Elizabeth October 05, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Thank you, Miss Mary, for your testimony. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is, indeed, a strong medicine.
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