Today CNN.com ran an opinion piece about those who consider themselves "spiritual but not religious." Writer Alan Miller's position was that such an approach is inherently selfish and shallow, taken up by people who want to be entirely independant and not not have to ask themselves the tough question.
Certainly some of the "spiritual but not religious" people fall into that category. But you can find such people in *any* segment of society. The author expects that people who claim only a personal connection with God are really just looking for possitive reinforcement without addressing deeper issues. Why is that somehow a given? Can you not seek out answers to deep questions through a personal connection with God? Does he really think that all such people only hear the answers that they want to hear?
I don't know many people who specifically use the phrase "spiritual but not religious." But I do know many people who consider their spiritual paths very personal, and largely between themselves and God/the gods/whatever. Some are airheads. Some are deep thinkers. Some get answers that scare the heck out of them.
Meanwhile, it's not like the traditionally religious are immune to this phenomenon. They listen to the happy messages but ignore the theology, the challenging questions, the rest of the story. Moreover, Miller doesn't like the idea of people separating themselves from any source of religious authority, but what about those who submit themsleves entirely to an authority simply because they've always submitted themsleves to it? (As opposed to those who submit due to theological understanding and through informed choice.)
Every group has its spiritual lightweights and its spiritual powerhouses. Maybe some groups have more lightweights than others, but everyone has them. And judging what counts as a "lightweight" can often be subjective.