1. Religion & Spirituality

Spiritual but not Religious

By September 30, 2012

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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.



October 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm
(1) Brenda says:

I admit I didn’t read the entire article, but some of his claims in it made me roll my eyes (to the point that I got a headache). He claimed that the Bible is the reason for all the great works of art and music of the Western world. Really? I believe that most of those great works occurred after the discovery of Greek and Roman sculpture and literature, which jumpstarted the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Prior to that, the Catholic church had a pretty set attitude about people who thought too much: torture and death.

Also, his claim that sin is what makes us think and behave better is a complete crock. Sin makes us feel guilty. Instilled morality is the source of better behavior.

October 1, 2012 at 3:44 pm
(2) Anita Simpson says:

I read the CNN piece and found it quite annoying. It was astounding to me that he would dismiss the importance of personal beliefs about God.
I was raised Baptist and one of the most important pieces of doctrine was having a “personal relationship with God.” Yes, the church taught some strict beliefs, but technically there was no creed and no requirements other than belief in Jesus as Savior.
By Miller’s point of view, my childhood church would have been quite suspect because it was too spiritual and not religious enough, because it allowed for people to make up their own minds. The Baptist church has changed a great deal since then (and I left it 25 years ago) but I still find Miller’s POV ironic. It’s a thinly veiled attack on all non-Christian religions.

October 1, 2012 at 5:15 pm
(3) Lyle Kalloch says:

I’m Agnostic, … did not even read the messages that lead to this link yet, ..
I’m definitely Spiritual, … not religious, … each to their own paths so long as they respect other peoples paths, …

October 1, 2012 at 5:56 pm
(4) SarcasticBimbo says:

I would like to know why it has to be one or the other? Can I not believe in God without believing in Scripture? I do believe in God but I don’t believe a word in the Bible. I believe in Jesus Christ, but I don’t believe a word of what is preached in any of the fundamentalist churches. I believe that I can have Enlightenment through human-based knowledge, reason and action as well as believing in God and have morals and ethics at the same time. I am a grown adult woman that is capable of critical thinking. I know that science has explained a great deal of the phenomena occurring in the world around us, but in some cases it just can’t. That’s where I believe “God” or some other supernatural power comes in. Clearly there is room for both in this day and age.

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