Ever heard this one? I’m spiritual but not religious!
It’s usually employed by people who’ve “had it” with institutionalized religion. They’re typically trying to distance themselves from ritual, buildings and hierarchy-patriarchy. They’ve been burned, abused or bored by the system. They believe in the Story of God/god but not in the system in which he/she’s been “located”.
One of the unintended consequences of the spiritual but not religious phrase is that it makes it sound like anyone who is religious is not spiritual. But then what do you do with The Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu or Mother Teresa who in spite of being very religious are profoundly spiritual.
The second problem with this position is that many spiritual people participate in structured religious activities whenever “the spirit moves them”. They pick and choose the rituals they do like and attend church, temple or prayer services they find meaningful. They also send their seeking friends to the very same institutions they’ve left.
It seems that the whole religious – spiritual enterprise is more fluid than any of us like to admit. We all travel in and out of religious structures and spiritual experiences with far more frequency than we like to admit. We’re not only switching religious practices, we’re trying on whole new beliefs and religions. Unfortunately we’re doing much of this behind closed doors so as to avoid the gaze of our judgmental brothers and sisters.
We’ve coined the term Religious Spirituality as a way of opening up the conversation, becoming more inclusive and expressing curiosity about people’s journeys. We can’t understand how it became culturally acceptable to discuss topics like Sex (quite casually it seems) and politics, but not religion. How did this happen?
We need to become more curious about others and transparent about ourselves.
We need to stop “breaking up” with each other over a difference in beliefs.
We need to “sit at one another’s feet” and listen carefully to the experiences.
We need to put practice above preaching and formation above information and text within context.