Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wait what? A response to "Spiritual but not Religious"

Spiritual not religious?
I know some old white men who will change your mind.
I thought that the phrase "spiritual but not religious" was funny before I started this project. I would say that folks who were into spirituality did not understand religions, or they had isolated bad experiences. I had a high tolerance for religious disappointment.

Since then I've met a number of amazing folks who embrace their spirituality but feel deeply hurt by religious institutions, or, at the very least, don't see the relevance. And I might be in that number. However...

I still believe that community is an essential spiritual experience.

What does that mean? At the risk of generalizing, I believe that humans like to share. Don't let your two-year-old fool you. When it comes to happiness, thanks, fear, anxiety, grief, or need, we like to experience these things together. 

"Spiritual" is a pretty ambiguous word. If nothing else, when I say that I am a spiritual person, I mean that I have dug deeply into myself and desired to connect with a greater reality. Then I explored the world - using science, religion, internet, music, and pluralism - to find that greater reality.

Spiritual means Hopeful: hopeful that a greater reality exists and that I can connect with it. (I think I do, and it does). 

Spirituality, then, is a way of feeling more connected. I want to connect the higher reality to my own highs and lows, my own thanks and desires, and my grief and regret. I want to connect. 
Be vulnerable to a friend. That is the smallest church.

If you read this blog you know that I think communities, networks of love, are ingrained as the ultimate human good. Naturally, our spiritual hopes should lead us to connecting with each other. We share so many of our deep emotions. Spiritual practices, conversations, and rituals are a healthy, natural way to be vulnerable to each other. 

That should be called church-building - creating spaces that facilitate the sharing of our spirits. 

And that is why I hesitated to throw off religion.  

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