All the cool kids are ‘spiritual but not religious’ now, but what does that actually mean?
For many people, it means that they believe in a higher power or powers, but have freed themselves from the perceived domination of any particular doctrine and/or human authority structure.
That doesn’t actually mean they are free of religion though.
Religion as a concept has evolved, from an initial meaning of a subjective experience/attitude of awe in the presence of a deity, to become a response – religion is the practises one adopts as the outworking of a belief system.
It is not simply the doctrines and practises that make up a faith tradition.
If your belief is that we are all one, and that nobody should harm anyone else, you develop a set of practises which go along with that belief. If you believe that God loves the poor and needy, and that he lives and acts through his followers, then you develop a set of practises to reflect that.
You are also liable also to develop patterns and ways of demonstrating worship, veneration and adoration which fall in line with these beliefs. Worship and celebration seems to be something that comes quite naturally to humans, that these practises become part of our religion is equally as natural.
That is religion.
To be ‘spiritual but not religious’ actually doesn’t mean what people think it does. It would actually mean, ‘I believe in things, but don’t let my beliefs impact my life in any way’ (This is something which could be said of many ‘religious’ people). But I don’t think that is what people are trying to express when they talk about themselves in this way – which is perhaps better summed up as ‘spiritual but not an follower of any of the major faith traditions.’
Religious has become a dirty word, it has become the reflection of an idea that ‘Religion’ or ‘Religio’ is an abstract something – usually something malign and harsh.
In fact, I think we’re pretty much all religious, I’m less convinced that we’re all actively, or consciously ‘spiritual’. By which I don’t mean that we aren’t spiritual beings – but rather that we’re not conscious of our own spirituality.
OR – maybe there’s another way of looking at it – it would be great to hear your perspective…