Monday, August 29, 2011

Are You Religious or Spiritual?

By Kate Collins

The theme of a series of sermons at my church this month has been on religion versus spirituality. According to a book by a leading theologian from the Harvard School of Divinity, young people aren’t impressed by the dogma of organized religion, and long-standing traditions don’t have much meaning for them. What they are looking for is a connection between their lives and the Divine. They want to feel hopeful. They want to have faith that their lives have meaning. Spirituality seems to be the way they are finding that. According to the theologian, it’s the wave of the future.

I know my own children were turned off by the political games they saw being played out in the name of organized religion. They felt disgusted by the hypocrites who showed up in church “religiously”, then went back to their jobs or high-powered positions on Monday morning and continued to cheat and lie as usual. They wanted, but were not finding, a connection between the “rules” of organized religion and having faith in God.

I can’t fault them for that. I’ve often found deeper meaning through helping others, and through reading books about faith than I have in many years of attending church, and I know friends who feel the same. Being a good person doesn’t translate to attending a service out of a sense of obligation or for show. Walking the talk is what it takes to be a good person.

My new minister is making a case for spirituality, and I applaud him for not only bringing back a feeling of hope in coping with the world, but also for bringing back the younger generation. Faith is about hope, and we sure can use a big dose of that.

Do you see the shift away from religion and toward spirituality? Where do you see yourself on the spectrum, if at all?