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?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I find the majority of the main structured "religions" very hypocritical, unforgiving, inflexible and stodgy.

I would say I am more earthbound spiritual, I resonate more with doctrines based on earth and nature. eg Native American, Mayan,Aztec,Incan, Aboriginal etc.

Kuzlin said...

Spiritual - I too am turned off by the political aspect of church religion and over emphasis on money raising. And in my experience, it has seemed that the truly "religious" are often hypocritical in their lives. I would rather avoid the organized religion and live the best I can, always making sure that I can look myself in the mirror and be happy with what and who I am.

Kristen said...

I have tried to be both, but recently I have found myself turning from organized religion because it not only lacked what I needed, but it was getting in the way of my spirituality. I find that as I age, my views have become much wider and and taken a much more accepting position. Not to mention that belonging to a church usually ends up being like taking on a part time job if you try to be serious about it. That left little time or energy for my real ministry in my real life. My current position is that although I may not attend church regularly anymore, my faith continues to be strong. I'd rather live my faith than talk about it.

Sonia said...

I've always been very spiritual rather than religious. I was raised Catholic but found the religion scary instead of comforting. Over the years the way the church has dealt with abuse has also made me very jaded. Very sad. So, I've taken refuge in nature and in the love I have for my family and for the planet. In my opinion, as long as you're altruistic and genuinely care about others it doesn't matter what you believe in if anything at all. Being a good person is all that really matters, anyway.

Char said...

Like Kristen, even though I don't attend church, my faith is strong. Having been married for 25 years to a psychic who was once a Baptist preacher, we both have chosen sprituality over our religious upbringings (I was raised Episcopalian). What with Gov. Perry and all the other hypocritical teabaggers spewing their "religious" hatred, organized religion has me totally turned off.

Diane P said...

I belong to a little white clapboard church up the road from us. I know many places effect us spiritually, especially outdoors looking at nature. I have to say that sitting in our church by myself fills me with comfort & spirituality. We've had many pastors espousing many beliefs but most have been very inclusive & accepting of all. It is a small church so we do have to do many jobs but I regard it as service. The politics have been up & down but this is my church family, & like all families we have disagreements but the love carries us through.

Kate Collins said...

Diane, as you can see by the comments, you are the exception. More and more people feel the way Char, Sonia, Kristen, Kuzlin and Anonymous do. How sad that so many aren't finding comfort at church, but how wonderful that so many are still spiritual.

Nancy said...

Hmmmmm. Good question. I have a very close church family and have made great friends. I think they help make me a better person and they are great listeners as I question my spirituality. We challenge each other with discussions. I do enjoy the ritual of the traditional services.

lynneandco said...

I was raised Catholic but quit going to church by the time I was in college. Totally did not find any comfort in the rituals. Like many of the previous commenters, I prefer to live my life in a very personal, spiritual way without some figurehead telling me how to think. I can imagine that a small church community would be much better than the big organized religions. I totally dislike to judgemental attitude that invariable comes from big religions. And organized religion creates way more conflict that it seems to resolve. I've raised my children to be good, moral, ethical people and to treat others how they want to be treated. And it has worked so far :)

Kate Collins said...

Nancy, I love the traditions, too, especially my favorite hymns. Not much of a fan of new ones. I'm glad our new minister is addressing this issue, as I feel it's a way to bring people back to church instead of leaving many feel divided.

Chris said...

I would consider myself both religious and spiritual. I attend church each Sunday, and serve in the children's organization. It is my activity in my religion that helps to feed my spirituality. It is that attendance that recharges my spiritual batteries to help me through the week and encourages me to be a better person.

To me I simply remember that people are human. We are all dealing with different problems and we do well in different areas of our lives. To me, discounting organized religion because of the fallibility of humans does us a great disservice. We can become just a little less fallible if we try to do what is taught in scripture.

Vickie said...

I've had issue with organized religion since I was small. I am non-denominational Christian and hope that I am spiritual and non-hypocritical. I am who I am and try to be as good to others as I possibly can be.

Anonymous said...

"Spirituality" is far too vague. It can mean anything. I'd rather hang my hat on religion and actually live it than just float around in some amorphous "spiritual" thing. I'm a conservative Christian from a traditional, conservative denomination (Presbyterian Church in America) and I have no problem with the word "religion." It's how I do my faith. Nothing at all to be ashamed of or to shy away from.